How to deal with negativity towards your healthy choices
Sticking to healthy eating and getting plenty of exercise can be hard – we know it's not as easy as it seems! Yet we've all had that experience where we've been mocked by a friend for ordering a healthy salad on a girls night out or teased by family for drinking a protein shake instead of joining everyone for a full English breakfast.
We've all experienced negativity (whether intentional or not) towards our healthy choices, but the important thing to remember is that nobody makes decisions about your lifestyle but you. It can be even harder sticking to your guns when you feel unsupported, but we don't believe you should respond negatively when people criticise or comment on your healthy choices. These people are usually the closest to you and they probably have good intentions. Maybe they're just looking out for you and they are simply misinformed, or maybe they're a bit jealous of your amazing willpower and motivation; don't hold it against them. If you're getting negative comments, here's how to handle them, stick to your guns and applaud yourself for your super-healthy choices!
So, you're at a friend's BBQ and you're the only veggie there. We've been there, and it's tough! Luckily enough, they've catered for you and made you a delicious veggie burger, but there are sure to be at least a couple of people who will ask you how on earth you manage to live without bacon, or if giving up meat is really a healthy choice.
Take a deep breath, and rather than responding negatively, just say, “My veggie burger is amazing, you should try one!” Once people see you're confident in your choice to be vegetarian, and that it is not a topic open for debate, you're unlikely to get any further negative comments. Remember it's not your place to lecture other people about how healthy or unhealthy meat is – that's their own personal decision, and nobody wants to come across as preachy.
The Dinner Party
When you're at a dinner party with friends, some people (your host in particular) could take offence if you turn down fat and calorie laden foods in favour of healthier alternatives. If you only have a small portion of healthy options on your plate, that's when the comments might start. “Aren't you hungry?” “You haven't got any of this – here, have some more.”
The best way to deal with this is to head off negative comments in advance by making sure your host is aware of your eating habits. If they know you're vegan and don't eat anything with additives, hopefully they'll cater for you by providing a couple of dishes you will enjoy. If you're dining at the house of someone you don't know very well, and you do get negative comments, it's best just to smile and tell them you're on a health-kick and as a result you have a smaller appetite. Don't get involved in any long, heated debates about why you are or are not eating certain foods; it's not worth it!
The Sunday Lunch
If you're home for dinner with the family, whether it's for the holidays or just to let them meet your new boyfriend, you're sure to come under fire from relatives. It could be your new hairstyle, your outfit or even how much you weigh. Comments such as, “Are you sure you're eating enough?” and “You're so skinny, how much do you weigh?” can really rub you up the wrong way, particularly if you've been making a special effort to eat healthily and get plenty of exercise.
Whilst it's tempting to tell your family and friends to mind their own business, it could be that they're secretly a little jealous and wondering what your secret is, so don't judge them too harshly. Diffuse tension by responding politely, with something like this, “I weigh an average amount for my height, in fact I had a health check recently and the new healthy eating plan and exercise routine I am on is really doing me good!” Shift the focus from your appearance to other areas of your life, such as your work, or your relationship, or use the opportunity to ask about how your family are doing. As long as you feel healthy and are loaded with energy, that's all that matters!
The Office Lunch
Picture this: It's a Friday lunchtime in your office and everyone is debating whether the team should order pizza or Thai food – or maybe some doughnuts? You don't want to get drawn into a debate, but neither do you want to spoil your healthy eating with fast food laden with sugar, fat and other additives. Chances are, you'll be asked what you want and told you can skip your 'diet' for the day and treat yourself. You're an adult, so you know that, thank you very much, but you want to maintain your healthy eating plan (maybe you'll enjoy that cheat day at the weekend instead!)
Rather than biting back and offending people, just say, “I'm stuffed as I had a really big breakfast,” or make an excuse about going out for dinner after work. Most people won't pry further, and this way you're not making anyone feel bad about enjoying fast food. There's nothing wrong with treating yourself if you do fancy a bit of fast food now and again, but you shouldn't feel pressured into it when you don't want it. Not to mention all that fat and sugar will give you a massive mid-afternoon crash and leave you feeling sluggish and tired!
Staying healthy and making positive choices is never easy – temptation is all around us and often the people we expect to support us are those who offer us an easy-out like a takeaway or a chocolate bar. You don't need to explain your eating habits to anyone, but it does help to be tactful and not force your opinions on others. Nobody wants to become one of those people who criticises others for their less-than-healthy choices. Instead, deflect attention from your eating habits and respond politely to people who are digging for information – remember, you're the one in control of what you put in your body, and you should feel proud of all that you've achieved!