Since going Paleo and experiencing huge turnarounds in my health and appearance, many of my friends have come to me asking for tips on how they can get healthy too. Most of them are very receptive, and some of them have joined me and are experiencing their own health renaissances (hooray!). However, it doesn't always go well.
It happened to me twice in the past week, with the second one being a recently diagnosed Type II diabetic. When I told him the steps to Paleo (making sure to let him know he can ease into it), he came back with 'I can't do that; it's too hard; I love pizza and ice cream; anyway I don't like to cook.'
Ok, so obviously, much like my alcoholic friend in my prior post, he doesn't really want to change. My question is, when you're confronted with this kind of thing, and you genuinely care about the other person, do you find it difficult not to lecture them out of sheer frustration? Do you just bite your tongue and walk away?
Personally, I would take an entirely different tact at helping my friend. I just had someone ask me about Paleo this week and started with "What can't I eat?" and I told her it's not about what you can't eat, but all the awesome stuff that you CAN eat. That doesn't sound like it would work with this particular friend of yours, but in the future, make sure you are focusing on the positive aspects of Paleo eating when telling people about it.
With this friend of yours, let's not go "Paleo", but try and help him control his diabetes with nutrition instead of meds. So, he likes ice cream and pizza? That's why an 80 / 20 approach works. There are coconut milk ice creams and gluten free pizza crusts. I know these things are not OPTIMAL, but they are better for your friend than what he is currently putting in his body.
Rather than you make up an entire eating plan for him, which he won't follow after you put in the work, see if you can get him to track his food for ONE WEEK for you. Just one. His new babies should be worth that effort. Depending on how much you care about this person, he could also just text you his food and you could keep the log. Remember, it's just one week and this person is your friend, right?
So once you get the food logs for a week, make suggested tweaks to his meals. Don't tell him, he's doing it wrong, but be supportive. Even if you can improve his diet just a little, it's likely you've helped him. If he's smart, he'll notice the difference and improve things from there on his own. If he's not really interested in doing anything except talking about being healthier, you've wasted some time, but not alienated your friend.
I don't keep my mouth shut, I just try to meet them in the middle. People are going to be a lot more adverse to giving up something that they like as opposed to putting in a little extra effort for a positive benefit. I usually say that they should supplement with vitamin d, magnesium, and vitamin k2, which is pretty cheap all together, and they will feel healthier. And people have, and they said that "yeah, you were right, these things are great!" and then they want to know more. The door has been opened.
It is easy to forget sometimes that some people have no idea how healthy they could be, or how unhealthy they will be, and that will make them resistant to big changes that they don't know will benefit them. I partially blame the USDA food pyramid for being so ineffective at steering people towards good health. I tried that crap once and all I got was hungry and irritable.
I like Robb Wolf and Whole30 for saying "give it a month and if you don't like what you see then you don't have to do it", that sort of comprehensive health turnaround is going to make more of an impact than some vague advice to reduce consumption of junk food.
I've learned over the years that when people really want to change, they will seek me out for advice. Our culture is very encouraging of the attitude you described your friend having, and I see this all the time. I've had people come to me as clients, saying they don't want to die young, they want to feel good, and then basically give up before they even give it a go at all. I don't relate to this personally...when I have a health issue, I experiment on myself until I feel better...I am willing to try a lot of things and make a lot of changes...I used to think this was because I suffer from migraines, and that not suffering from migraines is very motivating...but, it's more than that. I've had clients with, imo, way more debilitating issues than mine, but still make every excuse to stay right in the unhealthy life that they live. It's comfortable in that dysfunctional familiar way, and change takes a lot of energy and presence...have compassion for friends who aren't really ready for change, and hopefully, one day, they will come to you truly ready to do the work.
As the others have said, you can't change a person that doesn't want to change. Any extensive attempts to try will most likely destroy your friendship and cause high mental stress for you. Lay it out like it is, and leave it at that. Until he values his health more than he values his pizza, he won't change.
Sad fact is many people are brainwashed. Its tough to get through to them. There are usually two methods....one is the 30 day challenge type....the other is baby steps, where you add before you take away. In the second step you may say just add walking for a couple of weeks. Then just add some fresh vegetables to every meal...and so on and so forth till you displace all their most of their worst habits (like wheat, sugar). I feel like the better someone feels the more motivated they become. Its like a snowball effect of health.
Saying "it's too hard" really means "it's not fun." People have come to associate exercise with slogging away on the treadmill like a hamster on a wheel. Instinctively, pushing ourselves to our limits is fun.. remember saying "wanna race?" to your friends back in the day. Your friend needs to get back to the point where it is fun.. this could be anything from passing a frisbee to a dog, to swimming, to joining a crossfit class. Find something that is fun for him, and the enjoyment and competitiveness that we all have inside ourselves will come out.
I think the other thing you have to consider is your friend's fear of failure. How many of us who have/had weight problems have seen other people lose weight on all kinds of different (often unhealthy) diet plans, but when we tried them we failed to get the same results? If he has a history failed diet attempts, it might be even harder for him to be willing to try something you have been so successful with because he's afraid it won't actually work for him.
There is a new diet plan every day and nearly all of them work--at least temporarily--for some people. We all know paleo/primal is the real deal, but it's not surprising someone who has tried several bad diets would be skeptical.
What he is saying is "I could never give up pizza" and that could be what he means, but he might also mean "I don't want to fail again--especially when someone else I know has succeeded".
Keep it about yourself, so they don't feel like you're lecturing them. "Yeah, it was hard giving up XYZ. I missed it a lot, and fell off the wagon several times, but once I managed to stick to it, I felt so much better that it just doesn't appeal to me now."
Also, if it's something like bread or pasta that they use in a lot of recipes: "It is inconvenient sometimes, but once I found some good recipes and learned to cook without that, I discovered that I wasn't missing much."
If your friend has one or two items that "can't" be given up, maybe a step-by-step approach would work better. He won't see awesome results right away, but it might get him on the right path. See if your friend will agree to cut down on his vices, say, have one vice every couple weeks instead of having it all the time.
I've told people about how I eat and they are completely disinterested...but I will send them a link or two and let them do their own research. A lot of times when they read about it, it sinks in a little more. It's no longer just me telling them my opinion. They see that others are also seeing huge changes. Sometimes people need more than "n=1" to convince them. 8)
Besides that, as others have commented, it's up to your friend to make those decisions. If he asks and then still rejects your suggestions, that is on him. He has the knowledge now and has to choose whether or not to use it.