Whenever I go to family gatherings and social situations since taking control of my health on the SCD Diet, someone always approaches me in confidence or pulls me aside to ask me more about my diet and find out if I can help them with… (insert ailment here).
On the flip side, when I started the SCD Diet in 2009, the number one question that my friends and family asked me when I told them about the diet was, “Does your doctor know you’re doing this?” (Imagine it coupled with a stern look of concern.) As if I was making some rogue, vigilante, anti-establishment decision to martyr myself in the name of health. I still laugh thinking back about it. My how things have changed.
The best part, in my case, was that my doctor did in fact recommend the diet to me, but I was a rare instance. Most doctors are unaware of the diet connection to digestive health and might not support diet at all.
In any case, the Standard American Diet (SAD) has ingrained a strong tie to food as the foundation of most social gatherings with my family and friends. It led to some interesting situations that made me squirm when I was first starting the diet. Especially in the beginning, when I rapidly lost weight, I could feel people talking about me and my diet around the room with genuine concern for my well-being. Little did they know, I felt amazing and was having perfect poops day in and day out for the first time in my entire life!
The Fact Is: Most of Their Concern and Lack of Understanding Was Driven by Fear
People are generally afraid of what they don’t understand and the fact that I was doing a diet so different from what they are used to drudged up fear about something they didn’t know how to react to.
There are many misguided “norms” about the SAD that caused my friends and family to be afraid for me after I started the SCD Diet. Some of them are just outdated ideas that they expressed worry to me about, such as (these are somewhat exaggerated for demonstration):
- If you don’t have carbs from grains you will wither away from lack of energy
- The fat in the meat will kill you faster than you can get healthy
- The lack of fiber will stop you up until you explode
- If you don’t eat pasta or starches you will be hungry all the time and pass out
- Your bones will rot if you don’t drink milk everyday
On top of all of these fears, my family gatherings are surrounded by food that represents love. My SAD family gives love by creating bountiful meals for us and takes great pleasure in sharing their love in that way.
If I don’t eat their love, then I must not love them, right?
When I realized that some of my family members felt that way it blew me away. I never imagined that they would feel so shut out and disrespected just because I couldn’t eat the glazed ham, pasta salad, and pie they slaved over for Easter Dinner. I had taken away the only way they could love me, unintentionally.
So, what can you do about it?
Here’s 5 Ways I Helped My Family and Friends Understand My Diet:
1. I explained that I love them no matter what
I explained that if I were to “cheat” and eat the food they created I’d spend the next 4 hours in the bathroom… and it’s just not worth it anymore.
Once they connected the food to the pain I felt, they no longer felt offended that I couldn’t share in the meals they made for me. Instead, I made some suggestions and gave recipes of some SCD legal foods that I could eat (like a plain lemon chicken, or scrambled eggs).
Help your friends and family find other ways to love you… it will alleviate a lot of tension.
2. I always took time to share how great the diet made me feel
As they watched my health improve, they had less and less and to say… and they started asking more and more. The bottom line is: as I got healthier and healthier their fears started to turn into curiosity about what they might be doing to harm themselves.
Just keep showing them that you really are feeling better and they won’t have to worry so much.
3. I was always prepared
No matter what, I planned for success and always brought my own meal just in case I might need it. By being independent and strong, my friends and family respected me for handling the situation with poise and independence. Plus, by bringing my own food I never risked getting sick from something that I probably shouldn’t have been eating in the first place.
Set up the conditions for your success and always come prepared.
4. I took some time to get interested in how they are feeling
If it felt right, I gave a few pieces of advice on things that they can do to improve their health. I talked about about bacteria, digestion, and how grains/starches/sugars impacted my body. Knowledge is the number one combatant to fear, and it will raise their level of awareness about their own health.
If you run into the random stubborn Uncle, don’t waste your time, just smile and nod and remember that you can’t change everyone (then see tip #2).
5. I got over the social pull to fit in
The SAD will create a very strong pull to fit in at most family and friend events. I could take two paths, either I would sneak out and eat my meal in private so that I didn’t have to talk about it all (which is fine as I started to heal and build confidence)… or I could confidently eat my healthy life fuel right alongside everyone else and be proud of my decision to take control of my health. I used to eat in the car really quickly so no one would even notice until I started to heal. Over time I started eating my incredible SCD legal meals proudly in front of everyone and I would become the center of attention while everyone begged to learn more about how such healthy food can taste so good.
Do what feels comfortable… but don’t miss an opportunity to create your own gravitational pull at your next social event.
In the end, friends and family don’t understand the diet because they are afraid of what they don’t know. If you can calm their fears they will very quickly become curious and have a general interest in the amazing transformation you are undergoing. Be proud and don’t give into the social pull to deviate!
What has your experience with friends and family and the SCD Diet been like? Share in the comments section below…