One of the biggest challenges that may come when embarking on a new way of eating is the response you get from your family and friends. We would love to believe that everyone will just automatically be super excited for us, but sometimes that is not the case.
Don't try and push your healthy food on me.
Do you really think this is going to work? You've said that before.
Does that stuff even taste good?
If you've heard comments like these before, it can feel so defeating, even heartbreaking.
I remember, so vividly, when my mom and I first started changing the way we ate. This was over 20 years ago, and it was not as hip and cool back then to eat kale and snack on almonds and carrot sticks.
Even though society has come a long way, so many of us still encounter the doubts, hurtful comments, and even embarrassing remarks that may come from the people we love the most.
I am confronted with this question very often...
"Isabel, what do I do if my family doesn't want to eat healthy? What do I do if they just won't listen to me and they just want to eat whatever they want?"
When I first started my career as a nutritionist, my answer to this question was uncompassionate and downright wrong. I would often say to people, "Be sure to communicate to them the consequences of their actions and how harmful the foods they're eating are." But this never worked. Often, it just made others upset and made them run in the opposite direction.
I finally figured out how wrong I was after I became a Christian. Although the two things may not seem like they correlate, I have found that the only way to change the heart and mind of someone when it comes to health (or anything else for that matter) is to take the same exact approach we are to take when we share the Gospel with others.
1 Peter 3:15 says...
"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."
As a Christian, it is my life goal to always be bold for Christ. I want to always be prepared and ready to give the reason for my hope and always profess Christ as Lord. But what I am embarrassed to admit is that, in the past, I have done this without adhering to the words of 1 Peter 3:15... with gentleness and respect.
We know that we are to share the Good News in love. We are to do it free of judgement or condemnation. And we are to do it with gentleness and respect.
As much as sharing your newfound healthy way of eating will never carry the same importance as sharing the Gospel with someone, I do believe the same exact approach can work wonders to change the heart of your family members and friends.
1. Do not push your family members to make changes at the same rate as you are. We are all on our own journey with God, and your spouse's, kids', or parents' timing with healthy may not be exactly yours. If your family is on board with your changes, wonderful! If not, just know their timing may be a little different.
2. Model the behavior you would like to see. Show others how important this new way of eating is for you by your actions, and not by your words. Take the time to shop, to meal prep, to pay your lunches and after several weeks of witnessing those actions, those around you just may start to think, "Wow, I think she's (he's) on to something here." Even if they don't say those words out loud, I assure you, they are thinking it.
3. Pray for those in your life who need a shift in their health. My husband and I have always been on two very different timelines when it comes to our health. That often surprises people, but he's not quite the health nut I am. When we first got married, I thought lecturing him would make him change (new wife mistake), but now, when I see he's giving in to his sweet tooth very often, or making unhealthy choices, I don't say a word and instead commit to praying for him and his health every day. I can tell you, he has always come around on his own and gotten back on track without any of my lectures.
Patience, modeling, and prayer has been the best approach I have found to help those in our live who, we know, would greatly benefit from making some positive changes. Whether it's healthy eating, or something as impactful as giving their life to Christ, know that God loves these wonderful people even more than you do, and they are His children, and He wants the very best for them as well.
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