7

votes

How do you respond to people who say they're healthy on a grain-based, vegan, or other bad diet?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created June 20, 2011 at 7:06 AM

I'm sorry to admit it but I'm just some evil guy that likes to help people. I get in arguments all the time with people about what diet is the best, but almost always people say they feel fine, healthy, and energetic on their diet, which is anywhere from full of whole grains, soy, or full-on vegan.

How do you respond to that, to try to help them? I know some of you guys wouldn't have started paleo if you felt good on your previous diet.

6235e0b7e3c4c4b9df3d926829bc32f6

(333)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:47 PM

adding to ben's comment: make sure you have enough research/reading under your belt that you can intelligently give rebuttals to their arguments. Very embarassing when you don't have the answer...makes me feel like a fool haha

D42879f1b49ff45ed74a387e1e21fe43

(40)

on June 20, 2011
at 07:08 PM

i think talking about your diet with others is akin to talking sex, politics, and religion - not something you should do in polite company. seriously though, it can be too emotional of a topic for ~95% of the population. who needs that hassle?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 20, 2011
at 06:14 PM

Upvote for very nice answer. To do otherwise, makes you a Food Fascist.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on June 20, 2011
at 05:10 PM

+1 for not being dogmatic about it. Some people don't need to change their diet. Some do... but some don't.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:11 PM

Firstly, the use of multiple parenthesis and brackets is uber awesome, dude! I do recommend pairing them properly - I guess that's my fetish as a computer programmer... And way to get all ee cummings with the lowercase. +1 for evolved to run on cookies idea!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:02 PM

Reminds me of the old joke: You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think. (only works in the printed version)

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:00 PM

+1 Well said!

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on June 20, 2011
at 01:59 PM

Ben, that's exactly how I feel...cut the crap and it just so happens Paleo is pretty much what you're left eating.

B7fec4bf394de8dfa6403067aea94e1b

(1546)

on June 20, 2011
at 12:53 PM

+1 for mentioning that paleo is itself work. It's a lifestyle, and you can't just thrive off of pre-packaged foods and online calorie calculators. You have to be willing to deal with food in an often very new way, to listen to your body's needs and make them priorities in way many of us aren't used to - what do you mean go to bed when you're tired? Vegetarianism and veganism, even when scoffed at, still are admired for supposedly giving the adherent nobility or discipline, whereas a quick glance at "eating like a caveman," doesn't have the same style...yet.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 20, 2011
at 12:08 PM

decent rule: never talk about your diet or exercise regimen until you've done it for one year. Otherwise you come off as naive, which you prolly are. We've all done it but practice restraint.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 20, 2011
at 12:07 PM

here here. i never really felt "bad" per se. I was never overweight, always active, etc. But i never ate really processed crap, either. Again, its not that eating paleo is the key I believe, but rather NOT EATING processed food.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:45 AM

They just keeping paying their co pays for a reason when they come see me with the same problems over and over again.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 11:39 AM

+1 for no preaching and realizing that we don't want to be preached at and neither does anyone else. As you say, the shutters just go up. Wasted breath, end of game...I love the way your simple explanation too..on a continuum..."basic rules and the rest is up to you!"

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 11:35 AM

+1 - Teachable moments! Wonderful posts. We get nowhere by argumentative, aggressive approaches and everywhere by becoming models of change/health and patiently identifying and taking advantage of those teachable moments.

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:07 AM

p.s. I forgot. I'm actually 69. I feel much much younger since going paleo almost a year ago.

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:06 AM

Good for you, Deborah. I tend to go off at length when anybody, especially family, notice that I've lost weight. I don't wait to let them ask how I did it. I have embarrassed myself. I pulled up my shirt to show my husbands neice my middle which although slim is not particularly attractive. I'm 68. I imagine her horror at my behaviour. I'm going to try to just be "responsive if asked." Thank you for your input and good luck to you on your journey through paleo/primal land.

