How to eat healthy when everyone around you doesn’t. This was the premise of a recent email I received.
I’ve been trying to practice healthy exercise and eating habits but everyone else around me is making it super difficult. It feels like I have no support and kinda like everyone is trying to sabotage me.
- My boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife
I really want to make some healthy lifestyle changes but this is really making it difficult. What can I do to stay on track and get those around me to support me or get involved themselves?
I’m lost! Please help.
I get a few emails like this every month and I figured it was about time that I get my act together and write an article on the subject.
A strong social support system is essential for success.
When the people you spend the most time with are not on the same page it can make these changes extremely difficult.
So how can change your life, get healthy, and stay on track towards your goals when the people closest to you are not on the same page?
Buckle up buttercup. We’re covering that in today’s article.
How to eat healthy when everyone around you doesn’t begins with your environment
The environment that you’re in is the biggest determining factor in whether or not you’ll be successful. Especially when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle.
For example, if your home is filled with nothing but real food what are you going to eat?
Real food, right? It’s the only option you have.
If you go to work and there are no vending machines, junk food, and the break room only has raw veggies and pre-cooked chicken, what are you going to eat?
Exactly what’s available to you.
One of the first things I ask people to do in my coaching program is a kitchen makeover.
This is a super easy task for someone that’s single or lives on their own but can be a difficult one for those that have kids, are married, live with roommates, or have to share a kitchen.
It’d be easy to stay on track if you threw away all the junk and stocked up on nothing but the good stuff but to throw away your significant others ice cream or the kids favorite snack and the gloves might come off.
Them’s fignt’n words!
I’m sure you’re trying as hard as you can to stay on track but it can be difficult when:
- The only food your kids want to eat is junk food
- Your friends are always inviting you out for drinks and food
- Your spouse is always cooking something not a part of your healthy eating plan
- Your coworkers are always bringing in unhealthy snacks and leaving them in the break room for everyone to snack on
- Someone is always making something special and asking you to try some.
If work or home is not totally cool with you performing a kitchen or break room makeover. Ask if they can help to support you by making certain foods tougher for you to get to.
- Store foods not a part of your plan in separate cabinets or sections of the fridge
- If you can afford it pick up another fridge and place it in the garage to store foods that might tempt you.
The most important thing is to ask and communicate how important this is to you.
How to eat healthy when everyone around you doesn’t: Is it because you’re wearing too many hats?
I just finished up a book by Matthew Kelly called Off Balance: Getting Beyond The Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction. The book addresses how difficult it can be to excel in one area of your life if other areas also need your attention. The more responsibilities you get the harder it becomes.
It’s easy to get healthy when it’s the only thing you have to focus on.
Imagine you don’t have kids, a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, no school, no work, no real obligations, and the only thing that concerns you each day is working out and eating right. How confident would you be on a scale of 1 to 10 that you could stay consistent and reach your fitness goals? Probably a 10, right?
However, that’s not how it works. You most likely play most, if not all of those roles now. This means that your attention is spread out over many areas which can make focusing on your health extremely difficult.
When you’re striving for excellence in one area of your life another will most likely suffer because you will not be able to devote as much of YOU towards it.
Unfortunately, health is usually one of the first areas to get neglected. To me, this doesn’t make much sense. How are you supposed to take care of all those other things if you can’t get out of bed?
How to eat healthy when everyone around you doesn’t: Create some ‘me time.’
When you’re wearing so many hats it can feel like you don’t have any time for yourself.
I’m sure most of you have been on an airplane before. What’s one thing that they emphasize in case of an emergency?
To put your oxygen mask on before putting on anyone else’s.
Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It’s important and should be a priority. Creating the best version, the healthiest version, and the fittest version of yourself is also creating the best version for someone else.
The healthiest version of you will be the most energetic, confident, and happiest version of you. You’ll be excited to try new things with loved ones, have more energy to play with your kids, and be more productive at work.
If you don’t have the best support network it can feel like you’re fighting this battle alone.
I just wanted to let you know that you’re not.
Is there anyone else in your life that you can invite to join you on your health quest?
How to eat healthy if everyone is trying to sabotage you
When I first decided to dedicate time to get healthy I was met with resistance.
