7 Ways to Share your Healthy Eating with Family and Friends

When it comes to healthy eating, do you lack support from your loved ones? Do you feel separate or isolated? If so, this blog post is for you.

If you’re like most health conscious people, it took years (or decades) before you had an epiphany that led you to change your diet.

Before that point, you weren’t ready. For example, you didn’t know all the reasons, didn’t feel compelled by those reasons, or couldn’t overcome your love for animal foods.

As you remember your own journey, have compassion for people who aren’t ready, or don’t feel compelled. Some of them may have an epiphany like you did… but it won't happen at precisely the same time.

With that said, her are tips to creating more harmony with your friends and family. These might compel some of them to join you, and at the very least, you'll feel more supported.

Be the example you want to see. When you preach, it makes others feel judged. So rather than preaching, let your loved ones see the benefits with their own eyes. Let them see how amazing you feel, how much energy you have, how much weight you’ve lost, etc.

Describe the reasons for your diet in first person tense. People are bound to ask why you eat differently. Tell them why in a non-judgmental way. For example, tell them how much better you feel. Or tell them how you were amazed to learn about the planetary impact of your former diet.

If compassion for animals is the main thing motivating you, then describe your reasons in the first person. For example, “I felt sad when I learned that chickens are crammed into tiny cages… And even worse when I learned that their beaks are chopped off. I didn’t want to keep supporting those practices.”

To demonstrate the importance of the first person tense, imagine someone disagreeing with you about abortion or the death penalty. How would you feel if they judged you, condemned you, or made you feel guilty? Now imagine the difference if they described their reasons in first person tense, saying: “For me, I’ve found that…. And it makes me sad when….”

Make it FUN. Meat eaters love food that tastes great, even when it’s meatless. So invite friends over to prepare healthy recipes that sound yummy. They might love helping you prepare a yummy lentil soup, gazpacho, or wild rice salad. However, avoid recipes that might disappoint them. For example, if they’re used to eating cheese pizza and deep fried falafels, they could be disappointed by vegan pizza or raw falafels. These recipes could confirm their negative perceptions about healthy eating.

Have a dinner party. Expose your friends and family to healthy meals that are YUMMY! Many people assume that healthy food is boring or lacks flavor. Create a space for exploration and show them how the process can be fun!

As an example, raw chef Heather Haxo Phillips used to bring a delicious kale salad to her parent’s house for Thanksgiving each year. They loved it so much, they invited her to bring more side dishes each year. Now they come to HER house for Thanksgiving. And except for the turkey (which they bring), everything else is raw and vegan.

Focus on what you ARE eating, not on what you’re omitting. Focus on the food you’re sharing rather than the food that separates you. Make sure there are some plates you’re all enjoying, even if they’re side dishes. When bringing a dish to someone else’s house, bring plenty of it. Then everyone else can try it too. If it’s delicious, it might change their negative perceptions of healthy food.

Ask for support. Rather than expecting your loved ones to help and support you, ask them to.  This open communication will lead to a dialogue about your experience, which may inspire them to be more open to your healthy lifestyle.

Connect with people on the same journey. If your loved ones aren’t on this health quest with you yet, get support from others. One great resource is www.meetup.com . Just type in your zip code and the kind of diet you eat (for example, “vegan” or “raw foods”). It will show you local support groups that have monthly gatherings, potlucks, or perhaps even guest speakers.

Remember, the key to having people join your healthy mission is by igniting their individual spark for health. We all have different reasons or situations that brought us to the point of transitioning to a healthier way of eating. Don’t focus on what separates you from your loved ones focus on what connects you. This will create a space for new ways of connecting, including sharing healthy food together.

Do you have other suggestions not mentioned here? If so, please post them in the Comments section below.

The tips above are a small excerpt of what you'll find in Lesson 21 of The Vegan Mastery Program. Here are the four topics it covers:

- How To Gracefully Overcome Social Challenges
- Disarming and Educating People Who Challenge You
- Tips For Getting Well Fed At Hotels and Restaurants
- How to Get Your Needs Met At Someone’s Home, Without Burdening The Host With Special Requests

It also includes a wonderful 1-hour Q&A on this topic, which you can download.

 

4 Comment(s)

  1. These are some great tips. I appreciate the info on dealing with sweet cravings. There are more and more people who are being diagnoses wit type diabetes. The problem there is that through diabetes management one has to minimize the fruit intake. Here is where avocados have rescued me. I can still have my green smoothies by eliminating bananas and adding a half an avocado. Then make adjustment in seasonings. 
    Thanks to all of you 

    Jane | Reply

  2. This is a big problem for me.  I want so badly for my sisters to find better health that I keep sending emails of sites I think will help them.  They are not ready and they are sick.  I keep telling myself to mind my own business, and I have stopped sending them, because I think, just as you say, they resent it. I resent it that they don't take better care of themselves and they think they do.  I get it. I really do.  When I visit, I don't understand how they can still eat the way they do, but I am the outsider and bring or make my own.  Last time I went to my older sister's, I offered to make a big salad and she said she already planned to make one, so I didn't want to offend her so I just said. OK, and offered to help. She didn't want any help. They ordered pepperoni pizza.  As she started to make the salad, I noticed she didn't wash the lettuce, which was a hard, bitter head of iceberg lettuce, shredded with nothing else on it and bottles of commercial dressings.  I'm sorry, but I don't call that a salad and couldn't eat it.  I made nothing of it and no one really noticed, but I didn't have anything to eat.  Next time, I will make and bring my own salad, anyway.  I lived through it and could again, but I don't care what they think, really.  I just have to realize that they are definitely not on the same page. I need to let them know that I will have to bring my own. Thanks for the article. It's a hard one.  

    LynnCS | Reply

  3. Wow! I really appreciate all of the wonderful advice given above! I always have dreaded the holidays with my non-veg family. I just never had any of the ideas that you posted above:( My biggest dread was seing the dead animal on the table and people's attitude about it (kinda hard to ignore the center-peice and people raving how delicious it is). I could get past the "I can't eat this and that" even if all I could eat is a plate of noodles and some fruit but, I guess I am just not the cook that my aunts and uncle are so I usually wind up looking like the tortured soul that I am without even trying. Now that I live far away from all of my family, I probably will not be able to use these tips – A shame:( I will pass this along to others though! Thanks!

    Nia | Reply

  4. These are great suggestions.  My husband and I try to really keep things positive with friends and family.  Often they will ask if we'd be offended if they ate something non-vegan in front of us.  We smile and say, "Of course not, but we sure appreciate your concern."  Then during the meal, we talk a little about some of the wonderful things we've made, and invite them to come over and try them for themselves. :-)

    mcooks | Reply

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