Thoughts on "coming out"

by 1648 · March 08, 2012 at 01:40 AM

So, I have been eating pretty good paleo for about 2 months. I find doing it at work/home very easy. Part of it is that I'm a simple eater, if something is in front of me, I eat it. It makes setting up a menu pretty easy. My problem is that I try really hard not to draw excess attention to myself so I haven't really discussed my dietary changes with anyone. I am surrounded by run of the mill suburbanites dying in their own lives, so my choices seem odd. I just sort of avoid direct discussion. I've also lost a bit of weight (By normal standards, I'm in pretty good shape and already reasonably thin.) So, people have noticed that I'm "too thin" and ask if I'm eating enough. Truth be told, I'm eating plenty, I just don't think they're used to seeing humans as they are meant to be. I seem to be avoiding "coming out" in a paleo sense. Thoughts?

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10 Replies

20462 · March 07, 2012 at 04:34 PM

I'm Ninja style all the way. I don't offer it up but will happily respond when approached. If/when that happens I simply reply that I eat whole foods, organic and local as much as possible, and avoid those things that are processed. Simple. To the point. Everyone understands.

Not sure about the comments on your weight but how about just a grin and "thank you!" That should be a tidy way to shut 'em down :)

If it helps, here is the Whole9 elevator pitch - it's great:

I eat “real” food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit. I choose foods that are nutrient dense, with lots of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition. And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat comes from, and buy produce locally and organically as often as possible.

It’s not a low calorie “diet” – I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy and a healthy weight. In fact, my diet is probably much higher in fat than you’d imagine. Fat isn’t the enemy – it’s a great energy source when it comes from high quality foods like avocado, coconut and nuts. And I’m not trying to do a “low carb” thing, but since I’m eating vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal and pasta, it just happens to work out that way.

Eating like this is good for maintaining a healthy metabolism, and reducing inflammation within the body. It’s been doing great things for my energy levels, body composition and performance in the gym. It also helps to minimize my risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

729 · March 07, 2012 at 04:08 PM

Honestly it can be a bit of a pain in the butt to talk about eating paleo with most people. (I'm also introverted by nature, so it takes a lot out of me.) But most people don't listen to a freaking thing anyone has to say on anything, especially nutrition. As soon as you start saying anything, or finish any sentence, the response is normally something like, "Well, I read this..." or "I heard this..."

Some people are open to hearing other people's thoughts, and will have a good honest discussion. Those are the ones I like to talk to. I've had great conversations with vegetarians, for instance. You just have to find those kind of people.

Now and days I don't speak up unnecessarily. It doesn't disrupt my world, and most people like to preserve their worldly bubbles. However, I think its best to speak up if you hear someone talking about needing to lose weight, or maybe they have cholesterol they are worried about. Then I like to say, "Hey, I may know something that could help you." And gently nudge them along to marksdailyapple.com or something.

Great example, I was a waiting a table the other night, and a girl at the table was making a complicated order. She was eschewing the bread on a sandwich, and trying to get basically a custom meal. This I understood, being paleo, so I asked her if that was what she was following. She said she was doing a low carb diet, something called the 17 day cycle diet. Eventually she was looking at marksdailyapple.com on her iphone, and I learned about a new diet that I could potentially learn from. All in all, a great exchange, with no one being ruthlessly challenged. (People don't change often under challenge anyway. I think we usually like to "stick to our guns." Even if we are horribly horribly wrong. I did it as a vegetarian, than a vegan, than a low-carb paleo, now a paleo 2.0. Who knows what else I am blind to?)

21258 · March 07, 2012 at 06:42 PM

Mom? Dad? I have something to tell you...



Not going to eat a cinnabon.

I let people figure it out. People want to go out with me, they might notice I won't eat pizza. "So what, are you on a diet?" and my response, "Not really, but I don't eat grain."

1881 · March 08, 2012 at 01:40 AM

I don't tell people I'm on a diet. If someone comes to me to ask why I'm losing weight, or tells me I'm looking better or something I normally say thanks. If they ask what I'm "doing." I keep it really simple - "I stopped eating processed food." Most everyone goes, oh well that makes sense. If they keep going, or if they generally show some real interest, especially if I think they are open minded or are looking to make a change themselves then I will start delving deeper. But that's my general progression. And the "processed foods" bit will get you out of like 90% of the awkward situations.

1648 · March 07, 2012 at 07:54 PM

Thanks all! Clearly my problem is my aversion to bringing attention to myself. (In combination with a reputation dating back to my teens for eating massive quantities of crap while being overtly healthy). I feel great on this style of eating, I just feel a twinge of awkwardness in social situations. I have no intent on being a crusader, I've realized that I get myself into alot of trouble if I helpfully point out flaws in other people's logic. (That one took a bit too long to learn). So, for me it is a healthy lifestyle in plain site. I've enjoyed reading other posts on here, thanks.

7559 · March 07, 2012 at 06:47 PM

I personally recommend staying in the closet. People waste my time a lot asking questions, giving me a hard time and trying to argue with me. I have found I cannot persuade them and focus my time on somebody like my Mom who is open to it. I wish I had mainly kept my mouth shut although people ask me all the time what I did to be smaller and fitter.

If I could go back I would be more vague and less of a crusader. People don't buy it--even when the proof is in front of them.

7490 · March 07, 2012 at 06:31 PM

You're only 2 months in. I promise you that by the time you reach a year, you'll be far more comfortable with it.

I also had a hard time suddenly being "that special person" at the restaurant or the dinner party. But after a while, it gets pretty hard to hide.

If you have a handful of folks with whom you socialize, it might actually help to let them know what you're up to. It's been such a blessing to have some friends who know how I eat so when I go to their place, I know I won't have to worry about it. You can also alleviate some of that pressure by always bringing something you can eat without reservation and share it with others. I'm often on dessert duty for that very reason.

If you're looking to explain as little as possible, present it in a health-oriented manner. Just say you noticed you weren't feeling great so you changed a few things about your diet and now you feel better (sleep better, workout stronger, whatever). You don't have to get into a debate about the finer points or how the SAD is killing everyone. That happens to me all the time and it's a buzzkill for sure. :)

4703 · March 07, 2012 at 05:16 PM

I think that when you don't seek their approval people get uppity. I live my life making it abundantly clear that you don't care what anyone thinks, which admittedly hasn't done me a lot of favors in terms of maintaining relationships, especially with people like co-workers. If your goal is to maintain these relationships, my advice would be to at least pretend to care and be polite when they say you're too thin, stay positive, and keep doing what makes you happy. In the end it's not going to change your behavior, but I think it's important to keep from lashing out, so I don't know that your current approach is a bad one.

3623 · March 07, 2012 at 04:18 PM

I take it you don't want the attention that goes with "Oh, Ed's plate is different, he's on a DIET."

If anyone starts that with me, I say "Everyone is on a diet. We just chose between good ones and bad ones." but, that still attracts attention.

I think you need to stop letting the pressure keep you from being open about good choices. It's not your fault food is screwed up and it's hurting people, and that you know this. Do the right thing. :$

19504 · March 07, 2012 at 04:14 PM

I get a lot of comments like: That is all you are going to eat ... I eat plenty. There is no need to tell folks you are Paleo. There is not a lot of understanding out there...

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