It felt like family and friends were trying to sabotage me.
- It’s just one bite. It won’t ruin your nutrition plan
- You’ve been working out a ton. Just take tomorrow off, you can miss a day.
- I like the way you are. Why are you trying to change?
- Come on, stay out late tonight and grab drinks with us.
- Justin can’t eat that. He’s not allowed to.
I had to remind myself that their intentions were good or in good fun. When you’re making changes in your life you’re also asking those closest to you to change. Familiarity is safe and secure and when you shake things up it can be uncomfortable and confusing for those that care about you. Here’s what you can do.
1. Communicate how important this is to you
Express that the changes you’re making will help you become the best version of yourself not only for you but for them as well. Provide examples like you’ll have more confidence to go to the beach with them, try new things like hiking and rock climbing, and feel sexier in your own skin for those (keeping it PG) intimate moments.
2. Ask for their support
I’m often surprised by how few people actually ask for the support of those closest to them. You may be met with a little resistance at first but eventually, people will catch on, as long as your persistent.
Let co-workers know about the healthy lifestyle changes that you’re trying to make and that you’d appreciate it if they helped you along the way by keeping certain foods hidden.
Ask your kids to pitch in around the house because Mom or Dad needs a little more time to prep foods and get in workouts.
Ask your friends if they wouldn’t mind not pressuring you to stay out late or grab drinks while you’re together.
3. Do it together
See if anyone wants to join you. They may not eventually but keep asking every month or so to see if anyone would be interested in going for a hike, getting in a workout together, or grabbing a healthy lunch.
This is such a boss way to bond with friends, family, significant others, and your kids. Include them in what you’re doing and let them know that you’d love for them to join you. In fact, families that eat dinners together have been shown to be less likely to be overweight, develop diseases, and are more likely to choose more nutrient-dense food.
4. Lead by example
Let your results speak for themselves. Once you start proving what you’re doing is working I can almost guarantee that people will want to know what you’re doing. Take regular measurements, photos, and log workouts so you can share.
When Ami dropped 30 pounds, everyone wanted to know how he did it. Now he’s sharing his success with everyone at work, showing them workouts they can do during breaks, and taking everyone out for healthy meals.
5. Keep learning
You may be letting your results speak for themselves but there are some that will still meet you with hefty resistance.
- Crossfit is dangerous.
- The Paleo Diet leads to high cholesterol.
- I heard that this and that were bad for you.
The best thing you can do is to keep learning. Read books like this and this. If someone hits you with something and you’re not sure how to answer it. Tell them you’re not sure about it but you’ll be doing some research. Go learn it up and have an awesome conversation after you’ve gained some knowledge.
How to eat healthy if your support system is not very strong
If you’re like most of the population you probably spend the majority of your time at work, home, and with a significant other. So let’s focus on how to stay healthy in those environments.
While at work
Always have healthy food available.
- Smoked Salmon: Make sure it is soy-free
- Nuts: Emphasize macadamia, hazelnut, and almonds
- Raw veggies: Celery, broccoli, Bell peppers, cucumber, etc…
- Fruits: Emphasize berries (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, etc..) limit tropical fruit as much as possible (ie: banana, mango, papaya, pineapple, etc..)
- Grass-fed jerky: Usually will have to order or get at the farmers market. Store-bought stuff has all kinds of junk.
- Hard-boiled eggs: Store in a cool place
- Olives: Goes well with raw veggies, hard cheeses, smoked salmon
- Canned salmon or tuna: Use in a lettuce wrap, mix with avocado, or olives
Avoid the break room and certain people who make it difficult for you to stay on track. Instead, take breaks by going outside for a walk why yourself or with someone who supports you’re a healthier lifestyle.
You can also opt for embracing it. Some people like to just go right into the eye of the storm. If you’re feeling bold walk right into that break room, sit down with that box of donuts in front of you, and just stare at each other.
Use the index card method
I love this technique. It’s so simple yet so effective for dealing with cravings. If you’re thinking about a certain food right down what and why you want it followed by this phrase.
If I want to eat _____________ (food) tomorrow I will CHOOSE to eat it.
What goes in your mouth is your choice. No one else’s.