Medium avatar

(572)

on June 20, 2011
at 10:59 AM

Bravo! "The whole paleo thang can be overwhelming" Man, this is truer than true.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on June 20, 2011
at 08:17 AM

Spoken like a true Paleo Hacker ;)

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on June 20, 2011
at 08:16 AM

Spoken like a true "paleoe" ;)

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on June 20, 2011
at 08:16 AM

Exactly ! Moderate Christians turn to Popes when you say that God doesn't exist. Good first post ;)

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19 Answers

31
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on June 20, 2011
at 07:35 AM

i don't tell others how to live. arguing is bad for my cortisol levels.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on June 20, 2011
at 08:16 AM

Spoken like a true "paleoe" ;)

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on June 20, 2011
at 08:17 AM

Spoken like a true Paleo Hacker ;)

22
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 20, 2011
at 10:52 AM

I know quite a few people who seem to do fine on an industrial diet. They eat "healthy", including meat/veg/fruit and cookies/pizza/beer etc. Thin, active with parents in their 80's who do the same. I would probably eat that way too, if I could get away with it - but I can't.

At a party this weekend - my wife is a Lutheran Kindergarten teacher and this was the annual end-of-the-year BBQ for faculty/staff/school board - you can imagine how well the evolutionary perspective goes over on this crowd (which is the crowd for most of my social events) - three interesting things happened:

  1. One of the school board members is paleo by crossfit (Wolff/Cordain) and asked me if I thought tapioca paper was paleo. I told him that I thought tapioca was considered a safe starch and would probably be fine. (I may have to double check that...)

  2. Some of the women wanted to know what a gall bladder does and turned to me. My wife said "Don't you know better than to ask him questions?" But I was able to give them a short answer that hinted at the need for cholesterol, without getting preachy.

  3. One of the teachers husbands who I've known for a long time said he had just been diagnosed with T2 diabetes. He's in the Army band and got diagnosed by a doctor at Walter Reed. They gave him no diabetes meds, but put him on a statin even though his cholesterol is not that high! He had a lot of questions about what normal blood sugar is, etc. (Don't these doctors tell their patients anything important?) He also said the diet they gave him recommends 60g of carbs per meal!!! Well, I spent quite a bit of time with him and strongly urged him to get Dr. Bernstein's book.

I guess my point is that you have to know when teachable moments arrive and seize the moment, and know when its a waste of time (don't throw pearls before swine). Not everybody is ready for paleo. Some people need paleo more than others. Most people will listen to one piece of information that seems reasonable, like omega6/3 ratios and inflammation or maybe the evilz of fructose/HFCS or transfats. The whole paleo thang can be overwhelming - and not everybody is ready for the evolutionary perspective (of course, switching to "ancestral" can help these people get past an emotionally loaded term),

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 11:35 AM

+1 - Teachable moments! Wonderful posts. We get nowhere by argumentative, aggressive approaches and everywhere by becoming models of change/health and patiently identifying and taking advantage of those teachable moments.

B7fec4bf394de8dfa6403067aea94e1b

(1546)

on June 20, 2011
at 12:53 PM

+1 for mentioning that paleo is itself work. It's a lifestyle, and you can't just thrive off of pre-packaged foods and online calorie calculators. You have to be willing to deal with food in an often very new way, to listen to your body's needs and make them priorities in way many of us aren't used to - what do you mean go to bed when you're tired? Vegetarianism and veganism, even when scoffed at, still are admired for supposedly giving the adherent nobility or discipline, whereas a quick glance at "eating like a caveman," doesn't have the same style...yet.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on June 20, 2011
at 05:10 PM

+1 for not being dogmatic about it. Some people don't need to change their diet. Some do... but some don't.

Medium avatar

(572)

on June 20, 2011
at 10:59 AM

Bravo! "The whole paleo thang can be overwhelming" Man, this is truer than true.

14
B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

on June 20, 2011
at 08:11 AM

The funny thing about arguing a point like that with someone who is happy with the way things are is that you are more likely to harden their original position. The best way to approach this is to point out that recent research suggests that whole grains may not be as good for you as was first thought and hope that maybe they'll go do their own research. [my 1st post/comment so go easy on me!]

