If you’ve ever tried to eat healthy among friends, coworkers, or family members who don’t share your enthusiasm for maintaining a balanced lifestyle, you may have noticed some conflicting comments about your food choices.
Anyone who knows me can say with confidence that if they came to my home at any given time, there would be mostly organic produce in my fridge. When food is not present, I get complemented for my healthy habits. Friends say my love for healthy, yummy food inspires them and often rubs off on them.
However, when we actually go out to eat together, their attitude changes. Suddenly, the once encouraging friends, who are now looking at the menu, have given up their kind ideals and turned hostile. As I mostly prefer to eat vegetarian, I have less to choose from on the menu, which makes my ordering time shorter, so I order first, something like veggie pita wrap or black bean and kale salad.
“Are you on a diet?” they ask, annoyed. “That won’t last you more than an hour! What about dessert?”
At work it’s the same. I work at a cancer center where pharmaceutical sales reps provide lunch for nurses and doctors almost every day of the week. They usually have one salad dish, and the rest is selections of pizzas, fried foods, veggies cooked to mush, and an array of dessert items, like carmel-drizzled cheesecake and walnut brownies. After piling my plate with greens and maybe a piece of grilled chicken, fellow co-workers snarl, “That’s why you’re so skinny” or “Where’s the fun in life if you don’t eat what you want?” I get so tired of explaining that I actually DO eat what I want, so I just shrug and say, “yeah.”
When it’s someone’s birthday in the office, and there’s a huge cake, I’ll take a piece because I believe in balance. I enjoy lots of activities that are great cardio workouts, so I don’t feel guilty when I splurge. However, when I do pick up that piece of cake, I get more negativity. “What? Miss Healthy is eating sugar?”
Of course they’re smiling and just teasing, but what is really behind the snickering?
I believe that other people, thin or not, really want to look better and be healthy, but they don’t want to take the time to change their habits. When they see someone else eating the way they should, they feel guilty so they make snarky comments to make themselves feel better.
It’s hard to believe when you’ve let your body remain addicted to the Standard American Diet (SAD), but I actually enjoy what I eat. I have fun experimenting in my kitchen, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I’m at the perfect weight for my height, and I feel great.
When you’re first starting to eliminate sugary, fried, and processed foods from your diet, it’s challenging enough to ignore the messages from your own body, the Chips Ahoy and Doritos calling your name from the grocery shelves, let alone the peer pressure from people around you. But once you’ve been off dead foods for a while, and you nourish your body with living, colorful foods, like soft dark leafy greens, and crunchy apples, you will feel more satisfied. You won’t have to resist the bad stuff anymore because you’re no longer dependent on it.
So whether you’re just starting to eat healthier, or you have been for a while, just ignore the teasing and feel good about the choices you’re making! You’ll live a longer, more vibrant life because of it.
Do you find yourself struggling with this problem? What are your tricks for overcoming the pressure of your friends or the siren song of the Skittles?