My friend Heidi wrote me an e-mail today to tell me of her recent trip to visit her family. Here’s what she shared:
“It’d be really cool if my family were on the same page with me on dietary philosophy – when I visited back in August, I told my mom and sister what I was eating and doing and had a few confrontations with them because they completely ignored what I told them – second day I was there – Mom made spaghetti w/ meatballs, using regular pasta, lots of frozen processed meals, et cetera, sister took me out to eat at a pizza place in downtown Houston, and the list goes on – I ended up eating a crab cake & fresh fruit while I watched her noshing on her pizza… and they both fussed at me for choosing to eat a larger salad or veggies with my meat instead of eating the pasta or rice or potatoes they were serving with meals.
‘THAT’s your problem! That salad is HUGE. You just need to eat small portions.’ ‘Aren’t avocados loaded with fat?!!’
Eff that – I was craving greens so I made myself a nice salad with arugula, fresh herbs, cukes, bell pepper, onion, and avocado, and used minced garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil to season. I ate the salad with each meal since they were cooking with pasta and rice and sugar and processed foods.”
In spite of knowing that Heidi was diagnosed by her doc as pre-diabetic and is currently on prescribed medication for it, her family ignored her fresh preferences for a healthier lifestyle, even telling her that really the only thing she needed to do was eat smaller portions. They went on to imply that the size of her salad was likely the root of her problems. And avocados! They’re full of fat! She must be asking for it, right?
What Heidi’s dealing with is NOT rare. Often family and friends are so resistant to change that they criticize you when you make moves toward a healthier lifestyle. It’s as if it’s personal –“Well, if you want to be different, then you’re criticizing my choices, and I can’t stand that!” This of course applies to change of any kind, whether it’s emotional, physical, and even spiritual, though here the issue is Heidi’s health. This means that, like most people, Heidi’s family would rather dismiss her new lifestyle than be excited about her making choices that will greatly increase her lifespan, her energy, her resistance to all disease, and her ability to simply move through life with ease.
Of course it’s a little more complex than simple resistance to change. Ignorance is also at the root of most resistance, and individuals have to choose to learn, choose to be aware and awake, and choose to make an effort. We also live in a society that gives us a truckload of misinformation on a daily basis. Avocados have saturated fat in them, sure, but saturated fat is good for you.
Here’s a tidbit from the California Avocado Commission:
Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit.
It’s difficult to blame the average consumer when our grocery store shelves are loaded with foods that will literally kill us if we consume them long enough. How can we blame Americans (and the rest of the world that lets in our influence) for being so fat? For eating more and more food with a nutritional void and becoming bigger and bigger while they become more malnourished? It is our very own government that trembled with joy at the idea of cheap replacement fats like Crisco, margarine, and corn oils because it is them who ultimately profited from their subsidization. The people who produce these “foods” become richer while Americans pay the price in higher taxes and human lives.
Check out this short video clip I found on Sarah Wilson’s blog from the documentary “Fat Head” for a super-quick synopsis of why saturated fat and cholesterol became vilified in the United States:
Heidi has lost thirty pounds since she was diagnosed as pre-diabetic in April. She added exercise to her healthier diet, and her happy doctor says that her blood sugar levels are normal again and she’s on her way to getting off the meds.
So. What are you to do when you decide you want to make a little change but are worried some of your family or friends might make it difficult for you? You find support elsewhere. Talk to your healthier, fitter friends. It’s scientifically proven that you become who you hang out with, physically and emotionally. Ask them to help encourage you, even if it’s just by saying to them, “Man, I really envy your glow (or your toned arms/legs/abs)! How do you do it?” You can tell them you’re trying to avoid certain temptations and seek out new healthier ones, and to please help you resist when they’re around you. Subscribe to blogs that have great content about healthy food, and make a point to read them several days a week. Find a health coach who can guide you and hold you accountable for your choices. Most importantly, know thyself. Figure out what drives you, whether it’s looking hotter for your next class reunion, being able to fit into your high school jeans, becoming healthy enough to get pregnant, running farther, climbing higher, feeling happier, or not following in your family’s footsteps.
Here are a couple of my favorite blogs for healthy food-motivation: