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.
Latest posts by KimiHarris (see all)
- 2 Ingredient Peppermint Bark - December 21, 2022
- Herbal Hibiscus Lemonade (Keto, THM) - March 16, 2022
- Creamy Curry Red Lentil Soup - December 8, 2021
Thank you for this post! I’ve wrestled with this over the last year as I have been on a strict diet to try to identify food sensitivities related to my arthritis, and my biggest problem is what to do when I am invited to a dinner party. Luckily my friends are supportive and want to accommodate me, but it’s so darn complicated I am reluctant to even start listing the things I can’t eat right now. So my solution has been to bring my own food. I had to work a bit to get my friends to agree to this, but when I explain that it’s their company I treasure most, not the meal they will serve me, they usually come around.
It is complicated! I am so glad that you have you good friends who are gracious about this issue. I do too. I like how you explained to them what you treasured about them.
Thank you. This was just what I needed to hear. After a year of being on a very restictive diet and seeing some progress but nothing like I would have hoped I certainly needed some encouragement especially when there are some events where I just don’t/can’t attend right now because it is so exhausting to pack food!
It is so hard, isn’t it! Especially when you have doubts about whether it’s going to be worth it or not. I am glad this was encouraging to you.
For me, I found that a diet somewhere in the middle of the most flexible and the most restrictive is the best for me. I hope you find the answers you need for what’s best for you!
Kimi, thank you so much for this! After a day of doubt, frustration, and downright pissed off-ness (sorry for the offensive language!!!), this just reaffirms my faith to keep going! If it was just for my sake it perhaps would not be so trying but my main focus is on my 3 yr old daughter and 1 yr old son that have multiple food allergies/sensitivities as well as environmental, pet, chemical allergies. With the holidays approaching, it seems to truly put us on the spotlight and frankly I don’t want to even bother! However, we do have family that truly does support us and understands our needs. It is “humorous” to see people’s faces when I unpack my traveling mini fridge worth of food for our family at functions! I just try to remain hopeful that one day I can look back at these times and truly breath a sigh of relief.
Yes, I can entirely relate! One of the strictest diets we did was because we were pretty much forced to because of some digestive issues one of my children was having. It would be hard to do all of that work for myself (whose health issues aren’t too terrible), but for my children? Yup, I was going to give it a go.
I appreciate this! I’m off several major foods for the sake of my nursing baby’s health issues, and I know it feels uncomfortable for other people when I don’t eat anybody’s food at a potluck or we decline going out to lunch because there’s nowhere I can eat. It makes me a little uncomfortable too (violates a lot of social norms), but that’s where we are right now.
Thanks for sharing. This issue is more and more relevant as more and more families make changes for their kids’ or their own celiac disease/allergies/autoimmune conditions/etc.
It does violate a lot of social norms, unfortunately. 🙁 There is a healthy freedom in being able to do what you need to do regardless of social norms, thankfully though. Good for you for doing what you need to do!
Thank You for the post. I am reading this on the eve of my thousandth attempt
to change my diet for the hope of improved health. So nice to read other people’s experience. A bit off the subject, but related, it would be great to have links to sites with user/fr info on making a house healthy w/out a re-build
Thank you so much for these encouraging words! You have put into writing what I have been thinking and feeling for so long as we have made some permanent lifestyle changes for our health. My husband is a youth pastor and these choices that we’ve made have made this new job a bit more complicated as many church activities center around food. Thanks for sharing and may God bless you and your family as you continue on your nourishing journey!
I so understand, Rachel! Being in ministry does make certain choices more tricky. God bless you too, on your journey. 🙂
Thank you Kimi. Our whole family will begin GAPS Intro on Nov. 1 and I am SO dreading the many things that you just wrote about. We are already seen as weird because we eat only real food. The biggest emotional drainer has been the dread that my children are expressing about this journey, and the fact that we will be on it all Holiday season. Thank you for your timely post.
I’ve been on GAPS with my husband and 3 kids (ages 6, 4, & 2) for 6 weeks. We are just getting off intro this week. The first couple weeks are the hardest as everyone adjusts to the food and the restrictions. My kids (especially my oldest child) has noticed such a difference in how she feels that she doesn’t have an issue doing our “special diet” now. In fact, when she got a cold this week, she said, “thanks for the broth, this will help me get better.” Haha! I would never have expected that.
I say all that as an encouragement. It’s hard work, but the results are worth the effort. Stay the course, and find some gaps-friendly holiday treats so your kids don’t feel deprived 🙂
Best wishes for you and your family’s health.
