Eating Plant-Based and Socializing

I want to share a chapter that I read in the book called “The Pleasure Trap” by Douglas J. Lisle, Ph.D. and Alan Goldhamer, D.C. It is about preparing yourself for the inevitable moments of psychological discomfort when you embark on a new health-promoting journey eating plant-based.

The following is paraphrased from Chapter 9 of “The Pleasure Trap”…

First, imagine you have a teenage son or daughter (or maybe you do!). Imagine that your teenager attends a party, and their friends begin to use cocaine. You would hope that your teenager can make the right decision and be different. It is important for them to say “no!” to the cocaine regardless of the social consequences. Similarly, the same logic holds true for your dietary and lifestyle practices. With the right tools, you can improve your ability to resist social pressure.

Sometimes our family, friends or acquaintances can be uninformed, misinformed, or just down-right want to sabotage our efforts to be healthy! So, you need a plan for dealing with them. Preparing yourself in advance for how you will respond to social pressure is vital to your success.

Socializing Problem #1:

Managing the misinformed (about plant-based eating) – these are people who know little about nutrition health and are trying to get us to conform to their conventional behavior. As a result, they become uncomfortable when they see you eating plant-based and avoiding the foods they like to eat. They may say things like: “My body needs red meat – I can’t live without steak!” or “Where do you get your protein?” or “How do you get enough iron?”.

Here are some examples of your diplomatic response:

  • “That’s what I used to think, but this new way of eating seems to be working for me right now.”
  • “My doctor says that I am getting everything I need, and she is monitoring my health.”
  • “I am planning to stick with it so long as I continue to feel so good.”

Socializing Problem #2:

Managing the irritated – these are often people we love who do not want to join us on the path to healthy living and actively try to pull us off course. Their influence can be destructive, but because we love these people, it can create conflict in our relationship with them. For instance, they may say things like: “Oh, come on, one bite won’t kill you!” or “Have some, I made it just for you!”.

This kind of situation requires a different tactic. It is important to make them feel that they have not lost status with you. In other words, try and find another way to boost their ego. Above all, you need to act with some humility and not judge their behavior as inferior to your own. This is called “Integrity with Humility”.

social dilemma of eating plant-based

Here are some examples of what you might say:

  • “Oh, thanks for thinking of me! It looks really delicious!”
  • “I am doing really well at the moment, so I’m going to have to pass.”
  • “I just want to keep on course for a while.” 
  • “If I let myself get off track, I will have trouble getting back.”
  • “You go ahead – it does look good – and I’ll have something else.”

Therefore, by learning to anticipate and control social pressure, we can also learn to strengthen our integrity, while communicating our humility. When you achieve this success once, the second time you encounter it, it will become much easier.

Watch Dr. Douglas Lisle talk about The Pleasure Trap

Interested in learning how to improve your health by eating plant-based? Contact me!