Today I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind ever since Sarah and I got back from our most recent trip back home to Seattle.
Sarah and I dramatically changed our diets about 5 years ago, and know first-hand what it’s like to be the odd ones out; especially when at the dinner table.
For us, the whole process was pretty straight-forward and we were able to stick to our routine and push through the beginning phase (which I’m going to talk more about soon), but for most this is rarely the case.
Often times, it takes a few tries of declaring your new direction – in terms of eating for health – and takes a lot of effort and focus to keep momentum until everyone is on-board with the new you. And that’s what this post is all about, my best advice to make it though the honeymoon phase of your new health-focused lifestyle.
You want to eat healthy… what’s the problem?
It’s easy for us to make up our minds and decide “Yes, I am going to start eating better. I will have more energy, lose some weight, feel better and be much happier”. But it’s another for our friends and family to be on the same page.
The problem, is you have a vision of the new you, but you’re family still sees you as you were before, drinking diet coke and eating pizza.
You want to change, but they don’t
– Often times when someone starts eating healthier, exercising, and making change in their lives, others see it as a threat. It’s an attack on the way they live their lives.
– If it’s not seen as an attack, then they are simply on auto-pilot, and aren’t used to your new preferences.
So what’s the best way to go about it?
Choose one thing you want to change at a time, and stick to it until you’ve nailed it – about 30 days for most people.
Keep at it until not only it’s a habit for you, but also for your family and coworkers to remember your new routine – which allows them to form the habit as well. Choosing multiple things to change at once decreases your odds for maintaining it, so be honest with yourself and only add one additional habit at a time.
Also, make sure you’ve interacted with your closest friends, family and coworkers so this new habit comes up, too.
Remember, most of them have no idea that you’ve made this change, so be prepared to tell your story again and again of why you decided to start doing this (or why you stopped). I’ve known people who successfully implemented a new diet, starting feeling good, only to have their family knock them off when returning home for a short visit.
“Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in” ~ The Godfather
What We Don’t Recommend
Jumping in, head first!
Some people make it that way, but most don’t.
Give yourself some time to get each habit down without pressure.
Sarah and I decided to eliminate alcohol, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, gelatin, artificial coloring, refined sugars/flours AND switch to organics all in one shot. As you can imagine, it took a long time for everyone we knew to get used to it at family dinners, holidays, parties, barbeques, etc. To be honest, if we had eliminated gluten at the same time we might not have made it!
Tip: Prepare yourself ahead of time
Doing a little bit of planning ahead can be a game changer when maintaining these new habits.
Here are a few ideas to consider…
- Bring food with you to every event (don’t rely on what will be there. Chances are you will cave and eat crap, or starve and be unhappy)
- Know the restaurant your going to (if they don’t have options there for you, eat before or don’t go)
- When traveling, research grocery stores in the area (sometimes there aren’t any good options, so plan on checking a bag with lots of prepared foods and ingredients)
Sarah and I attribute part our success to always planning ahead and never getting caught in a situation where we would have to eat something we didn’t feel good about. We are a bit extreme (as you probably already know) but we enjoy eating the way we do so much that we gladly put in the leg-work and planning to make it happen.
The best attribute for getting your family to take your healthy eating routine seriously is to have unwavering opinions about what you eat.
So the next time your mom offers you candy, or a your grandma offers you a butter biscuit, be blunt, but in a loving way. They’ll respect that.
“No thanks, Mom. Remember, I don’t eat candy anymore because it has too much sugar?”
“You’re sweet Grandma, no thanks I’m okay :)”
If you don’t, you will be sending mixed signals to them. If you cave once to them, they will remember and feel like you’re ‘coming back to normal’. And if you’re anything like us, ‘normal’ or ‘average’ just ain’t cuttin’ it :)
That’s how I got my family/friends/coworkers to take my healthy eating seriously, what about you? What did I miss?
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