It’s no secret that when you eat healthy, whole foods, you feel great. Naturally, you want your family and friends to feel great also, so you want to teach them how, because you care. But if you get on your soapbox at one more family dinner, they’re going to stop inviting you!
Don’t end up being resented for your good-intentioned efforts.
Here are 7 tips to keep in mind to help you approach your less-healthfully-inclined friends with caution, tact, and encouragement:
1. No insulting or criticizing.
Don’t criticize anything in their cabinets or what they cook for dinner or feed their kids. Everyone is trying their best and attacking anyone will do more harm than good. It will only make them annoyed with you rather than open to the message you are trying to promote.
2. Don’t talk too much about your food rules.
If you do live by a diet with a title—Vegan, gluten-free, raw, etc.—that’s your choice (unless, of course, you have food allergies or sensitivities). You probably have strong beliefs in your reasoning and that's valid. Just keep in mind that people don’t need to hear about it ten times while they're finishing their chicken sandwich.
3. Join your friends in eating the occasional slice of cake.
Make sure you aren’t in fact being too restrictive for yourself! Join your friends in eating a slice of birthday cake. It will demonstrate to them that healthy people are allowed to do that!
4. Cook for others.
Usually, people think healthy meals are too hard to make or too flavorless to eat. Suggest a potluck and volunteer to bring the kale salad or a naturally sweetened dessert. When they taste it, they will be amazed. Better yet, have them watch you make your dish. Teach them about the ingredients you are using and where you bought them. This will make it feel more accessible for them than staring at recipes with ingredients they have never heard of. You’re always talking about how delicious your meals are so put up or shut up!
5. Be supportive of their efforts.
If they are excited about their fridge full of fruits and vegetables, don’t shoot them down by asking if they're organic or commenting on fructose, or pointing out that they're cooking with a generous portion of butter and oils. It's annoying to feel like no matter how hard you try, you are not succeeding. Instead, suggest a healthy recipe you will bring them (or make for them) that uses the ingredients in their fridge and make sure you acknowledge all that they're already doing.
6. Be the example and keep shining.
They might not admit it, but they are amazed at how happy and healthy you look. They wonder how you always manage to have a positive outlook on things and you give the most encouraging and supportive advice. Healthy habits gave you that power and your friends will put two and two together eventually.
7. Understand that some people are perfectly happy with the way they live their life and aren’t wishing they were you.
Also, some people are unwilling to change whether they are happy or not. Just because you live a certain way that makes you happy does not give you reason to act self righteous and critical of those around you. Be accepting of other lifestyles and continue to inspire by example, it’s the best way!