Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reader Advice Day: What To Think When Friends Call You Names

Hello out there! Today I bring us another installment of "Reader Advice Day" where I present a question that was asked of me to you, the readers, to get community input. This is probably one of the most important topics we will ever discuss here on HGK. I believe that most of us have dealt with this exact issue at some point in our journey, or maybe even deal with it regularly.

"Hi Wendy,

I recently had a friend describe my form of eating as 'restrictive' and it kind of hit a chord. I have been mostly plant based for the last 6 months. I went on a road trip with my friend and I packed some of my meals because I knew we would be stopping at some fast food places where I would not have any options. I do have children and do not impose my way of eating on them, I give them choices and often times I will fix them something different. My husband is totally on board and 'gets' why I changed. But I am wondering how to deal with the whole 'restrictive' label I was given. Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give me!"

Does this table of food look restrictive to you? Or abundant?

My thoughts?

I want to say that the word "restrictive" is a loaded word. I myself have never been anorexic, but I have read a little bit about it and I know that anorexia involves severe restriction. Was your friend implying that you are becoming Anorexic? Have you ever been Anorexic? Are you starving yourself to be thin? If so, that is a whole other ball of wax, so to speak, and probably not the subject of this blog posting.

Okay, so let's say that the answer is "no" and we are not dealing with anorexia.

There is actually a term for a possible new emerging eating disorder called "Orthorexia." Let's also rule that out as an option, because that also could be something that your friend legitimately could be concerned about. You said yourself that the comment that he or she made "hit a cord."

"Orthorexia nervosa (also known as orthorexia) is a proposed eating disorder or mental disorder characterized by an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthful." source

Does that describe your mental state? Is eating this way "a problem" for you? Does it cause you anxiety? If so, I would not advise you to stop eating this way, but I would recommend that you find someone to talk to that could help you to continue to eat healthfully while not experiencing it in a disorderly way.

But let's say neither of those is the case, and we are just talking about what most of us deal with on a regular basis, which is negative comments about eating some form of a WFPB diet (Whole Food Plant Based diet).

There are many ways that you could cope with these comments in your own mind.

Number one, don't take anything personally, ever. It's usually about the person who said "the thing" and not about you. Ask yourself how the thing that was said could reflect some struggle that the person is having. Maybe they really are worried about you eating an uber healthy diet because it forces them to confront the poor choices that they make on a daily basis. That's their problem, don't make it yours. It's about an internal struggle they are having.

Two, ask yourself if you feel restricted or liberated? I can see how an outsider would look at a WFPB diet and think it was restrictive. But is that a bad thing? For me, it is not. It's actually a great thing. Why? Because I can eat until I am comfortably satisfied and never feel that sick, full feeling I would have after eating a SAD (Standard American Diet) meal. I feel great! Is that a problem for my friends and family? If so, I don't give a hoot.

Do you feel great or do you feel bad about the way you are eating? Are you actually restricting foods that you want to eat (meat, dairy, processed foods, salty, sugary, oily foods?) or are you including way more foods in your diet (loads of veggies, fruit, beans and whole grains) because on a very calm level you know that those items are health promoting?

One could look at a WFPB diet as the epitome of abundance, not restriction. It's all how in how you view it. If you looked at a large table covered in gorgeous fruits, vegetables, potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds, onions and garlic and compared that with a table of food from McDonalds and the inside aisles of any supermarket, which table looks like a table of abundance and which one looks like a table of restriction?

Does this look like the plate of food of someone who is a restrictive eater or an abundant eater?

I once read that a person confronted with this issue would tell people that he is eating this way for ninety days (or something like that) as a test, and if he doesn't feel better, lose weight, get off his meds, etc. after that time that he would revert back to his old way of eating. That way it disarmed the fearful people in his life. Now what are the chances that all of those things didn't come to pass? But you get the point, it disarmed the naysayers.

Lastly, I urge you not to let this comment or comments like this derail you. I know how easy it is to fall off this wagon and it's very possible that you won't be happy about it later on if you do.

I'm sure everyone has a lot to add on this topic, so I encourage everyone to leave a comment with your thoughts on this very important matter.

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