Whenever a friend or family member (or Facebook friend) mentions starting a new diet – vegan, vegetarian, paleo, Atkins, whatever – there’s always a knee jerk reaction to say “Diets don’t work!” Those of us who’ve made peace with our eating habits are the first to scoff and say things like, “Just eat less crap” or “Just eat less” or even “You’re going to gain it all back.” But here’s the thing – how many diets did it take us to reach these conclusions? How many times did we “start over” with our diet or choke down salad 500 times a day? Some of us were born into families with happy balances with their food and bodies that never needed to “diet.” In reality, though, majority of people struggle with this.
So why should we let our poor friends go through this?
First of all, think of yourself some two, five, ten years ago. For some of you the “Eat less crap” would have been a light bulb moment that lead you into a life of health and happiness. For others, it would have been met with blank stares. Remember the first time you proclaimed you were going on a diet. Imagine if one of your well-meaning friends told you, “You’re doing it wrong, idiot!” How many of you would have taken their advice? How many of you would have punched the jerk in the face?
To a lot of people the journey is really where they pick up invaluable information about themselves. Sometimes it takes going on a ketogenic diet for someone to learn that their body NEEDS carbs (or that going low carb was fantastic for them). Maybe they fall off the wagon because it doesn’t work, but when they decide to diet again they have the background knowledge. They’ve learned that they can’t do diet X against because of Y and Z, so next time they find something else.
It’s this long, often frustrating journey that people have to embark on to gather their own series of experiences to shape their eating and exercise habits in the future. When they eventually find their inner peace it may or may not be with a mainstream diet. Maybe they did just “stop eating crap” or maybe they’ve decided Paleo is perfect for them. Who are we to judge? There are plenty of people who stick to these mainstream diets that we parrot “fail” because it falls in line with their personal preferences. A lot of these diets come with cookbooks and meal plans that can save our friends time, money and energy. They give guidance and direction in a diet industry that throws out so much conflicting information.
Next time a friend goes on a “diet” try to avoid being THAT asshole that tries to convince them otherwise. Let your friends experiment with food and recipes and exercise and be supportive. Let them see how their body reacts to different types of food and support them when they’re low. Don’t try to sabotage them to make a point – they’re your friends! They need to embark on their own journey to reach the same inner peace that you have.