You probably know by now that no matter how hard you work out, you won’t be able get the most out of if you’re not eating a healthy diet.
So what can you do if your friends, family, and other people around you not only aren’t helping to support the way you eat, they’re actually judging you for it?
They may tell you to chill out, relax and not to be so “anxious” about your food all the time. It’s the weekend! Let’s have pizza! Take it easy! Have some cake!
It depends on your own personal goals, of course, but for most people it works best to stick to your healthy diet around 80 to 90 percent of the time.
What Do We Mean by a Healthy Diet?
At 12 Minute Athlete, we really try and emphasize the idea that food is fuel and never try and push one particular diet on anyone.
In fact, really fit people don’t take up diet after diet after diet, only to crash and start over and over again. That can easily happen if you’re putting yourself on an extremely restrictive diet that you actually hate.
If you’re on a super strict plan eating just steamed veggies and tilapia or chicken breast, you can take my word for it that you’ll end up quitting sooner than later. A diet like this is simply not sustainable, and that’s not at all what we mean by encouraging a healthy diet.
A truly healthy diet consists of large amounts of veggies, healthy proteins, and adequate amounts of carbs and fat. It doesn’t consist of too many sugary treats and includes only minimally processed foods.
Eating like that for most of the time is not obsessive—it’s taking care of your body.
How to Deal With People Judging Your Healthy Diet
If you eat like this most of the time, there will always be people who try to tell you that you’re “obsessed” with healthy eating. It can be especially difficult when you’re eating out and order a salad while everyone else gets fried or overly processed foods. And toughest of all is your own family, friends, or co-workers constantly try and pressure you to eat differently than your goals.
This is when it can get really hard to stick with your dietary commitments.
Here are some tactics you can try…
Try to Explain
If your friends or family members don’t understand why you want to eat a healthy diet, try first to explain it to them.
First of all, you can say that you’ll skip (insert any junk food) because it makes you feel bad. That’s absolutely true—once you learn to eat tons of veggies and fresh foods, junk foods can really make you feel sluggish, slow and sick.
You may get uncomfortably gassy, thirsty, sleepy, or even anxious. All of these are really typical side effects of eating highly processed and sugary foods, especially if you haven’t had them for a while.
Also, let them know that you’re making a conscious effort to add more veggies into your diet. Mention that you’ve been slacking in it lately, and want to get your greens back in.
If your friends are active and are working out themselves as well, explain them that when you eat well, your workouts are so much better too. Even if they’re working out themselves doesn’t mean that their diet is on point. You can tell them that the way you eat helps you to recover faster and get you ready to crush your next workout, and they may even get curious about your diet.
Know Why You’re Doing What You’re Doing
Keep in mind the reasons why you’re eating the way you eat. You know that in order to train hard, sleep well, focus well and keep your body fit and healthy, you need to eat a good diet.
Again, that doesn’t mean always saying “no” to all the treats and turning down everything that isn’t homemade, organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO or whatever else your criterion for healthy foods may be. Occasional treats are fine, but you need to learn to say “no” once in a while.
Don’t Bring the Diet Up
The easiest thing you can do to avoid others commenting on your food choices is not to draw too much attention to them yourself. In most parties and get-togethers, there are at least a few things that fit into your diet, and as long as you keep something on your plate, people won’t even notice what you’re having and what you’re not.
Don’t ruin that by commenting how there’s nothing to eat there and how much healthier you eat at your own home.
So many people don’t know how to eat healthy, and many people don’t even care. While it may be hard to see all that and not say anything, most of the time it’s better to keep it to yourself.
The worst thing that you could do is to judge other people’s eating habits. You don’t want yours being judged either, right?
If Your Family Judges You
It can be much more difficult if your family doesn’t like your (new) healthy diet. Dealing with family is even harder than with colleagues and friends, because your family are the people you probably spend the most time with and share the most meals with.
They may say things like:
“We’ve always had take-out pizza while watching a movie, what’s the problem now?”
“Since when do we eat salads for dinner?”
“There are vegetables on this pizza/pasta/hamburger/etc., that makes it healthy, right?”
If you used to eat quite a bit of junk food and not so many veggies, fruit, and other fresh foods, it’s important to understand that this “new you” is new to your family as well. It may be hard to understand for them why you changed and even why you want to break some family rituals, like digging into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while watching your favorite TV show.
If that’s the case, try the following:
Explain. Adults should understand why we need to get veggies, fruits, lean proteins and other whole foods into our diet. Explain that eating those foods really make the difference in how you feel and how you look. And because it’s your family, I’d be more pushy with them. Convince them to try them too, because it will make them feel the same way.
Tell them how healthy eating can help them too. If your spouse feels sluggish, slow and has no energy throughout the day and also possibly has weight issues, try to (kindly) explain to them that those things could be avoided by a better diet.
Because you know it’s true—from losing weight, to getting rid of acne, to thinking clearer, to crushing your workouts, they can all be improved by making changes into your diet.
Make a deal. Have your spouse to commit to the new, healthier diet for two to four weeks. Make gradual changes—there’s hardly a shortcut from extra cheesy pizza to steamed spinach. Easing in gradually will give you the chance to prove that healthy eating can actually taste good.
Take it or leave it. One of the reasons why you may want to be in charge of the grocery shopping and cooking at home is that this way you get to choose what you make. Others can simply take it or leave it. Making several meals for everyone is difficult and extremely time consuming. Just put your foot down on this—if your other family members don’t want to eat what you’ve made, they can make something they like better.
After all, you’re trying to feed them healthy food because you want what’s best for them.
It’s a Lifestyle, Not a Diet
The most important thing to remember is that healthy eating is a lifestyle—not a short term project. Everyone has treats once in awhile, but being consistent and eating healthy most of the time is what matters the most.
It can be tough to stick to your healthy eating habits around people who don’t understand or care about healthy eating, but it is doable. Keep in mind why you’re eating and drinking the way you do, and why you avoid things that aren’t good for you.
Because food is fuel, and when you fuel your body right you’ll kick ass at both your workouts and life!
Kersten Kimura is a NASM PT, kettlebell enthusiast and a fan of HIIT workouts. After relocating from chilly Estonia to California, she has taken full advantage of the area and works out outdoors whenever possible. You can find her throwing around her sandbag or swinging kettlebells at local parks, or sprinting along the gorgeous Bay Trail.
Find out more about Kersten here and sign up for her newsletter to get her one week equipment free workout plan and seven simple dinner recipes.