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Food Pushers: How to navigate people we love but...

There are different ways people show love and appreciation. Because food is a common love language, eating primarily plants can become more of a challenge when faced with spoken and unspoken pressure to say yes to food pushers. Daily battles can diminish with a few communication and mind-set tips.


  • Real Food Recipes: Monkey & Me Kitchen Adventures offers plant-based mac + cheese recipes. LINK

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  • Feeding Families: Forks Over Knives discusses what to do when your family eats animals. LINK



Food Pushers

(eat this because I love you)


 

Cultural realities are sometimes like wet cement under our feet.

     We can sink in, as many of us do, or we can fight to get free. This is a daily occurrence, and these “reality is how we do things around here” moments are everywhere. At work, school, home, places of worship, clubs, sports teams, meet-ups, and just about every place where and every time when people come together. If we go with the cultural flow, our experiences will most likely be more pleasurable. But if we set up clear boundaries that are out of the usual societal comfort zones, then it seems that obstacles, guilt, misunderstandings, judgements, and awkward moments follow. Even when we’re not thinking any negative thoughts, just the fact that we are going against ANY status quo is cause for alarm. Oh no, there goes another Cookhouse Hero, eating greens, berries, and broccoli… again! The choice to eat beans in a sea of burgers takes courage. It requires more fortitude than many of us realize when we begin our plant-powered adventure. 


When we finally hit our Total Resolve (whatever that looks like for each of us), we'll find a way to pull our heavy boots out of the cement and move forward. No matter what.


Our unique "no matter what" is key... and really, really challenging.


     So... here's mine. I'm a 95-5 WPF advocate. I’m not vegan. I don’t eat much faux-vegan food. I'm a mostly recovered food junkie. And the 5% of my diet might consist of small amounts of iodized salt or white sushi rice or thin-crust pizza margherita or hot sake on special occasions. There it is. That's me. At first, I couldn't relate to people who are ethical vegan activists or strict nutrition enthusiasts or junk-faux food vegans or everything in moderation folks. Then, I started to see how unique each journey is, as well as how long-short-easy-difficult things can be depending on our unique situation, goal, resources, support systems, and our primary WHY. For me, when I recognized that my brain rebels against anything resembling an absolute, I realized that my No Matter What is uniquely mine. Nobody else needs to understand it. Nobody has to agree with it. And here's the most important thing I've learned so far: coming to this point of clarity in my own food adventure was a powerful game-changer. It’s SO essential that, without this AH-HA moment of setting up a clear boundary with people about our diet and lifestyle choices, I don’t see a path towards success. Unless, of course, we have plans to live on an island. You know, like, alone. We can also think of it like this: our friends, family, co-workers etc have an unspoken expectation that we'll accept their diet and lifestyle choices. So, I ask: what's the difference?


But what does this have to do with food pushers?


 These are people who love us. People who maybe feel guilty about their own diet. People who most likely don’t understand our strange lifestyle choices. People who perhaps want to party with us and celebrate something cool with traditional food favs. So many reasons. 


     There are also various types of food pushers, from those who relentlessly push food in front of us to people who leave food out in case we might want something to nosh on. In the easiest scenarios, simply saying no, thanks can work wonders. Then, go ahead and change the subject. In more contentious environments, it’s not enough to say no. You see, when a food pusher wants to win, they're good at getting their way. And... this is the time to unapologetically pull our feet out of the sloshy cement and fearlessly tell the truth. Yes, I eat primarily plants. Yes, I get enough protein because all plants have protein. No, I’m not vegan. No, I usually don’t eat Impossible Burgers or oat-milk ice cream. Yes, I was able to reverse a chronic disease and lose a lot of weight without counting carbs or calories. No, I'm not an animal activist. Yes, I agree that consuming dairy and animals is creating chronic health conditions; I also think it's unkind for food animals and damaging for eco-systems. Yes, eating primarily plants is challenging at first and then food tastes unbelievable. No, it's not expensive and in fact is cheaper than before I transitioned to a 95-5 WPF diet. Yes, I feel fabulous...


What to do?

     There are many pieces of advice on this tricky subject. Some say be direct, be more verbal, and maybe try being unapologetic. Others have sadly given up and aren’t eating as nutritiously as they’d like. Some people have stuck to their No Matter What mind-set. Yet others might not join community gatherings or friends + family traditions as much as they wish, because they're avoiding food pushers and awkward moments. For me, I tend to use transparency and humor, which seem to work much of the time. For aggressive types who absolutely need us to eat a fried chicken wing because it's so delish, we can try to walk away as quietly as possible and/or change the subject in a clever way. If possible.


For the rest, the truth might look something like:


  • Yeah, going plant-based felt limiting for me at first, but then I discovered actual flavors because my taste buds finally woke up. As a chef, that's the best part of the WPF universe. Amazing.

  • I learned that I didn't have to count carbs and calories and it worked; I reversed a chronic disease, lost a lot of weight, and now eat a wide variety of foods. My grocery bill went down, too. Amazing. 

  • I imagine it must seem strange to see people eating just plants, huh? It’s like we’ve collectively lost our minds. But really, it’s the smartest thing I’ve ever done. And now, it’s becoming a natural habit. Amazing.


Then… change the subject. Keep in mind that not everyone shares our enthusiasm for endive. Please... don't give up, continue to say no, thanks to food pushers, and never stop talking about how awesome apples actually are.


Click on the links below to find out more about gracefully navigating people we love but...




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