Thanks, I’m bookmarking this to reread at Thanksgiving and Christmas when I have to deal with my family who thinks I’m out of control because a crumb can make me sick (I have celiac and am very reactive)!
Oh, I am so sorry your family reacts that way! Sometimes there is a lot of denial that happens with close relationships. They just don’t want to face reality, but would rather think others are just being silly and “overreacting”.
Good comments on a great post. I can relate to those that pack their own food. We recently visited family out of state (mine and his) for a week and I had a full cooler of my veggies and quinoa patties and grass-fed beef and quinoa meatballs, and all sorts of things, and a large bag filled with spices, raw honey, etc etc etc! It was sort of funny, but also sad, that no one in our families eats like I do. No one. At least there was a Whole Foods close by. And going out to eat, oh my gosh….I just sucked it up and dealt with the consequences later.
Most people who eat SAD (standard American diet) don’t realize that after eating clean for a while, then eating something processed, there ARE consequences! I DO feel it! And while I don’t have any major diseases or health issues, my body does respond negatively when I consume anything processed, gluten, or poor quality meat. Ugh.
I am dreading Thanksgiving. Anyone have a healthy option for stuffing? lol
My mother in law always made a really yummy wild rice/rice stuffing. It was delicious!
Paleo stuffing http://www.mommypotamus.com/homestyle-stuffing-gaps-paleo-primal/
Kimi, you are such an encouragement on the journey. Such an encouragement. My husband and I have both gained a ton of weight in the last few years due to trauma (came off of birth control, changed jobs, moved 4000 miles, apartment burned down). We know it is bad because our digestion is all off due to stress. We have *finally* started being able to eat and cook real food again in our own kitchen 80% of the time. We recently moved closer to our families and it has really not been a great thing. They consistently put us down for our food choices, talk about how people on the internet are stupid (my father-in-law is an M.D….I love him, but his ego is quite large), and I have been told that ‘what you put in your body does not affect your skin’. It has been so disheartening because we desperately wanted to live near family after everything that happened to us, and now this. With both of us working full-time, I have also struggled at work with people judging my food, as has my husband. Such a struggle. Thank you again for the encouragement – and also for letting me type out my frustration!
We are thinking of going on GAPS to heal some of this gut damage from stress…but I feel like we can’t even think of it until after the holidays due to family. We would have nothing to eat!
First, I am so sorry for all of the stress that you have gone through! Life can be really rough sometimes. And I am so frustrated for you that your family (whom you would hope would be supportive of you) are not playing that role for you. I know that it is going to be hard regardless, but I have found that (whether with peers or family) being secure in who I am and in the decisions I make has helped so much in letting people’s comments roll off me. It doesn’t take away all of the discomfort, but it really helps.
I lost a friendship over my food choices. Can you believe it? My so called best friend could not accept and support my decision to go gluten free because both my children, and myself, get very sick from wheat. She completely disrespected our decision, by feeding my family wheat behind my back. She has gone around to her friends and our church, bad mouthing me and making fun of my decision. Meanwhile I have lost 40 pounds, regained my health, my kids are feeling much better and are healthy again and my husband is behind us 100%. I live next door to my friend, but we haven’t spoken in three years. I don’t have any desire to reconcile with this ‘friend’ as it has become clear that some people (particularly if they have weight/food issues themselves) are toxic and she clearly isn’t a friend. My family and their health is far more important than any friendship. 🙁
That is so unfortunate and sad! I am so sorry. Sometimes situations like this show the true colors of our “friends”. Sometimes it shows how dear and caring our friends really are, and sometimes it shows the opposite. I hope that you have other, more supportive friendships behind you.
Marianne @ Ragdoll Kitchen
Thank you so much for sharing 🙂 So many of us are put on the weird or just too difficult list. It’s a great reminder, even when we’re on that list, that we are not alone.
The “weird people” list…Yes, I think I am definitely on that list in some people’s minds. 😉
I take a cooler or cooler bag almost everywhere I go. I have what I call “purse food.” I have a refrigerator and a small rice cooker in my office. I decided to stop eating wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol and processed foods two and a half years ago to deal with digestive problems. I feel so much better. I would never go back. Most negative reactions are from people who feel that they should be doing something similar but have not. I don’t let it bother me. If people ask I explain. If they don’t, I don’t. I make jokes and self-depricating remarks to diffuse any comments and I don’t care what people think. I have to live in my body and I want it to feel good. I am not asking anyone else to change. In fact, I cook “regular” meals for the rest of my family every day. Do what works for you and try not to worry what other people think about it.