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on June 20, 2011
at 08:16 AM

Exactly ! Moderate Christians turn to Popes when you say that God doesn't exist. Good first post ;)

8
0640f1b908ffd876f43e5d9d93a63b36

on June 20, 2011
at 07:59 AM

I let them figure it out themselves...I laughed at the paleo diet 10 years ago, been on it the last 6.

7
7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on June 20, 2011
at 04:43 PM

I don't feel the need to "respond to them" because I don't assume that the way I eat is the one true path to health and everyone else that eats a dissimilar diet is either unhealthy or will be soon. Why not just take them at their word when they say they feel great? Not everyone responds to the same foods the same way, and it's not your problem what others eat, though I do understand the urge to cringe when I hear someone say their diet is full of healthy soy, or whatever. But unfortunately, it's just as irritating to argue to someone about how "you say you feel great but all that soy and grain is actually poisoning you!" as it is for us to hear about how all that red meat and animal fat is clogging our arteries and will kill us in short order, and anyway, people never change because of someone else's annoying preaching. No matter how unhealthy they are, if they don't want to change, you're fighting a losing battle.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 20, 2011
at 06:14 PM

Upvote for very nice answer. To do otherwise, makes you a Food Fascist.

7
7f4c64d6caca80c74a6c2d91efa3259b

(831)

on June 20, 2011
at 08:57 AM

Yup, like most of the other respondents so far, don't preach - it just puts people's shutters up (I know it does mine and at that point you won't get anywhere!)

If people ask how I've managed to lose 42lbs in under 5 months without increasing my exercise levels (only everyday walking and stairs) then I'll happily explain that I've cut grain products and reduced sugar intake, with a BRIEF explanation of why and give a couple of examples of what I no longer consume.

If they ask for more then I tend to point them in the direction of a couple of popular websites (Robb Wolf, EverydayPaleo etc.), but also mention that this 'diet' goes under different names and can be as strict or relaxed as you like as long as you try and follow the basic rules. If they want more later then obviously I'm still there for them.

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on June 20, 2011
at 11:39 AM

+1 for no preaching and realizing that we don't want to be preached at and neither does anyone else. As you say, the shutters just go up. Wasted breath, end of game...I love the way your simple explanation too..on a continuum..."basic rules and the rest is up to you!"

6
B1fcaceba952861d0324bdb291edbbe0

(3159)

on June 20, 2011
at 09:12 AM

  1. Assess who the person is in relation to you- friend, parent, sibling, co-worker, child, boss, random person on the street, walmart greeter, mailman, etc

  2. Determine, to the best of your ability, the willingness of this person to listen to a cogently and short-winded explanation of why 'their way' is bad and Paleo is grand.

  3. If, after assessing with 1 and determining with 2, that the person may be willing to listen- procede with an explanation. (Note: this entails you thoroughly researching the topic (which you may already have done so) and truly "knowing your stuff". Have credible references, scientific articles/research, links if they ask or would like to know more, basically, be as scientific and supportive as possible. However, you can also appeal to the person's cognitive style .. depending on how they view the world ... this would need more explanation ...)

  4. Let the information settle in. If they would like to counter with their diet's plea, I would advise just listening.

  5. You did what you could. I want to help people too ... there is only so much you can do ...

Good luck. :)

5
B7fec4bf394de8dfa6403067aea94e1b

on June 20, 2011
at 12:40 PM

I've shared paleo secrets with my sister and brother, both of whom have similar health problems, and they're not really interested. That's fine. I've also talked about it at length with a friend of mine with celiac disease, and she think it's extreme. Fine. I explained to a co-worker how paleo keeps my diabetes naturally under control and was told I'm "overthinking it." The greatest teachers - Buddha, Jesus, Ghandi, our ancestors - also taught by example, and you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

