The people we hang out with can have a major influence on our food choices; life can be challenging when we’re striving to eat healthy but those in our close circles aren’t on board.
For those of you who are social butterflies, sticking to a plant-based diet can be especially difficult when eating out with friends or family members who love their burgers and buckets of fried chicken. When you observe others eating high-fat, high-calorie foods, you may feel it’s easier to join in than to be scrutinized for your healthy choices.
If the people in your life aren’t supportive of your diet plan, they may try to make you feel guilty, chide or tease you, refuse to assist with cooking, get mad at you, feel threatened by you, or in some cases, try to sabotage your efforts by tempting you back into old habits.
That’s why dependency upon your family’s approval can easily set you up for failure. If you recognize that peer pressure from family or friends is going to derail your efforts, here are a few tips which could keep you on track:
- Communication. Have a frank discussion with family members to assure them they’re not under attack and they won’t be forced into eating as you do. Explaing what’s motivating you to eat better, ASK for their support, and share exactly how they can help you.
- Discuss the negotiables. Do you want them to keep junk food and soda pop stored out of sight? Will the shopping and cooking tasks be shared? Is the family willing to join you at times? Can you agree on some restaurants that will create a dish within your guidelines?
- If your talk falls on deaf ears, remember that you do not need your family’s (or friend’s) support to change your diet. It would be lovely to have their favor, but you can succeed on your own, especially if you find an online community of like-minded eaters, or search for local meet-up groups in your area.
- Resolve that you will not compromise your health by being bullied into unhealthy eating or being made to feel guilty about saying no to bad foods. Guard yourself and remember your commitment. Your well-being depends on it.
- When it comes to meeting socially with friends, again, a frank discussion is in order. Tell them what you’re doing, and why. ASK for their support. Call the chosen restaurant ahead of time to request a dish made with no animal products or added oils. Chefs are usually very accomodating and happy to create some type of pasta dish, rice/bean/potato dish, a veggie pizze, or a loaded salad.
I know of several “divided” families when it comes to diet. Their solutions are varied, but they’ve figured out how to make it work. You can too, my friend. The strife and division may settle down once others realize you’re serious about it. And by observing your commitment, steadfastness, and improving health, you’ll be influencing those you care about to hopefully join you.
Resources for local and online groups can be found here. (Scroll down to ‘Local Support Groups’ or ‘Online Support Groups.’)
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18, NLT)