I choose to eat healthy and exercise often because it makes me feel good. My diet may not be conventional but I’m not weird or being difficult when I say I don’t eat dairy or wheat. Nor should I have to defend myself when I turn down dessert at a family dinner. Unfortunately, I witness family and friends treat their loved ones with disrespect and unkindness when someone speaks up against an unhealthy food choice. And, lack of support in your health journey can make or break your ability to stick with things long-term.
A few weeks ago, a friend was explaining that she’d been to her doctor and was told that she needed to change her diet or she’d be very sick soon. This scared her and she contacted me for help and support.
I believe she kept this decision to herself for a while because I ran into her for lunch with her family sometime later. She’d consciously decided to join them for this meal, knowing full well that some food might not be the best option. But, we’d talked about balance and how sometimes life gets in the way; and how important it is to not let this derail your goals.
I explained to her that it was more important to acknowledge that sometimes she wouldn’t have total control over her food. That knowing she was eating a few unhealthy items for one meal shouldn’t be enough to undo all her hard work. But, lack of support can really put a damper on things!
While at lunch with her family, her mom found out she was on a ‘diet’ (in her mom’s eyes) and told my friend that, by eating lunch with them that day, she would be ‘totally blowing it’. This comment struck my friend because it not only made her feel terrible and guilty for eating a ‘bad’ meal that day but made her feel like a failure.
Yet, she is not a failure. She’s learning how to balance healthy eating with those moments in her life where she can’t control her food.
Creating a healthy lifestyle around food and not following strict conventional diet plans does NOT make her, or anyone, a failure!
Lack of Support from Family
Lack of support from anyone can hurt your health, but from family members? It’s so much worse!
These people are supposed to love you and care about you, yet they’re often the first to criticize your decision to be different.
I’ve been through this myself many, many times. Family speaks down to me because I skip dessert. They make snide comments when I pass on the bread. And they show their lack of support in how often they berate me for not eating traditional North American food (and for my love of ethnic food). I’m weird, an anomaly, in their eyes, and I see it.
Yeah, at first this lack of support stung. A lot. But now I know how to respond and it’s my job to help my clients and friends learn how to roll with it.
But, I get it. Being told that you’re going to ‘blow your entire diet’ simply by eating a holiday or restaurant meal can make you think “why bother…I may as well just give up”.
How to Deal With Lack of Support
There’s no easy way to handle lack of support. It takes a strong will to be healthier and the realization that maybe those naysayers are a little bit jealous of you. After all, you’ve just stepped up to the plate and shown your circle of friends and family that you’ve got what it takes to make changes that they may have only dreamed about.
Or, you’re making changes that they themselves have failed on in the past. And they’re jealous.
Whatever their reasons for berating you for your decision to be healthier, know that that is THEIR problem, not yours.
What you do for your own health is your business. Remember WHY you’ve decided to make these changes. Think about the people who will benefit from your health: your kids, your spouse, your supportive friends. Remember that you’ll be living a much healthier life in your later years, able to do all the things you’ve dreamed about if you’d like.
A lack of support is hard to deal with at first, I get it. Keep your goals and your desires in focus. Try not to let comments get you down or feel like a failure.
Because you’re not a failure!
Lifestyle Changes Versus Conventional Diets
Making a lifestyle change can be a big decision. It also tends to take more time to really get the hang of it over a strict diet.
Diets are point-in-time exercises. You usually buy into a program that’s 8, 12- or 16-weeks long. And you stick with the program for that time, trying really hard NOT to ‘fall off the wagon’ or ‘blow it’. Traditionally, these diets do fail because you ‘cheat’ on a meal and feel like a failure. And many are designed to make you feel like a failure.
Then, the diet ends and you’re kind of left hanging. What do you do now? Too often, these programs don’t help transition you into ‘real life’. They don’t teach you how to make healthier food choices. They simply say farewell and you are totally on your own. No wonder so many conventional diets fail!
So, yeah, the lack of support you may be getting is likely due to this outdated mindset around healthy eating. In the past, people ate healthy only to lose weight and only for a certain period of time. It was easy to just blow the diet and forget about it, only to return a few months or years later when their weight or health got out of control.
But with lifestyle changes? This is a whole other ballgame!
You can’t ‘cheat’ lifestyle changes. You can’t ‘blow it’ when you switch up your eating to improve your health long-term. Why?
Because lifestyle changes are designed to be long-term habits that will stick with you for, you guessed it, life!
I am NOT on a diet. I choose to avoid sugar as often as possible. I’m not doing this to lose weight – I do this because I feel so much better when I don’t eat sugar.
Be Strong, Carry On
Whether you’re a client of mine or not, I want to extend my support to you for whatever health changes you’re making. I know firsthand what it feels like to have that lack of support from family and friends. I know you can feel depressed and frustrated when people around keep trying to force-feed you junk food or make claims that fat-free chemically infused processed foods are “okay because they don’t have any calories”.
You know better than they do. You’re making a bigger leap than they are. And you’re doing this because you know, deep down in your heart and soul, that your health matters.
It matters to you. It matters to your children. It matters to the people you love.
So, give it time…perhaps your family and friends will come around, perhaps they won’t. Just remember that I will always support you and that you are making these changes for YOU! Not them.
And if they don’t like it, they can suck it! That’s my motto (and you’re welcome to steal it)!!
Please, please don’t let a lack of support halt your wonderful and amazing efforts to improve your health.