How to Talk to Your Family and Friends About Your Gluten-free Lifestyle
Eating a clean, healthy gluten-free diet is a way of life. Whether you have a gluten allergy, sensitivity, or eating gluten-free just makes you feel better, you should let your family and friends know about your new lifestyle. And by lifestyle, we mean your wholehearted quest for true wellness and happiness! Help those who care about you understand and support you. Easier said than done right? Don’t worry we are here to help!
Food for Health
The idea that you’re taking control of your health and well-being through FOOD can be really hard for many people to comprehend. In our personal experience, we definitely encountered doubt and even mockery from some family members. For many people (and particularly one demographic that we won’t mention because it’s unfair to generalize) the idea of food as medicine is just outlandish. Most people’s instinctive reaction to something new that they don’t understand is to poke fun at it, so it’s good to expect at least some of it.
This can be very frustrating and even hurtful. But it’s okay! It’s a part of the journey to find your true health and happiness! We found it is best to be compassionate and try to understand where those people are coming from. Never get defensive, stay compassionate and understanding – that’s what “disarms” those pesky family members and creates a connection. Once they feel connected, they will listen and be more open to understanding you.
It makes sense that some people don’t understand why you are going gluten-free. If you never experienced the power of FOOD to help you feel better then, of course, you’d be doubtful. The most common reaction to change is to diminish it, make fun of it and thus lessen its perceived threat. Threat sounds like a strong word but in essence, that is every person’s first instinctive reaction to something new.
How to Deal with Naysayers
Lacy and I try to approach any doubters and negative comments with this calm and compassionate inner mindset: “I understand, you don’t yet know how much better you can feel by eating healthy. It’s okay, I’m not mad and don’t judge you because I understand where you’re coming from.”
When they’re ready to listen to you, don’t be afraid to answer as openly as you can. As we mentioned, never get defensive if there is doubt or unease; it’s not personal. Always remember, that new lifestyles are hard to comprehend for most people and it is human nature to react this way. When they understand that this is better for your health, the badgering of questions will subside and support will arise!
It’s important to remember that you can’t really change a person’s opinion, at least not right away. The best thing you can do is lead by example and talk about your own personal experience. Nobody can argue with what your own experience is, only you know that. We have found that it’s generally better received to talk about the positive aspects of healthy eating. Rather than saying: “gluten causes ISSUES for PEOPLE,” say: “gluten-free makes ME feel BETTER.” Do you see what we did there? It’s essentially the same thing, but you talk about your OWN experience and you focus on the POSITIVE.
Listen to Your Body
One interesting personal experience that I wanted to share with you, was when most of my family members claimed that it made no sense that gluten would be an issue. They said, “Everybody’s been eating bread and pasta for generations and everybody’s fine. We eat gluten foods every day and we’re totally fine.”
I know my family’s lifestyle, so upon hearing this, I was flabbergasted by the notion that they were all totally fine. The thing is, they all constantly complain about aches and pains of various kinds. Everybody takes different types of medications for all sorts of issues. My parents had to give up their passion for skiing because of knee and mobility issues in their late 50s.
The point is, everybody may be doing fine, but it’s obvious that nobody is thriving. Nobody jumps out of bed at the break of dawn with me ready to do yoga and go running. During family gatherings, everybody wants to take a nap after lunch, rather than take a family hike with me. Most people are used to this and think it’s normal. They think the lack of energy and aches and pains are normal. Many people have forgotten what it’s like to truly feel good. The point is, people will try to defend their lifestyle choices, even when they don’t serve them.
It’s definitely going to be helpful to have the support of your friends and family, so it’s important to help them understand. They love and care for you, so despite some initial doubts, they do want the best for you. Help them understand that taking control of your health is important to you. It may take a little bit of time, but when they see you happy, they will eventually come around and support you.
Being a Wellness Adventurer
Remember, you’re a pioneer, a maverick, a visionary happy camper on a quest to achieve the most authentic, healthiest and best version of yourself! It makes sense that you might face some opposition on such a grand enterprise. Our job is to meet people where they are on their journey to health and happiness to inspire others along the way. Most people haven’t intentionally begun that journey yet, so of course, they might have doubts when speaking with you, a pioneering wellness adventurer.
It makes me think of Bilbo Baggins leaving the Shire. The Hobbits thought he was pretty crazy for leaving the comfortable, old ways behind. But he wanted more from life; he wanted adventure, he wanted to see what was beyond those familiar horizons, and he wanted to discover what journey life truly held for him. In the end, what a rich life he had; talk about living life to one’s fullest potential.
Finding Support Online
You might also consider joining a gluten-free community. There are plenty of forums and online groups sharing recipes and product reviews from people who have already gone through this process. They can tell you about the best gluten-free breads, baked goods, restaurants that have a gluten-free menu, and more. Sharing your struggles and questions with people who have already gone through this will help you tremendously. You don’t have to go through this alone. Having a community behind you is helpful with transitioning to this new life and can be less overwhelming.
Use every opportunity that you have at your fingertips to live the healthy gluten-free lifestyle you want. Enjoy every opportunity you can to share it with family and friends. Embrace the challenges and reach out for help when you need it. The support is there, and we’re all in this together. Embrace all the amazing things your life can be on this incredible journey to true wellness and happiness and, as always, thank you for letting us be a small part of it!
- “Dealing With Relatives When You’re Gluten-Free” https://www.verywellhealth.com/dealing-with-friends-and-relatives-562425