Natalie A

Battling opposing viewpoints

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I was wondering if anyone has any tips on succinctly and successfully shutting down others when they criticize your choice to do a Whole 30? 

 

I went to a get together with friends the other evening and was very proud of myself for passing on a lot of temptations.  I drank water instead of wine, ate before I went so I could pass on unhealthy choices, and snacked on apples.  However, I was a lot less pleased with my friends' reactions to my decision to eat better.  I got the usual, "How can you give up bread?" "What do you mean you can't have x, y, or z?" and the like, to which I explained that I am trying to give up some unhealthy food groups to see if they're contributing to some health problems I've been having at the recommendation of my doctor.  I thought that was pretty straight and to the point and should have shut them down, but they continued to drill me on whether I was making a good choice or not, which then led to a discussion about whether I had an eating disorder or not, that I ended up having to remove myself from out of sheer frustration.  They also piled chocolate and bread in front of me "just in case I change my mind and want to have some real food."  

 

Now I know that in the short term the answer to this is to not go out with these friends again, especially in the first few weeks while I'm adjusting.  But this is actually just a more frustrating example of something that's pretty common for me.  Most people out there who still accept conventional dietary wisdom don't seem to be very supportive of the decision to go paleo, and I find myself constantly explaining myself, with varying degrees of success.  

 

I have no problem telling people firmly that I am not going to eat something and then not eating it.  But I would like to be able explain my point of view to others in a way that doesn't have to turn combative and that is acceptable.  If you have any tried and true explanations, or even would like to commiserate  I would love to hear about your experiences!

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First off, I'm sorry that you were put in this situation.  I feel fortunate that I've never had to experience anything close to what you endured.

 

FWIW, you do realize it's all about their insecurities and not you?  ;) 

You might find this article by Melissa helpful: http://whole30.com/2013/07/its-not-me-its-you/

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A lot of the time when you are making good choices they are uncomfortable then with the choices they are making for themselves and therefore trying to make you feel bad about yours.  It is what GFChris is saying, they are insecure about their choices and then trying to bring you down to feel better about what they are doing. 

 

None of my female friends would congratulate me on my weight loss and I thought that was odd.  Then I realized it was because they wanted to loose weight and hadn't so they couldn't be happy about mine. I believe that we need to raise people up instead of put them down, unfortunately that is not everyone's choice.   

 

I say avoid them while doing this if they continue or be around them and make them feel insecure while you are healthy.  Your choice.  :P

Or option three....get new friends.  :) Hang in there, you are doing great!

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Chris and Shannon- Thank you for the support! I agree that it is totally based on their own insecurities, and Shannon I've been in similar situations where friends can't congratulate you even after they see the payoff.  I'm proud to say that they didn't sway my resolve and I know that they're wrong, but I didn't expect such a difficult encounter.  It made me realize that a) I need new friends and 2) I need to have some good retorts in my arsenal!

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Chris and Shannon- Thank you for the support! I agree that it is totally based on their own insecurities, and Shannon I've been in similar situations where friends can't congratulate you even after they see the payoff.  I'm proud to say that they didn't sway my resolve and I know that they're wrong, but I didn't expect such a difficult encounter.  It made me realize that a) I need new friends and 2) I need to have some good retorts in my arsenal!

Have you checked out the forum "The Crazy Things People Say" It is good for a laugh and so you don't feel alone. Also "The Clothes Make The Girl" has a strategy for dealing with parties/eating out. The first thing you do is get a Mediterranean fiz (her name) it is sparkling water with a few olives and lime. Now nobody knows that you are not drinking. That should stop those questions. Another option is "Mind your own F...ing business". I have been dealing with this for a couple of years now. I DREAD going to someone's house for Pizza and Beer. Cocktail parties are easier because there is usually something I can eat. I just dig my heals in and become a complete witch with a capital B if they keep pushing me. I am finding new friends who will love me no matter what I eat (or don't eat).

 

I think that people have a need for connection and belonging (a la Brene Brown). It makes them very uncomfortable when everyone else is drinking or eating junk but you. They want to force you to join the crowd so they don't feel so uncomfortable. Here's a quote I saw today. "It's better to walk alone, then with a crowd going in the wrong direction" 

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I've mostly gotten great support myself, but I've been at the mercy of food pushers before and I finally made the decision that by the 3rd time someone does not respond to my saying no I'm going to very calmly asking why they are bullying me. Seriously that is what it is. Hang in there and find people that lift you up not push you down.

