Tarilee’s Top Ten Social Tips for Thriving on a Therapeutic Diet
Almost every culture in the world connects around food, especially during the Holidays. The experience of eating differently amidst the expectations, curiosity and confusion of those around you will almost certainly challenge your social graces at some point. But with a little preparation, you can reduce any related stress and thus preserve your success on your program.
Given how hard you've worked to create positive change in your health, it can come as a surprise that your friends and family might be less enthusiastic than you had hoped about your changes. A little patience with their reactions can go a long way. For those who like to lovingly prepare your favorite foods or those who enjoy your company over the experience of a mutually favorite meal, your new foods will represent significant change for them as well.
This top ten list is designed to help you stay the course with the food choices that make sense for you by providing strategies and reflections that can help you share your changes with others in a confident, graceful way, regardless of their initial reactions.
As you become more comfortable with your new ways of socializing around food, you'll soon realize that while you're taking care of yourself, you can also take heart in the way that your changes can help others. More importantly, you can find some fun in laughter about the bumps along the way.
1-Be succinct and wellness-focused (not illness-focused.)
When talking about food, you will be received most positively when you positively describe your candida diet (or food therapy program.) People would rather hear how much better you've been feeling because of your new food choices rather than what you 'have to' eat or what you 'can't eat.' For example, "Since I gave up sugar I've had so much more energy and clarity and I've lost five pounds!" This will go over better than a sermon about the dangers of sugar. However, if they are truly interested (more on this below), you can offer up an inspiring comment such as, "When I found out that a teaspoon of sugar suppresses my immune system by 50% for five hours, I decided to give it up."
2-Provide information only when asked.
'Too much information' can be experienced by others as boring, judgmental (of their habits) or as pressure to change. Therefore, on the subject of food and health, as passionate as you may be, it's important to offer information about what you've discovered only when asked. Be aware of the "Born again Nutritionist Syndrome," and be alert to the attention span of your listener. They may not be as interested in what you're discovering about food as you are. Let them show you they are still interested by allowing them to ask more questions. And you can ask them questions too- about what they think and about any experimentation they may have done around eating.
3-Your own approval is what's most important.
Remember that new information about food that is radically different from another person's habits can be received with skepticism no matter how well informed or enthusiastic you are. To prevent unsolicited advice or judgment that may shake your trust in your own self care- again, remember to keep the sharing brief and also frame it from a 'what I've learned' perspective rather than as 'The Truth.'
Your own careful research; consultation with practitioners you trust; and experimentation will be your best guides along your path to health improvement. Though many will share their idea of 'The Way', their opinions will be more relevant to their unique needs than yours. Understanding your own health care needs requires learning, experimentation and self-observation, which leads in the direction of self-knowledge. To regain our health we must deepen our resolve to honor what we know about the food choices vitalize us.
4-Only temptation is irresistible.
(LaoTzu.) Though you may have healthy resolve, bringing along a delicious dish you can enjoy sharing with others can make an event much more enjoyable for you while reducing your temptation to bend your food plans. Another trick is to eat a little something at home before you go so that light nibbles, (if there are limited healthy foods for you there), will sustain you and you'll be lest tempted to fill up on other things.
As for will power at home, there may be some foods that your family enjoys having in the house that 'unhinge' you and thus risk your success. If this is the case, consider the benefit of 'trading' mutual, temporary 'renunciations.' If a family member balks at your initial request to keep a certain food out of the house for a time, you might offer to give up something in return. Ideally, one way or another, you can arrange for their cooperation at least for the early, impressionable stage of your program. For example, maybe your teenage son who feels he must have a freezer full of ice cream would give that up for a time in support of your program. If not, maybe he'd be open to this if you offered to give up your indulgence in loud, Sunday morning classical music. A mutual arrangement that works for everyone is usually possible.
5-Your kitchen, your own healthy food.
You can choose to socialize at your own home rather than face the challenges of going out. Consider inviting a small group of people over for a meal that you prepare completely yourself. Alternately, you can name it a potluck and prepare as many dishes as you like to broaden the healthy options.
If you do choose to go to a friend’s home, you can tell your host that you love to cook and that you'd enjoy bringing something to share. This is likely to be appreciated and then you can be sure to have at least one dish that works for you.
6-Dinner Parties- Help your host treat you to food that works for you.
When invited out, try to remember that your host wants you to enjoy yourself. You can mention that you're on a food therapy program right now that makes for very specific food choices and that you often bring some food to share when you go out. However, if they would rather prepare something specific that will work for you, concise clarity is important. You could offer simple suggestions that will be compatible with their planned meal. For example, maybe they are planning a deep fried chicken meal, you could ask for plain, grilled meat. It's important to be exquisitely respectful and precise when describing simple seasoning ideas (like olive oil and lemon juice), perhaps simply adding, "no sweets, yeast, vinegar or additives."
7-If you're not looking your best...
Similar to the way being pregnant solicits advice from everyone, being unwell also solicits advice from well meaning friends and family. If you've lost weight or are in a low point in your recovery, loved ones may claim that your unusual diet must be the culprit. If you're not feeling your best because of a detoxification phase, you can briefly explain the ‘feeling worse before feeling better’ concept. Or if your diet is helping you feel better, your exclamations about how much better you're feeling and how hopeful you are about continued improvement may reassure. Also, calling it a food therapy program rather than 'a diet' will help, especially if you're trying to gain weight.
8-Understand food judgment.
Remember that in an indulgent, developed society that values food mostly by taste alone, alternative diet principles may be judged as restrictive and be subject to criticism. Some people will even criticize you if they know your choices are wise. This type of pressure may come from their own feelings of guilt about not being more discerning with their own habits. It may come from fear related to past experience with eating disorders. If you're clear that you are eating an enjoyable, nutritionally-diverse diet that fits your ethics and helps your health, then stay your course. Strive to remain humble and enjoy quiet confidence in trying to set a good example.
9-Be an inspiration.
Your new resolve may be inspiring to others, even if at first they are unreceptive to the idea of giving up some of their favorite foods. You are potentially helping others just by caring enough to do what you're doing. Your demonstration of the strength it takes to make positive changes can be encouraging to others who want to improve their health or their connection to nutritious food.
Your friends and family may be surprised at your changes initially. They may feel awkward trying to relate to your food choices. Laughter almost always helps. As Whole Approach Forum members explain, “Sometimes just an 'out there' explanation like being on an, "Eye of Newt diet" or claiming that "sugar makes you melt" is all that's needed to maintain ease. :)
And finally, keep in mind that, if you're just adjusting to the initial stages of your diet, it's likely easier to stay home for a few weeks until you adjust to the changes yourself. Then you'll be coming from a stronger, more positive 'place' in case you do face some scrutiny. And, if you're on the right track, you're also likely to inspire more support since you'll have clear eyes and a glow in your complexion!
For further ideas on how to thrive in social settings, here is a link to a great thread on the Whole Approach forum where you can read the suggestions and successes of your fellow members:
For Recipe ideas, visit the WholeApproach Support Forum. Also available, the WholeApproach Recipes for Recovery - a collection of recipes from the WholeApproach Support Forum.