I personally would rather not talk or argue about it, because then it puts me under the microscope, with people asking me why I am eating something if I allow myself a cheat meal or why I am not going to work out on a day I normally would, or what's in my grocery bag when I come home, leaving me standing in the hall with a cow tongue and heart getting warm explaining how they're actually pretty good, or why I don't want to go to Costco with them because I don't eat peanut butter, etc... Right now, I could be an example based on the weight I've lost, but I'd rather not pile the additional pressure on myself of being a spokeswoman.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:02 PM

Reminds me of the old joke: You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think. (only works in the printed version)

4
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on June 20, 2011
at 12:31 PM

For help to be helpful it has to come from a place where people feel respected. I understand wanting to help people, but I remind myself that respecting others choices as I would have them respect mine is the foundation, after that level of mutual respect is built people might ask, until that moment their choices are not something I want to question. The only diet I get to question is my own.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:00 PM

+1 Well said!

4
1bd4ea62097aa99c8cbef8aa5d02db77

on June 20, 2011
at 12:09 PM

For me, having things shoved in my face unsolicited is the fastest way to make me not care about what you say, so I tend to assume that other people think that way until shown otherwise. I agree with the other replies; you can offer a brief tidbit of information (such as the research shedding new light on the health of whole grains) and let them look it up themselves. If the person comes to you for more advice after that, feel free to help them and share all the information on paleo you can, but only if they ask first.

4
C074eec3b3c0325ef3018a128111823a

(1012)

on June 20, 2011
at 09:13 AM

You know what, they very well may be healthy and happy on such a diet. I was for >25 years.

While many people do find Paleo because of various intolerances or other problems, it's not the only reason to switch.

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on June 20, 2011
at 01:59 PM

Ben, that's exactly how I feel...cut the crap and it just so happens Paleo is pretty much what you're left eating.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on June 20, 2011
at 12:07 PM

here here. i never really felt "bad" per se. I was never overweight, always active, etc. But i never ate really processed crap, either. Again, its not that eating paleo is the key I believe, but rather NOT EATING processed food.

3
Dbb6872f139877fe1a94aeb471baa7d1

on June 22, 2011
at 03:20 AM

"Well, this is what works for me/keeps me at my most healthy."

I'm a type 1 diabetic, so I can "get away" with saying that because people automatically assume that I have different needs than them.

If people ask for information, I give it. If not, I wind up getting lectured and since calling my highly educated colleagues brain-washed wouldn't really fly, I just let it go.

3
03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on June 20, 2011
at 03:18 PM

I don't teach unless I'm asked, and then I keep it as short as possible. You can't help people until they're ready. The conventional wisdom on diet is drilled into them every day, over and over, by friends, doctors, magazines, TV, restaurant menus, food labels, government, and pretty much everyone and everything they come into contact with. One person -- even a respected person -- doesn't stand a chance against all that unless your lecturee has come to a point where they're ready to reject conventional wisdom and seek out the truth.

The hardest time to resist is when I see kids eating a crap diet. Especially when their parents say, "Well, it doesn't seem to be hurting them." As if being thin and energetic when you're 16 is proof that your diet isn't damaging. I always want to whip out an old photo album, and say, "Whaddya know, your mom and dad were just as thin and healthy-looking as you when they were 16! They weren't born fat, and if they could get to 300 pounds later in life, you can just as easily." (Maybe more easily, if some of the new ideas about passing gut problems through the womb are true.)

3
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:07 PM

Arguing with a SAD eater over diet is like arguing with an alcoholic about that drink in their hand, it goes nowhere fast. If someone is truly interested in changing their dietary habits and ask sincere questions then I give them a basic idea of paleo and refer them to some good web sites to do their own research, after that if they really want to learn more an d want to hear about what it is like day-to-day then they can ask any questions of me that want, but I do warn them of a simple rule I live by 'do not ask a question unless you want to hear the answer'.