You said, “Most negative reactions are from people who feel that they should be doing something similar but have not.” I agree that is very often the case!
Thanks for this post.
Friends joke around about me being difficult, and I find myself trying to justify myself or sometimes to not cause a fuss, I just eat the wheat or whatever they give me that I don’t really want.
Family, well some are understanding and do their best to accommodate, others roll their eyes or they ask me why I’m still doing it as it’s obviously not working, so just get on with it.
This post has encouraged me and given tips on how to handle things better and that our own personal health is our own judgment call. Thanks.
Thank you for this encouragement! I have Gastroparesis, and I feel that I am constantly being judged by others about my diet. Unfortunately, I think most of the time the judgment comes from people who don’t understand. It would be nice if friends and family would take the time to educate themselves about the health challenges some of us face, but it doesn’t always happen. I am trying to learn to not allow someone’s lack of knowledge to make me feel guilty. I am so thankful I came across your blog today, I really needed to hear your words…now to Pin this as a good reminder for the Holidays:)
First of all, welcome to my blog! And secondly, I am so glad that this post was helpful to you. 🙂 I loved what you said. ” I am trying to learn to not allow someone’s lack of knowledge to make me feel guilty. “
This post is certainly fitting for where we’re at right now. My 16 mo old has just been diagnosed with an incredibly serious, hard to treat epileptic disorder. We’re planning to go into the hospital in 2 weeks to start the ketogenic diet for her. It’s a diet of 80% fat that forces the body into ketosis for a time period (sometimes quite extended) that helps many children with this type of disorder. I’m scrambling to find ways to make this as nourishing as possible since any cream or butter I use has to be a certified butterfat percentage that is guaranteed by the manufacturer (goodbye cream from our fabulous local farmer) I’m reading good things about the Organic Valley brand of cream (as opposed to other major organic brands) Could anybody help me out as far as what major retailers carry this brand or anywhere that it is sold in the St Louis, Mo area? Thank you!
First of all. I have heard amazing things about the Ketogenic diet for epileptic disorder. Good for you for being willing to try it! But yes, I am sure that it does have you scrambling! I have also heard some good things about Organic Valley, especially their pastured butter – http://www.organicvalley.coop/products/butter/pasture/. I wonder, since ghee is pure fat, whether that would be a good option for you as well?
I think ghee would be an option, but I’ve stocked up on Kerrygold butter and cheese at Costco when we were in the area for apts w/ her specialists. Just so you know, I was able to do that (even though I’d never been in a Costco in my life) because I remembered a previous post you had about Costco. Thanks for that! Cream is one of the most palatable ways to get extra fat into every meal so I’m really hoping to find some that I feel comfortable feeding her high amounts of. I’ve tried and tried to search online to figure out who even carries the Organic Valley brand but I’m not coming up with anything. Thanks!
Oh, forgot to add. Shirataki noodles are often used on the diet as they are so low in carbs. I remembered a previous post where you had mentioned the noodles and reading what you had to say about them made me feel better about including them in her diet (the diet is incredibly low in fiber so this is actually starting to look like a really good option for her). There is SO much research I have to be doing so little things like that where I can go and get someone’s opinion that I trust is proving to be very helpful these days. Just wanted to say thanks for doing what you do!
I am so glad that my blog has been helpful to you! Those noodles are actually pretty yummy, and definitely help you not feel deprived. They are also used on the BED, so a lot of sensitive people seem to be able to enjoy them. 🙂
Thank you so much for this post! It was definitely timely and something I needed to hear. I have suffered from digestive issues for a few years and have had to bring my own food to family functions, as well as avoid going out to eat because there is rarely anything on the menu that I can eat without getting sick. I’ve found that eliminating dairy and processed sugar from my diet has made a tremendous difference and I am doing much better than I was! It is truly amazing how much a person’s diet and what they fill their body with can affect their health. Thanks again for the encouragement. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one deals with these issues and that there are others out there who understand what it’s like to go through!
Also, I am new to your blog and I love it! Keep the great recipes coming!
Great post! We’ve been treated as though we were “pathetic”, “freaks”, or “food snobs”. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t give a hoot what others think. As I watch some folks eat things that I know are very bad for you, I just back off from it and know that we are all responsible for our decisions. I’m truly tired of others expressing their thoughts on our family’s diet.