I'm sorry to admit it but I'm just some evil guy that likes to help people. I get in arguments all the time with people about what diet is the best, but almost always people say they feel fine, healthy, and energetic on their diet, which is anywhere from full of whole grains, soy, or full-on vegan.
How do you respond to that, to try to help them? I know some of you guys wouldn't have started paleo if you felt good on your previous diet.
I know quite a few people who seem to do fine on an industrial diet. They eat "healthy", including meat/veg/fruit and cookies/pizza/beer etc. Thin, active with parents in their 80's who do the same. I would probably eat that way too, if I could get away with it - but I can't.
At a party this weekend - my wife is a Lutheran Kindergarten teacher and this was the annual end-of-the-year BBQ for faculty/staff/school board - you can imagine how well the evolutionary perspective goes over on this crowd (which is the crowd for most of my social events) - three interesting things happened:
One of the school board members is paleo by crossfit (Wolff/Cordain) and asked me if I thought tapioca paper was paleo. I told him that I thought tapioca was considered a safe starch and would probably be fine. (I may have to double check that...)
Some of the women wanted to know what a gall bladder does and turned to me. My wife said "Don't you know better than to ask him questions?" But I was able to give them a short answer that hinted at the need for cholesterol, without getting preachy.
One of the teachers husbands who I've known for a long time said he had just been diagnosed with T2 diabetes. He's in the Army band and got diagnosed by a doctor at Walter Reed. They gave him no diabetes meds, but put him on a statin even though his cholesterol is not that high! He had a lot of questions about what normal blood sugar is, etc. (Don't these doctors tell their patients anything important?) He also said the diet they gave him recommends 60g of carbs per meal!!! Well, I spent quite a bit of time with him and strongly urged him to get Dr. Bernstein's book.
I guess my point is that you have to know when teachable moments arrive and seize the moment, and know when its a waste of time (don't throw pearls before swine). Not everybody is ready for paleo. Some people need paleo more than others. Most people will listen to one piece of information that seems reasonable, like omega6/3 ratios and inflammation or maybe the evilz of fructose/HFCS or transfats. The whole paleo thang can be overwhelming - and not everybody is ready for the evolutionary perspective (of course, switching to "ancestral" can help these people get past an emotionally loaded term),
The funny thing about arguing a point like that with someone who is happy with the way things are is that you are more likely to harden their original position. The best way to approach this is to point out that recent research suggests that whole grains may not be as good for you as was first thought and hope that maybe they'll go do their own research. [my 1st post/comment so go easy on me!]
I don't feel the need to "respond to them" because I don't assume that the way I eat is the one true path to health and everyone else that eats a dissimilar diet is either unhealthy or will be soon. Why not just take them at their word when they say they feel great? Not everyone responds to the same foods the same way, and it's not your problem what others eat, though I do understand the urge to cringe when I hear someone say their diet is full of healthy soy, or whatever. But unfortunately, it's just as irritating to argue to someone about how "you say you feel great but all that soy and grain is actually poisoning you!" as it is for us to hear about how all that red meat and animal fat is clogging our arteries and will kill us in short order, and anyway, people never change because of someone else's annoying preaching. No matter how unhealthy they are, if they don't want to change, you're fighting a losing battle.
Yup, like most of the other respondents so far, don't preach - it just puts people's shutters up (I know it does mine and at that point you won't get anywhere!)
If people ask how I've managed to lose 42lbs in under 5 months without increasing my exercise levels (only everyday walking and stairs) then I'll happily explain that I've cut grain products and reduced sugar intake, with a BRIEF explanation of why and give a couple of examples of what I no longer consume.
If they ask for more then I tend to point them in the direction of a couple of popular websites (Robb Wolf, EverydayPaleo etc.), but also mention that this 'diet' goes under different names and can be as strict or relaxed as you like as long as you try and follow the basic rules. If they want more later then obviously I'm still there for them.
Assess who the person is in relation to you- friend, parent, sibling, co-worker, child, boss, random person on the street, walmart greeter, mailman, etc
Determine, to the best of your ability, the willingness of this person to listen to a cogently and short-winded explanation of why 'their way' is bad and Paleo is grand.
If, after assessing with 1 and determining with 2, that the person may be willing to listen- procede with an explanation. (Note: this entails you thoroughly researching the topic (which you may already have done so) and truly "knowing your stuff". Have credible references, scientific articles/research, links if they ask or would like to know more, basically, be as scientific and supportive as possible. However, you can also appeal to the person's cognitive style .. depending on how they view the world ... this would need more explanation ...)
Let the information settle in. If they would like to counter with their diet's plea, I would advise just listening.
You did what you could. I want to help people too ... there is only so much you can do ...
Good luck. :)
I've shared paleo secrets with my sister and brother, both of whom have similar health problems, and they're not really interested. That's fine. I've also talked about it at length with a friend of mine with celiac disease, and she think it's extreme. Fine. I explained to a co-worker how paleo keeps my diabetes naturally under control and was told I'm "overthinking it." The greatest teachers - Buddha, Jesus, Ghandi, our ancestors - also taught by example, and you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.
I personally would rather not talk or argue about it, because then it puts me under the microscope, with people asking me why I am eating something if I allow myself a cheat meal or why I am not going to work out on a day I normally would, or what's in my grocery bag when I come home, leaving me standing in the hall with a cow tongue and heart getting warm explaining how they're actually pretty good, or why I don't want to go to Costco with them because I don't eat peanut butter, etc... Right now, I could be an example based on the weight I've lost, but I'd rather not pile the additional pressure on myself of being a spokeswoman.
You know what, they very well may be healthy and happy on such a diet. I was for >25 years.
While many people do find Paleo because of various intolerances or other problems, it's not the only reason to switch.
For me, having things shoved in my face unsolicited is the fastest way to make me not care about what you say, so I tend to assume that other people think that way until shown otherwise. I agree with the other replies; you can offer a brief tidbit of information (such as the research shedding new light on the health of whole grains) and let them look it up themselves. If the person comes to you for more advice after that, feel free to help them and share all the information on paleo you can, but only if they ask first.