Well, “Haters” might be a bit strong, but do I have your attention? Then BINGO! Let’s go!
This week I wanted to visit a subject that comes up A LOT for those of us trying to eat healthy all year long. Whether you’re trying to clean up your eating for weight loss, or just trying to live a good life eating clean, there might be a time where your healthy habits come into question.
Food is personal; it goes into your body and converts to energy. That’s more personal than it gets! Hence, we may get a tad bit defensive when people start asking questions or when they appear to be uncomfortable with your choices. This can come from their own personal issues.
Let’s dive in.
When Healthy Eating is Considered Unusual
Picture this scene: My mother calls and says “I’d like to have you over for dinner. When can you eat like a normal person again?”
Has this happened to you? Because it has to me.
Sorry, Mom. For the good of the readers, I am whipping this out as an example. Now, granted, I am on a food plan for my training. I am currently in off season for women’s bodybuilding. Calories are up, but I still eat clean. I have wiggle room on Sunday evenings. On the days I don’t, I stick to the plan, because the plan works and is geared towards my goals.
Usually when I go somewhere or have dinner with a friends, I can get my hands on lean protein, green veggies and a complex carb (think whole grains or sweet potatoes) and make do. Anyhow, back to my mom’s question:
Mom: “When can you eat like a normal person?”
Teri: “What is normal to you?”
Mom: “Well, where you don’t have to care about what you are eating. Maybe order a pizza, or I’ll cook and make a dessert.”
Can you see where I might get a little defensive? Why would I feel this way?
It’s the word “normal.” It’s as if my eating style is odd or unusual. Granted, I am the black sheep in the family. I can live with that. I believe the bigger issue is that I want to immediately go into educator and defensive mode and discuss how eating like you don’t care is actually not that normal.
I’ll be honest, if I could pack away a donut from our local legendary bakery, Bloedow’s (they ran Krispy Kreme out of town. That’s a fact!) along with a cappuccino and a couple of slices of pizza a day, I would. I lived that way, and guess what? It didn’t work. That’s how I packed on the weight and reached 209 pounds in 2010. There were also a ton of late night Taco Bell dinners.
Let me clue you in, ordering from the healthy menu isn’t healthy when you eat a bunch of it. I wasn’t caring, I just ate what I wanted to.
How to Respond to Healthy Food Haters
Comment #1: I’d like to have you over for dinner. When can you eat like a normal person again?
You could answer this way: “I would love to visit over dinner. I am really focusing on my health right now. Would it be okay to contribute a dish of my own?”
Why this answer: It lets them know your goals and you are showing respect by offering to bring something.
Here is another possible answer: “Visiting sounds great! How about we get together over coffee and maybe a board game?”
Why this answer: You are taking the focus away from the main event, in this case, the dinner. You are switching the focus to the conversation instead.
Comment # 2: Why are you on a diet? You look fine to me!
That’s a pretty personal question and assumption, isn’t it? This can come out of a place of jealousy. As in, the person asking this may wish to have the same focus, drive, and results as you. They may feel insecure about their own eating habits if you’re on a good path.
How to answer: “Thanks for saying so! I just know where I feel comfortable at and I am trying to get there. I really appreciate your support of my healthy habits.”
You have just turned the conversation around. Who would not want to support that? If they don’t, you and I both know it’s not going to look favorable on them. Just sayin’.
Comment # 3: So, when are you through with your diet?
Some people don’t get it. Even after the diet phase, many of us choose to go into maintenance calories, but still eat the same healthy foods. There is nothing wrong with this. This is how we keep healthy habits for life. Consistency.
How to answer: “Oh, I plan to eat healthy for life. Everything in moderation, but I find eating clean helps me feel the best and keeps me on track for long-term health.”
You can even add “I still eat (insert favorite food); but it’s an occasional treat.”
Comment #4: I made (fill in the blank). It’s healthy, so you should be able to eat it!
Sigh. Now you fear that you’ll look unappreciative for turning it down. You have three choices here:
1. You can reply with “That looks amazing! Could I take some home for me for later?”
2. You could also state that you truly appreciate the gesture, but are not hungry at the moment.
3. If it’s pretty close to meeting your nutritional goals, you could have a little bite and take some home for later consumption.
What You Shouldn’t Do When Approached With These Questions:
- Avoid going into defensive mode. Feelings just get hurt.
- Give detailed answers. Keep your answers simple. Don’t feel like you have to give them the entire story behind your decisions. If they want more information, they will ask. Otherwise, you may end up annoying people, and they may become more resentful of your choices.
- Ridicule the person who asks these questions about their own way of eating. If someone wants advice, they will ask.
If You’re on the Asking End
Finally, just a side note for those of you on the “asking” end. If you have a friend or family member who’s currently on a health journey, I beg you to be considerate, patient, and respectful. There is a right way and a wrong way of asking questions.
Put yourself in their shoes. It’s hard enough to stick with a healthy eating protocol during holidays, get togethers, events, work meetings (always coffee and donuts) and other functions. Food is such a prevalent thing in our society. It’s how we express love a lot of the time. If you’re curious, ask how they are doing. Keep an open mind that what works for you doesn’t work for everyone. Be encouraging. Think before you open your mouth – pun intended!
I would love to know your thoughts! Please comment below, or feel free to comment below.
Teri Market is a Certified Personal Trainer, Women’s Physique Competitor, and Powerlifter that holds a Diploma in Nutrition. She also is the Social Media Manager and a Content Creator for Miracle Noodle. Teri can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest at @fcpchick.