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I'm even more surprised that your reason for this is pinpointing a health concern and not weight loss. I find if I explain how "sick and awful" I've been feeling for years and am trying to get to the bottom of things then people are okay, but if I even touch the idea of losing weight then it's a crazy fad. I don't even tell anyone when im on W30 anymore, I lie and say I'm not feeling good or have diarrhea or something so I don't want to eat rich foods, drink,alcohol,etc. What a pain, so awesome that you didn't give in!

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Mom2A&M- I agree! I find the "weight loss" topic to really be a trigger for a lot of people, so I just leave it out of the equation.  And truthfully, I'm pretty happy with my weight.  If I lost a few pounds on the Whole30 I wouldn't complain, but if I didn't I wouldn't complain either.  I'm in it much more for health reasons.  

 

I think that you're right that in the future I may have to just lie and leave out the entire Whole30 discussion, which is too bad because 1) It wouldn't hurt a lot of people to have a little exposure to a new way of thinking, and 2) I hate the idea that I have to lie to my friends about my life choices.  But at the end of the day the most important thing is my own health and happiness.  

 

Thank you for the support!

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I am SO glad I signed up for this forum. I am on day 7, and have had awful experiences with friends and family (even my husband) criticizing my choice to start Whole30. Some of the things they were saying really hurt my feelings, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who has had a hard time with this. 

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Mom2A&M- I agree! I find the "weight loss" topic to really be a trigger for a lot of people, so I just leave it out of the equation.  And truthfully, I'm pretty happy with my weight.  If I lost a few pounds on the Whole30 I wouldn't complain, but if I didn't I wouldn't complain either.  I'm in it much more for health reasons.  

 

I think that you're right that in the future I may have to just lie and leave out the entire Whole30 discussion, which is too bad because 1) It wouldn't hurt a lot of people to have a little exposure to a new way of thinking, and 2) I hate the idea that I have to lie to my friends about my life choices.  But at the end of the day the most important thing is my own health and happiness.  

 

Thank you for the support!

I think the exposure only works one on one, when that person pursues answers to what your doing to feel great, not in a group setting.

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FWIW, you do realize it's all about their insecurities and not you?  ;) 

 

 

So true!  And I've found it's the same thing when conversation turns to parenting styles.  By you saying how you do things, it makes many people defensive about their own choices. 

 

In general, I find it works best not to say too much.  At this point, however, I look so much better than I did when I started my first W30 last March, that people will ask me questions with genuine interest.*  If I'd only been doing some fad diet to lose weight, I don't think my skin would be glowing the way it is or my mood would be so great (generally, of course - we're not talking perfection people ;-) ). 

 

Also, when people inquire in a more casual way (or catch me heating up my breakfast), I tend to stick more to an abbreviated explanation of replacing grains with vegetables.  This seems to be a bit low on the controversy schedule because a good number of people (I hesitate to say most here - see e.g., examples in the Crazy Things People Say thread!!) can wrap their heads around more vegetables = good idea. 

 

All that aside, it sucks that your friends were so crappy to you.  You're doing a great thing for yourself, and they should be happy for you.  I hope it works out great for you and that you find relief for your health issues!

 

* I did a W30 in March/April of last year.  Then I stuck pretty close to plan for most of the rest of the year.  Mostly falling of the wagon for me consists of indulging in too many treats.  My meals have stayed pretty much W30.  After some holiday over-indulging and feeling like treats had become too routine instead of special, I started my second W30 on Jan 2.  I don't really know how much weight I've lost since last March because I don't own a scale, but my best estimate is about 30-35 pounds.

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I am SO glad I signed up for this forum. I am on day 7, and have had awful experiences with friends and family (even my husband) criticizing my choice to start Whole30. Some of the things they were saying really hurt my feelings, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who has had a hard time with this. 

Sorry that you are having a tough time.  I bet your husband is nervous only because he is worried you are going to make him do it too.  :)

 

People tend to behave a certain way when their way of life is threatened.  And you my dear with your awesomeness is uber threatening! 

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Like the bumper sticker says, mean people suck. Why some are nervous about individuals having the right to make choices about what to put into their bodies just amazes me! The only time it is appropriate to question is when and if there is a health concern, such as, you look underweight, or how do you get enough calcium on that diet? What about fiber.? Being annoyed and trying to sabotage someone's whole 30 because you are inconvenienced/jealous/not prone to self examination is not okay!

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Chris and Shannon- Thank you for the support! I agree that it is totally based on their own insecurities, and Shannon I've been in similar situations where friends can't congratulate you even after they see the payoff.  I'm proud to say that they didn't sway my resolve and I know that they're wrong, but I didn't expect such a difficult encounter.  It made me realize that a) I need new friends and 2) I need to have some good retorts in my arsenal!

