Posts Tagged ‘culture’

How to Thrive Eating Differently Than the People Around You and in the Fast Food Culture We Live In (Part One)

July 22, 2009
You’ll notice when you change your diet, one of the challenges that comes up very quickly is the social aspect of eating. We are social creatures and most of our social gatherings revolve around food. Of course, we have to eat wherever we go!
I’ve been a vegetarian for 19 years now, so I’ve been experimenting with this a lot. However, this article is not going to be about eating vegetarian. It’s going to be about eating differently than the people in your life, wherever you go, regardless of what you are choosing to eat. Most of my examples however, will be vegan or low fat raw vegan.
Choice
We often forget this:what we put into our bodies is absolutely, as adults, our individual choice. I am often asked, “Is it OK for you to eat (fill in the blank)?” My response to this question is, “I can eat whatever I want!” Whatever I eat or do not eat is based on what diets or lifestyles (I consider yoga, vegetarian, raw foodist, etc., lifestyles rather than diets) I’m exploring. So here is another reminder for you: Different diets are not dogmas! Anytime you create a dogma for yourself, your whole being will resist and/or feel deprived.  Use the diet as a guideline, and feel what your body feels when you make changes. I find it useful to track the changes in writing so I can look back. When you start feeling good, you forget how you felt when you were eating the foods you don’t eat anymore.
I’ve definitely kept my family on their toes with all my dietary changes and experimenting over the years. But I do not feel deprived because I’m choosing foods that are healthy for my body. What is loving to remember, is that they also have a choice. So I don’t get up on my soap box and preach about what I eat. I’ve had to teach my daughter to be compassionate about others’ choices about eating meat. She hasn’t eaten meat her whole life, so to her it was a shock when people would “eat her friends.” To her, meat is not food! Most of our loved ones do eat meat, and we often eat together, so I had to quickly teach her not to exclaim, “Disgusting!” Rather, we explain why we don’t eat meat.
Defense
You don’t have to defend your choice to anyone, but it does help them to be compassionate with you. But first you have to be comfortable with it and compassionate with yourself.  Why are you eating the way you are?  Are you eating that way because someone told you to? Or is it because of something you learned? Educating yourself is the best defense if you want to have that conversation. But you don’t even have to have that conversation. Most of the questions I get are based on old food education (Basic 4 food groups or the food pyramid) or the media. The most common question I get is, “Where do you get your protein?”
Generally, if someone is asking questions, they are more open to discussing new ways, so this can be an invitation for learning. However, if someone is eating unconsciously, you might trigger some guilt they have about what they are eating.  Dr. Douglas Graham suggests a couple things you can say when you are asked about your way of eating during a meal: 1) Let the person know that you would love to talk to them after the meal. 2) Tell them a doctor prescribed the diet for you.  I generally will answer questions because it’s a subject that I love to discuss. But sometimes I would rather discuss other things!  It can be quite fascinating to people when you only eat raw fruits and vegetables, so it’s a hot topic!
Judgment
If you are having a hard time, or finding yourself defensive or upset, the easiest way to work with it is, as always, with yourself. This can go both ways. You can become angry that you are being judged or attacked (which could mean that you believe what they are saying to you on some level), or you may feel angry or upset about the way they are eating (which could mean you are angry or upset about the way you are treating yourself, generally speaking.) To break from this pattern, when you start to feel these feelings, allow them to be just as they are.  To do that, pause and reflect before you react. If you need to step away from the situation triggering you, do that. Imagine a small child is feeling the feelings and be receptive and loving to the part of you that is upset and angry.  If it is an emergency, you can imagine you’re holding the child and say, “I love you” over and over. If you have more time, ask “What is the judgment?” and follow these steps. Judgment Release Practice.
Next month: Part 2: Practical Food Ideas for Social Situations

You’ll notice when you change your diet, one of the challenges that comes up very quickly is the social aspect of eating. We are social creatures and most of our social gatherings revolve around food. Of course, we have to eat wherever we go!

I’ve been a vegetarian for 19 years now, so I’ve been experimenting with this a lot. However, this article is not going to be about eating vegetarian. It’s going to be about eating differently than the people in your life, wherever you go, regardless of what you are choosing to eat. Most of my examples however, will be vegan or low fat raw vegan, which is how I eat presently.

Choice

We often forget this: what we put into our bodies is absolutely, as adults, our individual choice. I am often asked, “Is it OK for you to eat (fill in the blank)?” My response to this question is, “I can eat whatever I want!” Whatever I eat or do not eat is based on what diets or lifestyles (I consider yoga, vegetarian, raw foodist, etc., lifestyles rather than diets) I’m exploring. So here is another reminder for you: Different diets are not dogmas! Anytime you create a dogma for yourself, your whole being will resist and/or feel deprived.  Use the diet as a guideline, and feel what your body feels when you make changes. I find it useful to track the changes in writing so I can look back. When you start feeling good, you forget how you felt when you were eating the foods you don’t eat anymore.

I’ve definitely kept my family on their toes with all my dietary changes and experimenting over the years. But I do not feel deprived because I’m choosing foods that are healthy for my body. What is loving to remember, is that they also have a choice. So I don’t get up on my soap box and preach about what I eat. I’ve had to teach my daughter to be compassionate about others’ choices about eating meat. She hasn’t eaten meat her whole life, so to her it was a shock when people would “eat her friends.” To her, meat is not food! Most of our loved ones do eat meat, and we often eat together, so I had to quickly teach her not to exclaim, “Disgusting!” Rather, we explain why we don’t eat meat.

Defense

You don’t have to defend your choice to anyone, but it does help them to be compassionate with you. But first you have to be comfortable with it and compassionate with yourself.  Why are you eating the way you are?  Are you eating that way because someone told you to? Or is it because of something you learned? Educating yourself is the best defense if you want to have that conversation. But you don’t even have to have that conversation. Most of the questions I get are based on old food education (Basic 4 food groups or the food pyramid) or the media. The most common question I get is, “Where do you get your protein?”

Generally, if someone is asking questions, they are more open to discussing new ways, so this can be an invitation for learning. However, if someone is eating unconsciously, you might trigger some guilt they have about what they are eating.  Dr. Douglas Graham suggests a couple things you can say when you are asked about your way of eating during a meal: 1) Let the person know that you would love to talk to them after the meal. 2) Tell them a doctor prescribed the diet for you.  I generally will answer questions because it’s a subject that I love to discuss. But sometimes I would rather discuss other things!  It can be quite fascinating to people when you only eat raw fruits and vegetables, so it’s a hot topic!

Judgment

If you are having a hard time, or finding yourself defensive or upset, the easiest way to work with it is, as always, with yourself. This can go both ways. You can become angry that you are being judged or attacked (which could mean that you believe what they are saying to you on some level), or you may feel angry or upset about the way they are eating (which could mean you are angry or upset about the way you are treating yourself, generally speaking.) To break from this pattern, when you start to feel these feelings, allow them to be just as they are.  To do that, pause and reflect before you react. If you need to step away from the situation triggering you, do that. Imagine a small child is feeling the feelings and be receptive and loving to the part of you that is upset and angry.  If it is an emergency, you can imagine you’re holding the child and say, “I love you” over and over. If you have more time, feel the feeling,  ask “What is the judgment?” and follow these steps. Judgment Release Practice.

Next month: Part 2: Practical Food Ideas for Social Situations


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