I once heard through the grapevine gossip about another blogger who was going through a very strict healing diet to help with pretty extreme health issues. Apparently her old friends did not appreciate the inconvenience of her new dietary restrictions and were complaining to mutual friends about it, “We can’t even have her over anymore, because we don’t know what to feed her!”
Have you had to explain yet once again what dietary restrictions your child had only to receive a snarky response? Have you had to be the “mean” mom (or the “stuck up” purist) at parties by declining to eat the party food? Have you ever had painful relational issues related to your food choices? This post is for you.
I recently wrote a post to encourage those of you who are in a season of not eating an ideal diet, or being able to fulfill your hopes in that area. I was so very blessed by the many of you who contacted me about that post, and was so glad that it struck a chord with you.
And now a different group of people, whom I also relate to, has been on my heart, and I wanted to encourage you too. You know who you are. You are the mothers who have children with allergies, intolerances, or health issues that have forced dramatic dietary changes. You are the single people who have chosen to avoid societal norms in eating habits for your health’s sake. You are the family who has to eat a certain healing diet to deal with digestive ills that otherwise would control your life.
You know what its like. Perhaps you’ve had friends who have gossiped about your dietary changes to others, “Did you hear how so-and-so is going so extreme with her children’s diet? She wouldn’t even let them eat cake at my son’s birthday party! I’m all for eating healthy, but I also believe in moderation!” Perhaps you’ve had people try to shame you into eating as others do, “Please, one slice of cake is not going to ruin your health.” Or “I believe that it is far more important to be flexible in eating habits for the sake of friendship and hospitality.” Friends may have rolled their eyes when you announced that you had an intolerance, many may have stopped inviting you over for dinner because it was just too difficult to deal with your children’s or you own restrictions. Perhaps family members have teased, misunderstood your intentions, or felt judged by your choices.
I have three things to share with you.
Don’t live your life trying to please other people
There are so many ways it can be tempting to live your life with your eyes on other’s reactions instead of your own priorities. Living under the weight of the approval of even dear friends can be a heavy burden. So take that burden off of you. You don’t need the approval of others to feel great about the decisions you make. While others can offer keen insight to our lives at times (and it’s great to be open to that), there is going to be a time and place in all of our lives, where we have to make decisions that we know others in our life will not understand or agree with. Food choices are just one of many of those.
This is sometimes a difficult reality. And I know that, as others have hurt many of you in your life because of your food choices. I know because you have shared your stories with me.
While we can’t control the hurtful words that others can say, the misunderstandings in life that often seem inevitable, or how others react to us, we can control the burden of public approval we place on ourselves. We can choose to remove it mentally. We can choose to be secure in knowing that we are in charge of our lives and our decisions, and even though others can momentarily pain us, in the end, letting those words or actions roll away like water on a duck’s back can help those words not fester in our hearts, or tear down our self-confidence.
How you choose to live your life is, of course, a very personal matter, and giving yourself the authority to make the best decisions for you (and/or your family) is the first step to creating healthy boundaries in your life.
So when other’s actions or words create anxiety or insecurity, remember that they are not in charge of your life, but you are.
Some react because of insecurity so try to respond with compassion
I once had to sit through a friend’s 20-minute rant about why she didn’t want to eat like me, and how that wouldn’t serve her family, and how she had better priorities for herself. I was really taken back, because I had never even talked to this friend about food, and she had only visited my food blog once or twice for a recipe. I was really tempted to be offended at her desire to demean my choices. But then I paused. I realized, through thinking back through the conversation, that while it has seemed a very aggressive attempt to minimize my own choices, and elevate hers, that really she was responding to my lifestyle with insecurity about her own choices, and so felt compelled to give me a run down of why she made the choices she did.
It was then that I started to understand that we all often react to each other with insecurity and fear of other’s disapproval. (And that’s why point number one is so important.) Sometimes when you feel under attack by your peers, they may just be trying to soothe their own insecurities. Being as gracious and kind as you can in how you respond can go a long way in such circumstances. I have often used self-deprecating humor to lighten the mood and show that I don’t take myself too seriously, even if I do eat a little differently.
Be encouraged that you can make a difference
And finally, I don’t know what the end of your story is going to be or if you have found “the answer” to all your health woes in your current eating plan, but I did want to say this: In my years in the “nourishing food” crowd, I have seen amazing results from good food choices, and heard so many testimonies that have encouraged me that what we eat can be a very powerful thing. I have also met many, like myself, where this is a journey for the long term. I have had powerful results changing my diet, but certain lingering issues are still a source of needed healing. Some things I have tried have not worked, others have. It’s a process, and I’m okay that it’s a process, because I think it’s worth it, and I believe in the benefits, because I have seen them personally.
Make good choices in how I eat has had beautiful results for me, even though it hasn’t yet solved all of my woes. So be encouraged that eating well can really produce good things, and if that is the path you have chosen to take, you are in the company of many of us who have also found it the right place for us.
And that food blogger I knew that I heard gossip about? Her healing diet worked, and all of those health issues she had disappeared, and her life is no longer controlled by her previous serious health issues.