10 Ways to Deal With the Sugar-Free Shake-Down from Friends & Family
So, what should you do if your friends and family don’t support your decision to change your diet?
You may have chosen to quit sugar, go gluten-free, pay attention to avoiding your food allergies, dive into paleo living, desire to start a ketogenic life, or wish to eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
All of these diet decisions, however seemingly different, have one thing in common: they go against the standard western diet. And, believe me, diet decisions are a super ‘boat-rocker’.
I hear from my new clients time and time again about how confused they are about the lack of support that they receive from their friends or family, just because they made a personal decision to quit sugar.
I have a client named, Meg; she, like many women, has really struggled with her weight and energy level for years. She doesn’t feel good, physically or emotionally, and it’s making her depressed.
Meg decided to start my Sweet Liberation program, to see if her sugar habit was the cause for her weight-gain and lack of energy.
This was the first time that Meg was standing up for her health, and she was so excited to get started. Her decision to quit sugar made her feel empowered and strong — she was ready for the challenge, and to start feeling better.
But, her empowerment didn’t last long. She told her husband and extended family about her decision to learn how to reduce the sugar in her life. She went right into how excited she was to change the way that she ate — there was about to be a total change in her kitchen, and she hoped for a total change in how her body felt.
And, this is what happened…
Meg’s family, particularly her husband, wasn’t supportive of her decision at all. They said that there wasn’t any problem with eating sugar, and she was crazy for wanting to pay for a program that teaches you how to go sugar-free. Her husband was most upset because he didn’t want to have to change his diet, just because she decided to change hers.
This type of situation isn’t uncommon; it happens to about 25% of my clients. And, it makes them question their desires; it makes them want to back out of the program; and, it deflates their power to make decisions about their health for themselves.
And, here’s the sad part…
Drastically reducing added sugar helps everyone. I’m talking about the constant consumption of added sugar like table sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave, coconut sugar, maple syrup, etc. If you are consuming more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day, your energy level will be depleted, and you dramatically increase the likelihood of developing serious health issues like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
Added sugar is empty calories. The more you eat; the more you have to burn it off, or it just turns to fat. Sugar also causes inflammation within the body, which ultimately triggers disease.
Right now, 80% of all manufactured food contains added sugar. So, most people are consuming way more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar each day. In fact, most Westerners are consuming 26 teaspoons of sugar, every day!
In my opinion, the Western diet needs to be seriously disrupted because too many people are getting sick from it. Everyone needs to learn how to reduce their sugar exposure, and the only way to do that is to learn the proven strategies to quit sugar without feeling deprived. Without a plan, it’s very difficult to maintain a change.
All of my clients like, Meg, who enter into the Sweet Liberation program are absolute wellness warriors, and I’m so proud of all of them for standing up for their right to have a vibrant and healthy life — despite their friends and family that act like road blocks.
This is what I tell the Megs of this world…
10 ways to deal with the sugar-free shake-down from friends and family
1. You are the power behind your happiness & health
Ultimately, you are the only one who can invite health and happiness into your life. No one else is going to do it for you because how can they? No one truly knows what you need, except for yourself. Also, cultivating a happy life that includes vibrant health is a process and a practice that requires action. Obtaining your desires will not magically appear at your feet; you cannot passively manifest greatness. You are the one that has to be the captain of your own ship. It’s time to take control.
2. Realize, it’s not about you.
Here’s what I’ve observed over the years. If family and friends seem angry with your decision to change your diet, and they start to belittle you, make fun of you, tell you that you’re being over dramatic, or they constantly prod you to eat the food that you’re trying to avoid, all of these behaviors really have nothing to do with you. The people who are the least supportive are actually the people that don’t have enough courage to make a change in their own lives. So, if they’re not happy, and they’re not willing to make a change, then they will take everyone down with them. Unsupportive people do not want to witness your success. So, if you are surrounded by unsupportive friends and family, be gentle — with yourself and them as well. Keep on your own path. Keep defending your decision, with happiness and joy. Don’t let them bring you down.
3. Be gentle with yourself
Changing a habit is very difficult. And, changing the way that you eat is even more difficult. We are hardwired to crave sugar. Your brain will taunt you to over indulge. You can’t fight nature, but you can certainly develop strategies to combat its force. Learning how to quit sugar is a process, and it’s challenging. So be gentle with yourself. Don’t belittle your effort; you’re worth more than that.
4. Stand-up for yourself
There will be quite a few people that will not understand why you would what to avoid added sugar. Be strong in your choices. If you are questioned, just simply state why you are doing it. Use statements like, ‘I haven’t been feeling good, and I want to fix that’, or ‘I find that sugar really sucks the life out of me, and I don’t want that to happen anymore’. Your decision to quit sugar is important, and no one has a right to convince you otherwise.
5. Don’t avoid social situations
Most people believe that if you don’t eat sugar, you can’t go out to a restaurant or go to a party. That’s totally wrong. I’ve been living added sugar-free for almost 1500 days now (as of October 2015), and I don’t avoid any social situation. But, I also don’t hide that I’m a sugar-free girl. I give people the heads up. If I need to bring food with me, I do it. Restaurants are easy; there’s always something to order. So, celebrate what needs to be celebrated!
6. Share your creations, quietly
I like to bring my sugar-free dessert creations to house parties. I don’t use artificial sweeteners (I don’t believe in chemicals); I make desserts out of fruit and liquid stevia, only. And, no one is the wiser. In fact, I have friends and family asking for the recipes. You don’t have to live chocolate free when you’re sugar-free.
7. Build a community
Social support to leap over obstacles is incredibly important. And, it’s absurd to think that your only base of power and encouragement is your current friends and family. The people in your life right now are not necessarily equipped to handle the transformation that you are enacting: They may not be interested in standing by your side during the process, but there are definitely others who will.
Find your community. Go on Meetup.com and see if there is a group in your area that is into quitting sugar, or eating according to the diet you have chosen. If the group doesn’t exist, start your own! Invite other people to meet up once a month; build a social network of new friends who will support you during your diet transition. Gather like-minded people around you. I cannot stress enough how important this strategy is.
8. Gather evidence
Write down how your body feels before going sugar-free. Then in one-week increments, write down how your body feels. Ask yourself, has anything changed in my energy level, sleep, weight, bloating, or mood? You need to gather evidence to show your brain that sugar-free living is doing you good.
9. Avoid preaching
The key word in self-transformation is ‘self’. I believe that if you are embarking on a new path, it’s best to keep it to yourself. Don’t start harping at other people about the evils of sugar. No one wants to hear you preach. This diet change is only about you and how your body feels. You are quitting sugar for your life, not someone else’s. Only talk about your experience, if you’re asked.
10. Lead by example
My clients always tell me that by week-3 of living sugar-free, friends and family start to ask questions because they witness positive changes happening. My clients start to feel more energized, their mood improves, and they start to lose weight without restricting calories. The happier disposition attracts the attention of the people around you, and they want a bit of it for themselves. I’ve even witnessed unsupportive family members suddenly become interested and supportive because they see such a wonderful change in their sugar-free loved one. Happiness is contagious.