Living a healthy lifestyle and trying to eat “well” makes you feel happy, balanced, and positive, but sometimes it’s accompanied by unnecessary external negativity; like a rogue Aunty at family gatherings trying to shove cake in your face saying “surely one piece of cake won’t hurt”, or the friends who roll their eyes and think you’re crazy boring because you no longer wanna share a tub or three of ice-cream (often washed down with a few bottles of wine).
The way you choose to eat is entirely your choice and should not affect anyone around you. But too often people find ways to be negatively impacted about things that are not meant to directly affect them. In general, humans don’t like to reflect on their own flaws or insecurities and can respond negatively when these are brought to their attention; like making nasty comments about someone’s appearance to make themselves feel better, deliberately sabotaging someone else’s diet or mood so that they’ve “taken out the competition,” or trying to sway someone to eat “unhealthy foods” with them so they don’t feel as guilty for straying from their ‘diet.’
Here are some tips for dealing with the naysayers when it comes to how and what you eat without you having to walk on eggshells or compromise your values.
1. Remember that you’re in charge of your actions.
Don’t want to eat cake? Guess what sugar buns, you don’t have to! The only person that controls what goes in your mouth is you. I have never in my Health Coaching practice seen or heard of someone shoving a bread roll down someone else’s throat…but I have seen (and personally experienced) people try and “guilt-trip” others in to eating certain things, which usually only leads to the person on the receiving end of the guilt feeling even worse about themselves than if they had just said “no.”
It’s important to remember that you’re in charge of your decisions and get to choose what you eat. If you find it difficult to turn down food you don’t really want to eat, you have a few options: a) eat it and enjoy it, b) eat it and feel bad about not sticking to your guns, c) choose or take a healthier option with you, d) smile and say “no thanks.”
For those who really struggle with saying no, start exercising your “no muscle” whenever possible in other areas of your life. It’ll get easier.
2. Accept that you can’t control how people think.
You are an individual, as is everyone else around you. What you think, what you feel, and how you act is up to you. Does it really matter if someone thinks you’re bonkers for eating organic food when, to them, it’s just a waste of money? The way you live your life might not seem right to some people and vice versa. The only person who can truly pass judgement on anyone’s life is the person living it.
3. Don’t try to change others.
One thing I’ve seen a lot of my health coaching clients do is try to change the way their family/partner/friends eat because they want to “help”. As humans, we generally don’t like being preached at or told what to do. Rather than try to force someone to do something simply because you are, just live your life the way you want to, and if you are asked for advice, provide it, but don’t go around preaching at people who don’t want to hear what you have to say.
4. Re-evaluate who you surround yourself with.
The reality is that sometimes we outgrow certain relationships and not everyone is going to be accepting of your new lifestyle. I’ve even seen husbands and wives and trying to sabotage their other half by trying to stop them exercising or deliberately trying to sway them to eat bad food because they fear they are/or will leave them for someone better – that’s when it’s time for some open communication. But if you feel like certain relationships in your life are holding you back or causing negativity, then perhaps it’s time for some distance.
5. Make decisions that feel good to you.
Being healthy isn’t just about eating carrots and kale, it involves sharing moments with loved ones and maintaining a sense of balance and contentment. If you want a “cheat” meal, go for it and enjoy it. If anyone tries to criticize you for not eating like you “normally do” simply smile and tell them “I’ll be OK, don’t worry.”
And remember: there’s no one better equipped to make decisions about your body and your health than you.
Edited version originally on MindBodyGreen photo: Shutterstock