Anytime you want follow a change to your diet in pursuit of better health, everybody around you assumes that you are depriving yourself of the fun they are having by eating whatever they want. This widely prevalent attitude, especially from your own friends and family, can be more difficult to overcome than any food changes.
I am sure you will relate to this story that my seventh-grade language teacher told us one day. He used to share interesting stories to keep us engaged and entertained. Most were humorous social commentaries that we could connect to. This timeless story, which probably plays out over and over in every culture, still brings a smile to my face.
It goes somewhat like this: Let’s say you are visiting a family friend and you really want to have a cup of tea. The best way to make sure that you will get that cup of tea is to announce as soon as you arrive, “I quit drinking tea”. Then it becomes your host’s moral duty to make sure you get a cup of tea no matter what. You repeatedly decline somewhat half-heartedly, until you finally concede. “Okay, this one time,” you say, and then proceed to happily enjoy the tea to the delight of your hosts.
What about if you end up having to give up something you really love to eat because of health reasons? You think the situation changes? Not really. Remember that your so-called friends assume you are being DEPRIVED of something enjoyable. So they will still pretty much force you to eat what you’ve renounced “just this once.”
Let’s say you are trying hard to give up something to which you have developed an addiction, say smoking. Unfortunately, the same behavior seems to apply.
Consider the following actual event:
I was driving to work one day, when the car in front of me stopped at a green light (not a red light) for no apparent reason. There was a homeless lady at the crosswalk with her cart. My first thought was, “This nice guy has stopped to help the lady cross the road. Or at least he is going to give her the meal he just bought from the drive-thru.”
No, none of that happened. This guy in front of me stopped his car and ran over to the side of the walkway to give her, get this, a lighted cigarette. I almost wanted to get out the car myself and smack him silly. No doubt he feels good about his actions because he thinks this poor lady was, of all the things, DEPRIVED of the fun of smoking.
When it comes to this mindset, the level of education doesn’t seem to matter one bit. People are not considerate of the health needs of others regarding these types of issues. I recently ran into a longtime friend of mine at a wedding. It was sad see him in failing health, but after many years of smoking he was now trying very hard to quit. I happened to walk out of the wedding hall to take a phone call. To my horror, I found this guy surrounded by his other so-called friends who were feeding him cigarettes. These guys didn’t want their buddy to be deprived of the fun they were having, his health and life be dammed. Not to mention that they were making it even harder for him to quit smoking instead of helping him to overcome this addiction.
Following healthy habits of any kind will frequently cause you to become an outcast, especially if you are pursuing them on a preventive basis. That is a given in the present social climate. So what? You should be following healthy dietary habits so you don’t end up with preventable diseases such as cholesterol build-up in your arteries. You don’t want to wind up in the hands of heart surgeons like me and have to suffer through all that we do.
When eating healthily, you are not depriving yourself of all the acquired artificial tastes of damaging foods. Instead you are sparing yourself the painful and costly consequences of careless eating habits. So be firm in your conviction. Stand your ground and tell yourself, “Deprived? Not me.”