3
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:48 AM

if you need a hack for being able to abstain from "getting in arguments" (if whatever you may say will only aggravate your counterparts) you may assume a 'selfish bastard' attitude and think of paleo as the secret / esoteric knowledge you would want to keep for yourself)))

besides, if someone is some sort of genetic prodigy or [let us suppose it as a mental exercise] belongs to a new 'progressive' 'neolithically evolved' species of human race, and are fine with their "industrial diet" - perhaps they are really fine, and do not need any change to begin with [[[how i wish my body were able to run on cookies just as fine as on paleo fare]]]

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on June 20, 2011
at 02:11 PM

Firstly, the use of multiple parenthesis and brackets is uber awesome, dude! I do recommend pairing them properly - I guess that's my fetish as a computer programmer... And way to get all ee cummings with the lowercase. +1 for evolved to run on cookies idea!

3
Medium avatar

on June 20, 2011
at 10:55 AM

I am just beginning my grokking, but want to answer this.

I can be that guy as well and frankly, I can be annoying.

Years ago, when my momma was alive, she lost a significant amount of weight. She then spent all of her time trying to convert other fatties to do the same.

I do believe people ran from her when they saw her at events. :)

My goal this go-around is to only be responsive if asked anything and I want to perfect that Paleo/Primal elevator speech. I want to come up with the 'thing' that will make someone want to check all of this out like it made me want to check it out.

I'm working on it.

~~~~~~~~~~

Edited to add: I meant 'fatties' in the most nurturing way possible. No disrespect. And I am one!

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:07 AM

p.s. I forgot. I'm actually 69. I feel much much younger since going paleo almost a year ago.

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on June 20, 2011
at 11:06 AM

Good for you, Deborah. I tend to go off at length when anybody, especially family, notice that I've lost weight. I don't wait to let them ask how I did it. I have embarrassed myself. I pulled up my shirt to show my husbands neice my middle which although slim is not particularly attractive. I'm 68. I imagine her horror at my behaviour. I'm going to try to just be "responsive if asked." Thank you for your input and good luck to you on your journey through paleo/primal land.

2
Fe6e37f8d4c49de1ecbc926c8900cd54

on June 20, 2011
at 01:53 PM

I understand your impulse to help completely. I have a friend who has struggled with weight issues and body image issues and eating disorders ever since I've known her. She was pretty overweight when I first met her, then essentially stopped eating for a couple of years and became pretty underweight, and now she's on a "healthy, organic, whole-grain, vegetarian diet," and she's put on quite a bit of weight again (which in some ways is a good thing--it means she's actually eating). I would love to help her, because I know the place that she's in is dark, and frustrating, and could be reversed easily. But after getting shut down twice on the matter, I realize that arguing the point isn't conducive to the helping goal.

I agree with what a few others have said--being an example is far more persuasive than any verbal argument. I'm fit, and happy, and I maintain these things without a painful diet or a ridiculous exercise regime. Eventually, when she realizes exactly how effortless and rewarding this lifestyle is, she'll start asking questions.

(But as a sidenote, since I do love a good argument, should one present itself: To respond to the people who say that they feel awesome on their whole-grain hippie diets, you might think of the little problems that paleo fixed that you didn't even know you had. Like feeling bloated after meals, or gas, or stomach cramps, or feeling hungry all the time, or acne--things that most people think of as normal, part-of-life irritations, rather than as symptoms of a bad diet. Those are pretty persuasive points.)

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on August 15, 2013
at 02:59 PM

In the end, there will be healthy people on a diet that is rich in grains. If your genes come from the Middle East, you have had twice the time to adapt compared to the time my Central European genes had. Ikaria and Loma Linda point to health associated with daily intake of wheat, though I would not be able to take that. I accept that there are people more tolerant of grains than I am. I doubt that there is anyone truly able to tolerate margarine, vegetable oils, and sugar, though.

0
Cf4576cbcc44fc7f2294135609bce9e5

on December 24, 2011
at 05:25 AM

My diet is an all you can eat diet, is your diet all you can eat? i win every time.

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