A lot of my friends are morbidly obese (this tends to happen when you're in the IT/technology world), and while I feel Paleo may not be the solution for all of people's health problems, I know a couple of friends who could really benefit from a Paleo lifestyle. I see them struggle with the low fat revolution and nothing happens. Most of them try Weight Watchers and while Weight Watchers' motto is sort of a twisted version of "you can eat whatever you want, and either starve yourself the rest of the day or just have a bite" it seems to push them toward overeating the SAD foods anyway.
Part of me wants to barge into their house, throw out all of the junk, take them shopping and show them how to cook a good meal. Part of me wants to scream at them about how they are ruining their life by not actually living it to the fullest - to me, it makes no sense. Why would you want to even exist if you can't enjoy yourself by running around with your kids, biking, moving freely? Is food really that important that you feel like your quality of life is going to be jeopardized if you give up something as dumb as bread?
And the last part of me tells myself that it's not really my business and this is what they are choosing for themselves, so I should just keep my mouth shut, and that's the best way to be a friend.
Has anyone else struggled with this? Parents? Friends? Children? Are there any actual success stories or ways to gently inform people about the Paleo lifestyle without being obnoxious about it?
Thanks for listening.
The instinct to want to protect our family or "tribe" is natural and important. Finding effective ways to communicate this can be challenging, however.
Remember when our parents would tell us not to do something they knew would harm us, yet we did it anyway and found out the hard way? I've been thinking a lot about similar things lately and this is what it reminds me of. More often than not, what bugged me the most as a kid was asking why and constantly hearing "because I told you so" or "because I'm the parent". Okay then. Don't bother taking the time to explain WHY I shouldn't touch the burner on the stove, just tell me not to and assert your authority. Then see what I do.
(No offense Mom and Dad!)
In my experience, people don't respond well when others attempt to "assert authority" over them. They may be parents and children, marital partners, or even supervisors and employees, but it is how you communicate something that is key. When it comes to sharing Paleo with people, I don't think we can expect to get many warm receptions with a "just because" type of approach. I doubt hardly any of us came to Paleo this way, either.
I like how you asked "Is food really that important that you feel like your quality of life is going to be jeopardized if you give up something as dumb as bread?"
This seemed like a no-brainer to me when I gave up bread. It was also just the newfound curiosity to find out what that might be like since I had ALWAYS eaten bread my whole life.
I agree with many others who have responded, though. It is usually best if we come to these critical decisions on our own. However, that's not to say we can't share positive experiences and helpful information with the people we care about. For me, it would almost be irresponsible or even negligent not to do so.
Be patient. In the beginning it's tempting to grab a megaphone and shout from the rooftops, but don't underestimate the value of preparation. I say avoid pushing, live the example, and casually share information (and perhaps good Paleo food!) when the opportunity presents itself.
Here's my personal plan:
I tend to stay off the digital radar more than most folks in my circles of family and friends (no Facebook or any other "social media" for me), so I've been working up to possibly sending out an email to everyone after six months Paleo as my own kind of "status update" in which I'm simply going to share my experience. I'll mention that I'd be happy to talk to anyone who might be interested in learning more details about what I've been doing, and from that point I may drop a link to an article or three every once in awhile to that same little "email list" of folks who I really care about. I've been documenting my progress and bookmarking links like a mad man, so by then I hope to be well-prepared.
I'm not expecting anyone to change their views or lifestyle overnight. I know I didn't. A little bone here, eggs and bacon there, a thick juicy grass-fed steak and some Pubmed articles wrapped in love, though, and that may just be all it takes for a few folks on my list. Others may require more data and/or butter, while some might just be resolved to the SAD indefinitely.
I'm not out to "convince" anybody, but I'll gladly share my experience.
I don't think "tactfully" and "push" belong in the same sentence. If they are interested, they will ask. Otherwise, let them make their own food choices. We each have our own journey.
As others have said... Live the example. When I was 500 lbs, I just wasn't ready, but I became ready, found low carb, then paleo... Now that I'm 156 lbs down, people notice, they ask, I tell them, its their choice, and you will be there when they are ready.
When the student is ready,the master appears. Be the example, and others will appear.
When someone is huge, there may be issues with eating disorders. I would suggest looking into overeaters anonymous. Them, with paleo, had kept me on track.
My early enthusiastic proselytizing totally pissed off a bunch of my friends. The urge to convert by force wore off quickly (thanks in part to the repeated frosty receptions). I found it was better to show by example and wait til they got curious...and eventually plenty of them did. Like Harlow, I now have a circle of success stories -- and they're the ones that came to me. The ones I got aggressive with still won't talk about food with me, period.
It will take more time than you want; months and months. But a few more months after a lifetime of SAD isn't going to kill them (hopefully). I know it feels desperately urgent, but it honestly will be better if they don't feel badgered and attacked, and rather can feel like it was their idea and thus their own native wisdom that led them to ask.
I feel this exact way about my parents. All they want to do is eat bagels, take statins, and complain about how they can't lose any weight. It drives me insane. I've come to the conclusion that my efforts to help only end up driving a wedge between us. I need to just keep living my life the best I can and let them live their life. If they ever come to me and want to know more, I'll do what I can. Until then though, I feel I need to let go of the feeling that I have the answers and need to fix others who don't want my help. I know this isn't to say your friends don't want your help, just my thoughts on the subject.
I led by example. I didn't nag about going paleo, but I made if very well known to people why my body was changing for the good and why my perception of life had changed. I eventually got my sister on bored and just tried to be supportive. I feel your frustrations though. I think it's really silly to let eating control your life. I had a slight advantage because I had been a vegetarian for about 2 months and went vegan for a month and felt like death, and my friends and family watch me go through it. Just be suggestive, but not intrusive.
Do you respond well to tactful pushing? I don't.
When people I know, even loved ones, try to use tactful pushing on me they are surprised to find I do in fact have a feisty side. I will not be managed.
If I ask, you are free to share your experience and your hypotheses--how often do we really KNOW anything?
If I compliment you, you can at least say "Thanks, __ is really agreeing with me."
Did you give paleo a try because someone else thought you should? I didn't.
Maybe I'm just stubborn. Could be.
I agree with the previous post. I don't think you can tactfully push someone. Sorry this doesn't answer your question, but it's true. You can tell people how great you feel and about the results (weight loss, strength, cured ailments, etc) and then answer questions when they ask. But doing more than this isn't productive.
One not-too-pushy way I'm trying to convert others is to "like" Paleo stuff on my FB, or link to certain articles, etc. Those who are interested will read, and if they want to know more, they'll ask me.
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