The holidays are quickly approaching. For some of us, this means quality time spent with family, friends and the ones we love. Unfortunately, for some, this time of year can also create a lot of anxiety. Fear of dinners and events spent answering questions and defending how you choose to eat. Today I’m here to help with some tips and tricks to help you deal when people don’t support your food choices.
Try to Understand Where They Are Coming From
Before we can decide how to handle a situation, it’s helpful to get an idea of where people are coming from. What’s triggering their lack of support or judgement of your food choices? Let’s explore some of that now.
Fear of Judgement
Lack of Knowledge
Concern for Your Health and Well-being
A lack of knowledge may leave loved ones genuinely concerned for your health and well-being. There are many that still believe we cannot survive without animal products. If this comes up, you can calmly mention that you’ve done your due diligence and understand how to get all the nutrients you need. If you start encountering some argument, try telling them about websites like nutritionfacts.org, where they can look at evidence-based nutrition on their own time.
Things to Remember
Food Choices Are Deeply Personal
Food is the new politics it seems. Opinions on good nutrition are skewed and highly polarizing. Just as you would avoid talking politics at a potentially tense event, it’s best to avoid food as a topic of conversation at a holiday meal. Especially if you know that those around you are unsupportive of your lifestyle. If it comes up you can’t help that, but don’t be the one to bring it up. Instead, talk about the things you do have in common.
Sometimes we don’t always come across the way we would like. Have you ever said something and then realized the tone you used was completely unintended? This can happen a lot more if you’re feeling stressed or anxious. If you’re starting to feel this way, keep an ear out for your tone. Are you coming across as cocky, arrogant or judgmental? This will only make matters worse. Keep a level head and be sure your tone and mannerisms aren’t part of the problem.
You Can’t Force Someone to Change
Save your sanity and just accept this fact. No amount of advising, cajoling, pushing, or anything else, will make someone change if they don’t want to. It doesn’t matter if it comes from a place of love or concern. If someone is not open to change they will not change. Simple as that. Don’t be the person who’s constantly pushing someone to do something they are unwilling to do. It will only result in frustration on both sides.
Tips to Help
Answer Questions Calmly
I mentioned it earlier, but try to answer any questions calmly and compassionately. Some questions may be out of simple curiosity. Don’t bite someone’s head off, even if you are tired of explaining where you get your protein for the 40-dozenth time. It just makes you look like a villain and will add to the tension of the situation. Try to avoid getting defensive too, this really closes down communication, which will make matters much worse.
Find Support Elsewhere
It can definitely sting if you don’t have the support of your family and friends, but it’s not the end of the world. There are all kinds of groups online that you can join to get the support, advice and guidance you need. Search around and find one that works for you. There are lots on Facebook, and more are being created every day. There might even be some local community and social groups you can join. You may be surprised by the options you find.
Sometimes people can’t see where you are coming from. After all, it’s not always easy to see someone else’s point of view. If you get comments to that effect, try suggesting books or documentaries that inspired you to eat this way. They may not be open to change, but if they watch or read your suggested book or documentary, they may better understand where you are coming from. This could go a long way in bridging the gap.
Adopt a Live and Let Live Mentality
I know it can be tough at times. When you adopt this lifestyle, you start to feel so good that you want to shout it from the rooftops. Sometimes those shouts will fall on deaf ears. Save your energy for those who approach you with openness and curiosity. When dealing with unsupportive people around you, it helps to adopt a ‘you do you, boo’ mentality. You do your thing, and let them do theirs. No judgement, no snide remarks. Stay in your lane and do what works for you. Don’t focus on what others are doing, it’s not your choice to make.
The Bottom Line
How to Eat Plant-Based When Your Family Does Not
Cognitive Dissonance: The Powerful Force No One Talks About
Tips for Surviving BBQ Season While Eating Plant-Based
Feature image credit: Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash