Monday, August 1, 2011

Guest Blogger: Anonymous on Peer and Family Pressure

Good Morning! The following is a letter that I received from an HGK reader who brought up some pretty important concerns about following a Plant-strong diet. I thought that we could all put our heads together and figure this out, so I asked her to be a guest blogger. Please welcome Anonymous to HGK.

I have been eating a plant-strong diet since the spring and I've had huge success in weight loss and more importantly with an overall attitude shift on eating and nutrition as a whole. I've just ordered the reading materials in order to complete Dr. Fuhrman's Nutritional Education Program. I've also been gobbling up tons and tons of online material in an effort to solidify my knowledge so that in a year or so I can begin to offer coaching services for people in my city who want to embark on a change towards a plant based diet.

There is, however one area in particular that I have struggled with quite a bit.

My journey towards a plant based diet started a little like yours. I had been a long time member of Peertrainer and kept receiving periodic e-mails that I mostly trashed without so much as a glance. That all changed when a looming trip south (i.e. bikini weather) had me paying closer attention. I had started the usual calorie restriction diet and eventually enrolled in the "point of no return" program. My starting weight was 150lbs and my goal then was to be and again I even had the crazy dream of 135, but I knew I could never maintain that; "it would be too difficult", I had said to myself. Peertrainer introduced me to Dr. Fuhrman. I started with the Eat to Live "Vook" on my iPod and I haven't looked back since. I was just under 140 lbs when I left for my trip and I even came back a pound or two lighter thanks to Whole Foods and a cooler! I am now at 130 lbs (WHAT? Crazy stuff, I know!) and I know for sure that I won't be 150 again.

During my past attempts at getting a handle on my weight and health (I was often tired and zapped of energy), I have always found those around me willing to engage in conversations about the subject. I gather now that this was because my choices in food were not too different from their own or that these choices were what people considered to be "normal"...hmm, could it be that is why each of those attempt eventually failed? Probably.

Shortly after having read and implemented Eat to Live, I felt the familiar urge to shout it on the roof tops (like when I called everything "poison" after reading one of Jilian Micheals' books). I decided to hold it in, to not "preach" as I had done in the past. At this point, it was still too new and I was uncertain of how well it would all work out.

As time went on, people noticed the changes in me and started ask questions and so I began to talk more about what I had changed. It was not long before the teasing about "poison" and comments such as "you aren't becoming a vegetarian ARE YOU?" and the like were rampant, mostly coming from two of my closest friends. They even resorted to comments which tried to make me feel like I was actually doing harm to myself or that I was an outsider ("oh she won't eat this, she is being 'good' ") or as though I mean because I was depriving my kids of junk food. I even think that one of my friends would purposely put bad food in front of me while pressuring me to eat it. Should I have the misfortune of allowing my kids or myself to eat off plan, I most certainly will hear a comment about it. It seems that I can't win either way.

Do I give my opinion and voice my knowledge when the topic of food, health and nutrition come up? Absolutely! But I seem to be paying a price for this. I carefully avoid raising the subject myself so that I am not perceived as preaching. Lately, I have simply disengaged from the conversation all together....not a good start for someone who wants to get into nutritional coaching.

These comments were all said in jest, of course and I know that these people care about me and would not want to intentionally hurt my feelings. Knowing my friends and family, I even expected a certain amount of teasing, but I didn't expect the meanness that came with it. I also didn't anticipate how much it would bother me or how much anxiety it would cause in all sort of situations.

I have found a few sources of support. My husband has done a great job keeping up with the changes and is fully on board (he's great in the kitchen so that helps a lot). I also have great discussions about nutrition with a few of my co-workers (who I consider friends). They have never once judged or joked and have given me a great outlet for sharing our collective knowledge on the subject of health in general. There is also, of course, all of the online presence, not the least of which is your blog. It is incredibly comforting to know that so many people who have turned to a plant based diet are succeeding at a permanent change for the better.

Despite all of the positive forces pushing me in the right direction, I continue to be hurt and frustrated by the reaction of those who I consider closest to me. I'm at a loss on how to react (or not react) and depending on my mood and the day I've had, I worry it will cause rifts, which is the last thing I want.

Thank you, Anonymous, for bringing up this very important topic. I consider myself a pretty darned strong person and I know that my resolve has been rocked by the comments of people close to me. I'm still trying to pick up the pieces, but ultimately, I take responsibility for my own reactions to the comments. We can't control people or situations, we can only control how we react to them.

What has your experience been in this arena? What have those around you said to you and how have you reacted?

How do you talk about your food choices with other people? Do you try not to engage in conversation about it or do you want to share information about what you have discovered?

Do you feel pressure from your family and/or friends to eat food that is not on your plan? How do you deal with that? Do you generally give in or have you found a way to say "no thank you" and not let it mess with your head?

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