With a change in diet comes a lot of emotions and experiences we’ve never had or even expected. One such experience is that of a change in the dynamics of our closest relationships. We may think that a change in our diet routine will only affect ourselves but once we break the news to family and friends we start to see that’s not the case.
A big reason for this is that our family and friends care about us, and if we are changing an important part of our daily routine they may worry about our safety and how this change will affect our relationship with them.
Why does a change in diet trigger such strong reactions? Gathering with people to eat food and socialize is an integral part of every culture. These gatherings are where strong bonds are formed. In light of this, a diet change from how everyone you know eats can cause you to feel isolated when you realize that you are developing new habits around food. This can make social gatherings with those you’re closest to stressful and tense.
The tendency to become isolated can also come from a fear of family and friends making light of our diet change and success. In any case, isolation is not the answer. In fact, isolation will have detrimental affects to our mental and physical health and will derail our efforts at a lifestyle change. On the other hand, it is scientific fact that having and maintaining a social life impacts our health in many positive ways. In light of this information, our family and friends can be a source of great support during the uncomfortable process of change if we decide to lean on them and let them be a part of it.
How do we maintain our closest relationships and be successful in our efforts to change? It’s important to realize that our family and friends may not understand why we are making this change and and in turn may not understand how it important it is for us.
Honest communication will be the key to find out whether our and our families fears are founded in reality or made up. Being honest about your reason for change and how it will affect your family gatherings or visits with friends can lift a weight off everyone’s shoulders. At the very least, everyone will know where you stand and with some open conversation you’ll also end up realizing that your family and friends just want what’s best for you.
Caitlyn Harbottle is a Peace Region nutrition coach.