Let me paint a picture for you. You are at a birthday party and you’re having a great time. You ate before you came so that you can skip the pizza and french fries. Everyone is bypassing the salad and veggies so there is plenty for you to have seconds and thirds. The night is nearing an end and you feel confident in your choices knowing that your night will not be filled with feelings of headaches, stomachaches, and general feelings of disgust. As “Happy Birthday” is finished being butchered by 20 vocally challenged individuals, the birthday cake gets passed around. You politely deny a piece and that’s when it happens: you get “the look” and “the comment.”
Two beady little eyes pierce through your soul and Judith says, “Oh, look at Mr. Healthy skipping the cake. Is one piece going to kill you? Want me to get you some kale?” You smile and fake laugh, but on the inside the debate of what you truly want to say and do wages on.
The relentless judgement of others can be one of the most frustrating occurrences to deal with. In situations such as this, when denying a piece of cake is comparatively as offensive as insulting one’s mother
, the judgment only slightly bothers you. The real issue and concern is the fact that the person passing forth the judgement is choosing to make poor health decisions and you know that, deep down inside, that person would choose an improvement in health if given the opportunity. As someone who is educated, informed, and practices healthful behaviors, where does your responsibility lie?
When faced with situations like above, the health coach in me finds it very difficult to stand idle while someone makes health decisions that are detrimental to their health. It is substantially more difficult to stand idle when the individual’s health decisions are detrimental to others, particularly children. Imagine how angry you would feel if you saw someone smoking in a car with a child in the backseat. Now imagine how angry you would feel if that child was the one smoking. Double that and you get how I feel when I see parents constantly bombarding their children’s digestive systems with processed junk.
You may call me crazy and think that I am being a bit overzealous. 30 years ago someone would have thought the same thing about someone getting upset over parents smoking in the car with their kids in it. The information and application has not yet caught up to be completely mainstream, and people continue to make health decisions that negatively effect themselves and others. This lack of knowledge, or the inability to decipher the abundance of knowledge available, often leads people to doing whatever they are comfortable with. They eat a diet that consists of foods that do not contribute to their overall well being then cannot explain why they frequently experience upset stomachs, headaches, or other illnesses.
Furthermore, these same people often suffer from depression-like symptoms, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and/or other conditions that they fail to associate with diet and nutrition. If only they knew what they were putting into their bodies each and every day had a profound effect on both their physical and mental well being, perhaps they would not be as quick to judge and would consider sorting through the information to find what works and make improvements in their lives.
In order to help those individuals the first thing you must do is what you are probably currently doing, continue to make healthy decisions. By being a positive role model and showing others that your health comes first, you can get other people thinking about their personal health and potentially spark the conversation. When others see how great you look and feel, they will be intrigued and hopefully want to know how you got to where you are. You can offer conversational pieces that you think others may find interesting but keep it light.
Force feeding your habits and lifestyle choices on someone or ridiculing them for feeding their kids pizza six times a week will probably lead to confrontation and most likely will not cause change. However, make yourself available and be excited when someone asks about making health improvements. It is helpful to realize that creating lasting change in someone is a lengthy process and consists of small, incremental changes. In fact, I’ll bet that you got where you are today through small changes and that you continually find ways to make even greater improvements to your lifestyle.
When facing the possibility of helping others or educating them on your health path, don’t be afraid to be firm and stay tall. You may get insulted because of your decisions, and we know that judgement is passed quite easily, but that does not mean that you have to have to take it. I am not encouraging you to reply with an “Ok, Fatty, maybe you should try making healthier choices,” but it is important to note that, in more cases than not, being healthy is not the socially dominant choice.
As I’m sure you know, making healthy decisions can leave you feeling like an outlier or an outcast. Don’t adopt this mindset. In these situations I prefer to think of myself as a crusader, an activist, or simply a leader of the health movement
. I have the knowledge that others need and I will do whatever I can to help them have their awakening. I am not going to force anything upon anyone but I am also not going to be insulted for practicing a healthy lifestyle. Reaffirm your beliefs and remind yourself why you are making the decisions that you do. When you are passionate and belief in your choices and actions you will naturally attract others and hopefully you can be part of a healthier change.
What do you do when someone comments negatively on your healthy decisions? Leave a comment below!