One of the most challenging things about upgrading your health and making positive changes to your diet and lifestyle can be interacting with people who may not fully understand or support what you’re doing — or why you’re doing it. When you’re faced with that kind of social pressure, it can be easy to give in and fall back on old habits. Here are a few tips to help you stick with your new routine.
Don’t take it personally
If someone is critical of your new dietary habits, for example, understand that it probably has nothing to do with you. Maybe they know they’d benefit from positive lifestyle changes as well but have not been fully motivated to make those changes. Or maybe they’re critical of your dietary decisions because they’ve been exposed to inaccurate information. There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to nutrition. Whatever the case may be, reminding yourself that the criticisms aren’t about you personally can help you continue to feel confident about the choices you’re making.
Don’t be afraid to uphold your boundaries
Say you’re experimenting with going gluten-free. You visit your friend at her home, and she offers you a freshly baked cookie. You decline, but she says, “Come on, you can have just one, can’t you?” It’s not rude to turn her down again, and explain that you’re trying out a gluten-free diet. Of course, your friend is trying to be kind by offering you a food she thinks you’ll enjoy. And for this reason, many of us find ourselves sometimes eating foods we don’t really want to eat — we’re afraid we’ll hurt someone’s feelings if we turn them down. But you have the right to uphold your boundaries.
While you’re under no obligation to eat something just because a friend or family member has put it in front of you, it is a good idea to let others know ahead of time about any dietary changes you’re making, so they’re not surprised when you turn down a food they’ve seen you eat in the past. And don’t expect others to cater to your dietary changes — snack ahead of time at home, if necessary, or bring a dish to share that you can eat and that everyone will enjoy. This has the added benefit of introducing others to new ways of eating. If you bring a paleo dessert, for example, your family members may be pleasantly surprised to learn how tasty grain-free baking can be.
Have an elevator pitch
There are a myriad of reasons why we make the decision to change our dietary habits. Even if the primary motivation is just to improve our physical health, there are often very specific reasons why we feel a particular plan could work best for our unique bodies and health needs. Not to mention the emotional, psychological, and even spiritual motivations that underlie our dietary choices.
When someone puts us on the spot and asks us why we’re making these changes, it can be hard to know where to start, leaving us feeling self-conscious or embarrassed. So think ahead — you might even write it out. In simple, concise terms, clearly describe the top couple of reasons why you’re doing this. Having a clearly stated explanation that others can quickly grasp will help you feel more confident when you’re faced with these kinds of questions.
Making changes to your diet and lifestyle is physically and emotionally challenging. When you get pushback from your friends or family it can be hard to bear. Find at least one supportive friend or family member who can stand up for you and help you stick to your goals. As you care for your body and achieve better health, your results will prove the value of your effort! You can do it!