How to Deal with Family after Changing your Eating Habits

young-frightened-black-womanI received an email from Trinity asking:

I am about to go out of town to visit family.  I do not want to offend in any way.  I have changed my eating habits so much since the last time I visited my family.  I know that there will be many opportunities to make healthy food choices;  but at the same time, I don’t want to make anyone feel that I’m, in no way, acting as if I am looking down on them for eating differently.  I can handle questions from non-family members pretty well, but I’m a bit concerned about family.  I think it would be different if I were staying in a hotel, but I will be staying with family.

Thanks, Trinity for your question!

I have replied to Trinity, but I know that everyone goes through this at some time on their journey when making changes to their eating habits.

I have experienced the same thing as Trinity and will give you tips on how to deal family members after changing your eating habits.

Let your family know about your eating habit changes before you arrive.

You will probably call your family to confirm the date and time of your arrival.  It is during this time that you can tell them that you have changed your eating habits and address your concerns.

Let them know that you will bring the kinds of food that you like and you do not want to offend them.

Your family may not understand why you have changed, but it is a good idea to let them know why you cannot eat mama’s fried chicken.

Most people are more than happy to have something for you that you can eat.  You have to let them know before you arrive so that no one feels uncomfortable with the situation.

Keep the focus on you and not on them.

You will get questions about why you do not eat certain foods, especially since you were raised on those foods.

Respond to their questions by focusing on why you do not eat those kinds of foods and keep the focus on you and not them.

If you changed your eating habits for health reasons, let them know that you changed because you have some health issues that you want resolved.

Let your family know that you are doing this for you and that you have no problem with the food they eat.  This is something that you are doing for yourself.

Answer questions without making the others feel uncomfortable.

If you do not eat ham, you do not have to tell your family the specifics of why you are not eating ham.  Just let them know that you have to stay away from it for health reasons.

You could go into the specifics of why you do not eat ham, but why do this when you know that they enjoy eating ham.

Your family has to know that what they eat does not bother you.  That way every one feels comfortable and no one feels like anyone is better than the other person.

Prepare a few dishes and bring them with you, if you can.

If the host does not care, then you can bring your own food.  You might even be able to prepare the food that you like when you get to where you are going.

Most people do not care, especially if you let them know about your eating habits before you arrive.  Communication is very important and most people will go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable.

Do not worry about what others think.

Family can be the toughest folk to deal with, especially when it comes to food.  You must not concern yourself about what they think about your food choices.

If you assure them that you do not care about what they eat and that it does not bother you, then they will not be so quick to say things about the foods that you eat.

Do not get caught up in what they think, because most of the time, it is not that serious.

Keep walking the walk.

There is no need for you tell everyone, that you do not eat this food or that food.  They will get tired of hearing that.

Instead, walk the walk by eating the foods that you choose to eat.  When you walk the walk people take notice.

Walking the walk radiates to the outside and your family will ask you what you are doing, because you look amazing.

Have fun and enjoy your family.

Focus on having fun and enjoying your family.  Celebrations are centered around food, but food is not the most important thing.

Being in the presence of your family, laughing and enjoying the moment is what matters most.

The love, fun and joy that you share with your family is what everyone remembers.  Food is just a piece of the memory and you should never be worried about how others feel about your food choices.

Because at the end of the day, it’s just food and there is no reason why anyone should feel like you are looking down on them.

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

8 Comments How to Deal with Family after Changing your Eating Habits

  1. Kris

    Hi Evelyn,

    Very well said and I love the way you gave advice. You are definitely right, being yourself and being true to others is the best way to deal with whatever situation it is. A family will always be a family; they will love us no matter what as long as we are honest to them. “Because at the end of the day, it’s just food and there is no reason why anyone should feel like you are looking down on them.”

  2. AlexandraFunFit

    As a vegetarian, I’ve been to numerous events where people don’t quite understand. When I first stopped eating meat, I fielded some odd questions and definitely got teased a bit, but eventually they left me alone. I just kept a straight face and didn’t show annoyance when people would eat meat directly in front of me and say things like, “Yum, are you sure you don’t want a bite?” Eventually the family got bored because I didn’t rise to the bait.

  3. Talk to me...I'm your Mother

    I have been careful for a long time but have major changes in the last few months. Still and all, I find that if I don’t call attention to my eating habits, others may not notice. The difficulty is sometimes in finding something that I CAN eat. I’m pretty clear about eating ahead, getting permission and/or bringing what I need without fanfare. If I am offhand about my declaration, “Oh, I’ve made some changes for my health,” and then keep a low profile, it seems to work. Some people are going to take offense because they are working out the difference between what they know and what they do. I can’t help that. Ultimately, it is MY life that is at stake.

    1. Evelyn Parham

      Hello, welcome to my blog!

      Yeah, I tend to do that too, “not bringing attention to my eating habits.” But sometimes people pay close attention to what I put on my plate and the questions start. I used to get this a lot when I was working outside my home. I want to scream to those folks, “stay out of my plate.” :)

      Thanks for stopping by and chiming in!

  4. Trinity

    Thank you so much for the helpful tips. I, especially, like what you said about food only being a part of celebrating with family. For so long, it has been “the” main part of being with family – sometimes friends. I plan to do my best to focus on the things that we have in common as opposed to differences.

    For me, I have noticed a big shift within the past year. I have a feeling that with so much focus on health, more of this attitude will change in the future. I find it so interesting that so many restaurants have jumped on the health bandwagon which ,as you mentioned, makes it easier to select healthier options ! Who would have ever thought that Chik – Fil -A or McDonald’s or would have ever served a salad that actually tastes good? Thanks for writing this post.

    1. Evelyn Parham

      Hi Trinity,

      You are so right about food being the main part of being with family.

      You’ll do well.

      I agree with the you about the shift. People are becoming aware of how they can change things by what they put in their bodies.

      Have a great time!

      Evelyn

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