Family, friends, and social pressure
Get your drink on… sorta: Fake it! Ask the bartender for a club soda with a lime and tiny straw in it. No one will know. Shhhhhhhhhh, it’s our little secret.
Bring your own grub: Bring some healthy options for you when you head out. You can keep them on you or have them waiting in the car. Raw veggies, jerky, an apple are some easy to take with your options. Ziplock bag those bad boys and you’re good to go.
Skipping a meal isn’t the worst idea and is surely not going to kill you. If you’re off to a party where there are not any healthy foods to eat just pass and wait until you get home.
Have a meal ready when you get home: You may get home and be ready to devour anything and everything in front of you. If you already have a healthy meal ready to roll it will make opening up a package or diving into a box less likely.
Speak up and change the order: If you’re out at a restaurant with friends or family, speak up and ask the waiter or waitress to make some substitutions for you. You’re not being difficult, it’s a very simple request and as someone who waited tables for years it’s no problem to have that done for you.
- Instead of the loaded potato ask for an extra side of steamed veggies
- Pass on the bread basket and see if they can bring out a plate of veggies
There are plenty of healthy swaps you can make. Build your plate around a source of protein, veggies, and healthy fat and you’ll be good to go. If the serving they bring you is a huge ask for a to-go box right away and put some in it before you get your grub on.
Try something new
I love checking out a new restaurant, grabbing some sushi with friends, or trying different food trucks here in LA LA land but there are so many other ways to be social with the people you care most about.
- Rock climbing
- Bike rides
- Farmers markets
- Art Walks
- Bungee jumping
- Playing catch
If you need some help thinking of some cool activities to do check out Charlie’s list from his book Play It Away.
Actually try a bit: A friend of yours might be super proud of a recipe they put together and really want you to try some. Go ahead and have a bite. Just let them know how important sticking with your nutrition plan is to you but that you’d love to try some.
Your significant other
This may be the most sensitive of them all. How can you practice living a healthy lifestyle when the most important person in your life isn’t totally on board?
You don’t have to break the bank: Finances are always a big issue for couples but eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. Improving your nutrition habits doesn’t mean you have to eat organic, grass-fed, and all that jazz. There’s really only 12 foods that you need to consider buying organic anyhow.
You may be spending more at the grocery store now because you’ll simply be doing more shopping and preparing meals at home but you’ll also be eating out much less. Put in a little work and calculate the difference between the two to show your S.O.
If they’re worried about you shelling out money each month for a gym membership can you compromise and workout at home?
Are there other financial threats that you’ll need to discuss?
Don’t force the issue. There’s no reason to try to force them to change with you. Give them time to come around, invite them periodically to come workout with you or to try a new healthy dish you’ve made. If they’re not interested don’t make a big deal out of it. Remember, it may have taken you years to come around and build your own healthy habits. Give them a chance to grow into it as well.
Put in some volunteer hours
Kindly suggest that you feel your S.O. has worked so hard lately and you’d like to pitch in a bit. Offer to do the grocery shopping, a little more of the cooking, or offer to choose the restaurant when you’re heading out for a bite to eat. This will give you an opportunity to choose some healthier options for both of you.
If they make some changes with you then reward them: Everyone likes to be rewarded. If you notice them being more active, making small changes to their diet, or asking you about what you’ve been up to let them know in some way how proud you are.
Don’t get defensive: This might be the worst thing that you can do. If you’re met with resistance remind yourself that you can not control the thoughts and actions of other people. The only thing you can control is how you react. If you feel like a conversation is getting to this point simply change the subject or ask if it’d be ok to discuss this at another time.
How to eat healthy when everyone around you doesn’t and where to go from here.
Your health and wellness should complement your life and not take it over. Exercise and food should be things that you are able to share with the people you care the most about.
They should bring you closer together and not drive you apart.
The point of having a strong social circle that includes family, friends, husbands, wives, boyfriends, and girlfriends is so that each of you can help each other grow and become better human beings. In my humble opinion, the healthiest version of you is the best version of you.
This can be a very sensitive subject that’s why I’d love to hear from any of you that are currently struggling with your support network. Or, if any of you have one that is SUPER strong.