Explaining Your Diet

It can be hard sometimes to explain a new diet or workout routine to  friends and family, Whether you went Paleo or just decided to get healthier, if you’re the pioneer health nut in your social circle, it can be challenging to explain why you don’t love pasta or ice cream night anymore. I’ve had a few people ask me how I explain it, because they are simply fed up trying to get everyone to get it. And the same response won’t work in every situation.  So, to help you get through holiday parties without enduring the third degree, here are a few different situations, and a response I’d use for each.

1. When the Listener is Ready to Be Educated and You’re Ready to Talk

This is my go-to response. Without a doubt. While some people may feel envious or question their own abilities in the light of your new found nutrition badass-ness, most questions come from a place of curiosity and interest. And when that happens, don’t let the opportunity pass. I have a 1-2 minute ready made response that explains why I do what I do in simple terms. Some talking points include

  • What I eat (lean meats, fruits and veggies, plain dairy, nuts, and seeds), what I don’t (processed grains, packaged foods, sugar, and beans), and why (this will be personal to you, and how you stumbled upon your new lifestyle).
  • What the research says. There isn’t a ton on the Paleo diet that is long term, but there’s lots of stuff on high protein, lower carb diets that can apply. Check out my post on the Paleo Diet for some sources. DO NOT quote your favorite Paleo blogger. Bloggers are not a scientific reference and will damage the point you want to make.
  • The results You got. You can talk calories, percent of macro-nutrients, BPA, hormones, etc. all you want. People respond to results. So brag. Tell them how much weight you lost, how awesome you feel, how much better your workouts are going, whatever.
  • How easy it was. Tell them how much you loved bread/cookies/pasta/beans. Tell them how you thought you could NEVER give them up. But then you did. Be honest about what you struggled with, but overall emphasize that it’s not as scary and bad as people think.
  • How you keep it up. If you really want someone to try it,demonstrate it. Make them a home cooked, healthy meal. Share where you get recipes, what herbs you use, how you cook your veggies, etc. Tell them about awesome, healthy meals you’ve made. (Like the bacon wrapped shrimp below).

2. When You Need a One-Liner

Let me be clear, I almost ALWAYS recommend using response number one. The best way to get your friends and family on board is to lead by example. But some people don’t respond to a logical discussion of nutrient levels, chemicals, and science. Or maybe you’re at a party and don’t have time to break out the Nutrition 101 presentation.

In that case, try one of these:

  • I’m not on a diet, I changed my lifestyle. And it’s working.
  • I lost 5 lbs and I can still eat bacon. How’s your diet going?
  • I feel great, I’m never hungry, and that stuff doesn’t really tempt me anymore because I know what it does to my body.
  • If you don’t believe me, why don’t you try it for a month. It’s not as hard as you may think…

If one of these lines hooks them, well, see response number 1!

3. When No Other Response Has Worked

This is a last resort only, when your coworkers has commented about it 9 times. When your friends still invite you for pastries and badger you when you opt for just a coffee. This is when you just had a doctors appointment last week and they discovered you are allergic to EVERYTHING you don’t want to eat! Gluten, lactose, peanuts, whatever.

I don’t recommend doing this often because it’s lying, and you lose any opportunity to positively influence whomever you tell this to. In addition, some people do have to struggle with a gluten allergy, lactose intolerance, or in my case, diabetes, on a daily basis. I’m not sure how I’d feel if I heard someone lie about having diabetes so they could avoid eating a cookie without having to just own up to having a unique diet. There’s nothing wrong with doing things a little differently, and if you’re vocal about it people will eventually stop questioning you. They may even join you!

Did I miss any strategies that others have used? Please share your strategies for explaining a unique diet or workout routine!

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