 

I know some people in Portland if you still need new friends! ;):P

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I have no problem telling people firmly that I am not going to eat something and then not eating it.  But I would like to be able explain my point of view to others in a way that doesn't have to turn combative and that is acceptable.  If you have any tried and true explanations, or even would like to commiserate  I would love to hear about your experiences!

 

Hi Natalie A, there are many benefits to doing a Whole30, some are less obvious than others. One of the less obvious ones (in my opinion) happens to be turning the Whole30er into a kitchen ninja (and seriously, who doesn't want to be a kitchen ninja?!)

 

Another benefit is being presented with myriad opportunities to learn to be more assertive about your food choices in social situations(!) This is a blessing in disguise, really. All these people have (unknowingly!) volunteered themselves to be your victims guinea pigs in your personal process to own your food decisions!

 

I emphasize "personal" because it is just that; your own business. Unless we're talking about a family member, close friend, or spouse, and their inquiries are coming from a genuine place of concern (maybe they're worried you aren't eating enough, etc.), everyone else needs to mind their own business. You do not need to explain yourself to people. I repeat: You. Do. Not. Need. To. Explain. Yourself. And always remember: combat implies engagement. You also do not need to engage with them.  

 

It restores my faith in humanity (if only fleetingly ;) ) that there are so many people on this forum who are struggling with ways to respond politely to whoever it is who is questioning them about their food choices. I am genuinely impressed by your commitment to tact and civility. But just consider for a moment that the person who's just scrutinized you about something you've decided to put (or not put) in your mouth has just proven that s/he doesn't give a flying leap about being polite or respectful towards you. If you are trying to be respectful or polite, and he or she isn't, then metaphorically, you are both playing the same game, but the other person isn't following the rules!  

 

The truth of the matter is this: some people just need to get shut down. If you can find a way to do it politely, by all means, that's the preferred avenue. When you are faced with a situation where your food choices are getting scrutinized/ridiculed/questioned, you have a few seconds to determine where that person is coming from, ie: what his or her intention is. If it's anything other than genuine concern, or genuine curiosity, then I would suggest politely responding to them in whatever way you see fit, but only once. Any time you have to repeat yourself, it means you didn't mean it the first time. This only-once tactic works exceptionally well when you have the body language that goes along with it. For instance your tone of voice, and choice of words can be exceptionally sweet, but pair that with very direct eye contact and slow, but deliberate body movement (like a hunter!) if moving at all (like a hunter!), and you will send a clear message to that person that they had better not give you a hard time about this again. Whole30 aside, standing your ground is a very, very valuable life skill.

 

Something else I have done in the past when the situation was appropriate/applicable is, after having been the subject of an off-hand or rude or completely erroneous remark, I've turned, looked at my would-be-accuser, and said, “I would need a flow chart to explain what's wrong with what you just saidâ€. And then turn around and nonchalantly walk away! It keeps them guessing! It drives them crazy! It's so much fun!

 

And yes, if a friend is being anywhere from consistently unsupportive to downright sabotaging towards your efforts during your Whole30 process (or at any other time really), then you need to re-evaluate if that person is really your friend. 

 

So what may end up happening is instead of you dreading going to social functions while doing a Whole30, you may actually find yourself looking forward to going to social functions because you relish any opportunity to practice your new-found skill :)

 

Hope this helps!

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People are really insensitive. My neighbor has recently taken up juicing. She's also a vegetarian. I think she's crazy, but it seems to work for her. I even gave her the $400 juicer we bought but never use.

 

So while I have been the recipient of criticism of my diet, I try not to judge others (at least not to their face, I reserve the right to think they are nuts behind their back :P )

 

I simply tell people, this is the way I have to eat to be healthy. If they press, I tell them just how sick I was, why I had to be in the hospital for 4 days with nothing by mouth and was quarantined with nurses and drs. coming in my room with masks on because they thought I had some kind of weird infection (I didn't). I tell them that for 30 years, I have had the equivalent of a colonscopy prep at least twice a month, if not more. I tell them that I suffered from anxiety and depression, joint pain, brain fog and acid reflux. I had severe deficiencies in many vitamins, especially B12 and D. I tell them that food can make you sick, but it can also make you healthy. And I've made my choice. And they are free to make theirs. And no, you don't NEED bread. Thanks and pass the coconut milk.

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If you tell people you're allergic to something they back off right away. I have horrible reactions to alcohol, eggs and flaxseed, Nobody wants you dying or puking in front of them. It also works if you tell them something gives you violent diarrhea :P

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If you tell people you're allergic to something they back off right away. 

 

I totally understand the urge to do this, really I do, but it is not a good idea. Save the allergy comment for allergies so they continue to be given proper attention. If not, then we end up in a "boy who cried wolf" scenario where allergies are not taken seriously and that could have grave results.

 

Say things like "I'm doing an elimination diet to figure out some health issues, so it is really important that I don't have even a tiny amount of whatever for 30 days or I have to start over" "yeah, I wish I could eat dairy like you can. it looks really yummy, but it gives me terrible stomach aches." true stuff.

 

I find the longer I do this the less I make a big deal of it (like asking others to accommodate me or freaking out when something is served wrong or whatever) the less it is an issue. I think a lot of the responses are people who feel judged--they think me not eating a cupcake is commentary on them eating one--so it helps to let them know you are not judging their choices.

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I guess I can see that (if they see you eating it elsewhere especially). I really AM allergic to alcohol and flax so I can never have even a tiny bit of either. The eggs are a severe intolerance that results in vomiting the second they touch my tongue so that one is pretty cut and dried too. For dairy the 'I'm lactose intolerant' seems to do the trick! Because everyone knows sometimes you are willing to pay the consequences but you make the call as to when!

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Nobody wants you dying or puking in front of them. It also works if you tell them something gives you violent diarrhea :P

Kale DOES this to me, as do many other dark leafy greens. Needless to say, I avoid them. Which is what I wanted to tell the relative who told me that green smoothies are the best breakfast one can eat, but I used the term "intestinal distress" instead, and the relative thought I mean 'embarrassing flatulence' instead. But the next time I hear about it, I'm going for the full Monty. I've observed that the more graphic and TMI I get, the more quickly it shuts down uninvited criticism. Using terms like "blotchy, red stinging rash," "unbearably painful, room-clearing gas," or "violent diarrhea" are usually enough to get people to lay off trying to get me to eat something I've politely declined.

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Sometimes we make things more complicated that they ought to be. Sometimes we don't need to justify, apologize, explain, mince words. Sometimes you just tell 'em to back off (with varying degrees of emphasis, depending on the situation).

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If you tell people you're allergic to something they back off right away. I have horrible reactions to alcohol, eggs and flaxseed, Nobody wants you dying or puking in front of them. It also works if you tell them something gives you violent diarrhea :P

 

I get to quite validly do this! I had a series of rectal bleeds a few years ago, and since changing my food, I've worked out that its the combination of gluten sensitivity (mostly, but other processed foods contribute too) and my inherited bleeding disorder. I just describe, factually, exactly what happens when I have that kind of bleed and people really don't want to know anything else and tend not to argue. I never ever thought I'd have a way to turn that horrible symptom into a perk. :)

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You shouldn't feel pressured to explain. What you eat at a restaurant is your business!

If I am going to someone's house for a meal, I might explain beforehand that I am on a special diet (no explanation necessary) and that they shouldn't feel offended if I don't eat certain things, but that I'm just going for the company. 

Also I have found 'silent allies' in some social situations - people who also avoid bread/rice/sugar/etc. for whatever reasons but who don't necessarily advertise it. 

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Some people also feel guilt, rather than fear of judgement. They feel guilty they can eat X & Y and you can't. It's weird but it's true, just like survivor guilt.

 

It's worth keeping an eye on people who behave badly towards you in relation to food. They may have their own issues or they may take the opportunity to bully.

 

If it's a recurring event, it's time to consider whether good friends would treat you this way, and confront them, but do it one on one.

 

People in groups (especially when drinking) are often more stupid and thoughtless. Chocolate and bread are "real food"??!! lol

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http://whole30.com/2014/11/dear-melissa-talking-whole30-with-friends-and-family/

 

"First, always, always, always let them come to you. Wait until they show an interest in what you’re doing, ask you about how you’re eating, or say, “You look great, what’s your secret?” People who aren’t ready really aren’t ready, and there is nothing you can do to persuade someone who isn’t ready, or doesn’t see the need to change. No matter how much your parents might need this information, until they decide there is a problem, they need to do something about it, and they are ready to take the first step, your “advice” is unsolicited and unwelcome.

 

If and when people do ask you for help, advice, or guidance, make sure the setting is right for this kind of conversation. The dinner table is never, ever the right setting. Talking about people’s food choices while they’re eating less healthy food (most likely) is a recipe for disaster, and they may not give you another chance. Say, “I’d be happy to tell you more about how I’m eating after lunch—grab me this afternoon, we’ll go for a walk and chat. How was your son’s baseball game?” Scope out people’s emotional state, too, before you start talking. I’ve had people ask me, “So what’s with this crazy diet of yours?” in a very belligerent, aggressive way—and that’s totally different context than people asking in a friendly, open, curious way. Respond with details to the latter, not the former."

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