To educate or to not educate random everyday people about food

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 15, 2013 at 9:46 AM

I'm just wondering if anyone else has experienced the same issue as me. Several of my work colleagues as well as friends and family have a very outdated view of what's healthy to eat. For example, in two different discussions with two different people today alone I encountered them stating, "What!? I thought olive oil WAS a vegetable, therefore vegetable oil is good for you" or "I have a dairy intolerance so I just use margarine and it's much healthier than lard or butter". I know it's lack of proper education about food, but my question is, as a paleo/primal eating human- how do you respond? I'm finding it awkward- people often disconnect, disregard, change the subject or give me weird looks. Or you get the odd one that is interested and takes it in. How do you respond to people when you know what they're saying is so far from the truth? Let it go? Correct them (sensitively of course, without putting them on the spot) smile and nod? Walk away?? I'm interested to hear because I find this a huge challenge!

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11 Answers



on August 15, 2013
at 03:04 PM

I make and sell chocolate for a raw vegan company, we use no dairy soy or inorganic products. We use coconut sugar.


We have a macaroon bar that relies heavily on coconut butter and oil. I give out many samples of this bar and everyone is pretty floored by the flavor many people ask me "what about all the saturated fat."

I can tell when the asker is...

A) Not convinced by the fat myth and is looking for my help to explain why coconut is ok

B) Convinced by the fat myth, afraid of sat fat, and wants feel a sense of superiority self control in shunning my macaroon.

I love chatting with the Type A person about why sat fat a beast, because they want to learn, the same way i come to paleohacks to learn.

I don't chat with the type B because they want to argue, I say "yeh, it is a brick of saturated coconut fat... its pretty delicious," and I let them walk away.

I cringe when my sis eats an oreo, or my friends slather a stir fry in canola. Friends, family, strangers at the market. I would love to talk about food, but I save my breath and wait for a time for those who would consider my postilion. Otherwise I will end up sending them further into there own nutritional misconceptions.


on August 15, 2013
at 01:22 PM

What get's me is when my friends and co-workers say that they need to start a new fitness and diet routine--the fitness routine always includes cardio-bunny workouts: elliptical and bike for 1hr X 7days a week. They look at me like I'm crazy when I move heavy barbells around ONLY 3-4X a week and eat meat centric and high-fat diet, when (in their eyes) low-fat yoplait yogurt, beans, and soy-rizo are "healthy." I get sick of those diet sites like caloriecount and hungry girl telling us what's healthy--they are doing more harm than good. Screw low-calorie cake mugs made from Betty crocker.



on August 15, 2013
at 03:34 PM

It's an uphill battle. You are trying to debunk 30 years of high carb, cardio, pro-trans fat, anti-saturated fat propaganda, which has been sold using the Big Lie form over and over and over again.

I think the key there is with people for whom it hasn't worked, those whose diets have failed them might wind up listening. You can always ask what they do, and follow up with "How has it been working for you?" and mention how long a paleo diet got you skinny, and then follow up with, "maybe you should consider switching, that kind of diet didn't work for me, here's what did..." and be ready to answer all the low carb industrial seed oil propaganda.

One good thing to mention is that "Oh by the way, did you know Bacon is made of the same kinds of fats as a good extra virgin olive oil?" On butter, you can point to this infographic: http://www.bulletproofexec.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Butter-Infographic1.jpg

There's big money to be made in selling trans fats and vegetable oils and grains and pasta and crap in a box, and thousands of hours of cardio. There's very little money to be made from selling paleo (the truth). We don't have 30 years of propaganda. But, we have two million years of evolution on our side. The hard part is getting them to try it.



on August 15, 2013
at 01:09 PM

Ugh, big question. Close friends and family know full well all I have to say on this matter.

But random or casual acquaintances? I was looking at a friend's Facebook post this morning, a recipe she plans to make tonight, with 3 cans of Pillsbury Buttermilk biscuit wrapped around some cheese and stuff. And ironically this is from some 'weight loss' recipes page she found.

Soybean oil, heavily enriched flour, and it's given the nutritional thumbs up because it's lower in fat... I was so close to writing something (such as: NOOOOOOOO) then opted not to. Where to even start??


on August 15, 2013
at 09:59 AM

Yep, I encounter that situation a very frequently and it's a difficult to deal with, people is so fond on their CW that a turnover on their way they look at food will be very hard to kick in them unless they really find out that makes sense and may be true. I guess one can only start to buy this once he starts experimenting with food and seeing how weight and overall well being progresses.

When I join a discussion about these topics, I found that what works the best is not to jump at the jugular on the low-fat grain-pro people but better say things like "well, I'm not that sure, there's a lot of studies (you better can name some of them for better reliability) than show that they MIGHT be not that good as we thought... or... the net I think it's pretty useful when not speaking to a doc but a layperson, something like "... a lot of people on the net reported that when they left that supposedly good food they startet to feel a lot better" this kind of thing kicks in people's mind IMO.

Other things I resort is connecting dots about why today people is so fat and sick when they buy everything low-fat and have lots of modern diseases that didn't exist when we just ate plants and animal food.

Having some reference documentals or books that you can recommend to them regarding a certain topic will also build more trust, and more even if you have targeted material for certain profile of people, for example for the grain and people that suffer hypothyroidism I like to point out Dr Kharrazian book about the thyroid because he connects gluten with hashimoto's, for people that is fat because they eat a lot of junk I like Dr Lustig video series the skinny on obestity, for people that fears saturated fat, I'd refer to gary Taubes books, for longevity and reversal of other diseases I might bring out Dr Rosedale or Dr Kruse... etc


on August 22, 2013
at 04:04 AM

I personally do it all the time, but if you're scared, be prudent when to and when not to.


on August 15, 2013
at 03:44 PM

Ask them to explain their beliefs, and they either won't be able to, or what they say will be wrong, and then you can explain why.



on August 15, 2013
at 02:51 PM

People take these things in a manner similar to religion - this is what they were taught and this is what they believe. I have trouble teaching my own family, and my own wife typically "discovers" things two years after I start them. My daughter believes me, but only after I pointed out many times what the effects of foods were - in real time, or else you lose the argument. My mother can see the ravages of SAD on my father, yet she does not believe me. One of my sisters listens to me, and the medical people who collaborate on my garden ask dietary advice occasionally. Amongst my best friends, there are medical people who will not believe a word I say, and other less educated people who listen.

You can only talk to people who are open minded or who are looking for solutions to their problems. For the rest, darwinism works against them and their children and there is nothing you can do. It is terrible to talk this way about a group of people which include siblings and cousins and friends, but really, no other way. You should never make any effort, except for people you care about, and even then expect nothing.



on August 15, 2013
at 01:55 PM

Isn't it interesting how food and nutrition have become like religion and politics?

It's a topic I and everyone on this board has more than just a passing interest, as well as a wealth of knowledge. Yes, it's true that most people don't know tons about food, diet, nutrition etc. They have opinions though, and ideas. My own experiences have put me in a number of situations like this. I intern at lifesytle magazine, where food is an important topic for example. I see these situations as an opportunity to have conversations, not to lecture people, or even to educate.

People are going to be more receptive and respectful of your ideas if you are of theirs, if you make them part of a dialogue, let them ask questions. Most of us probably held similar ideas at one point.

. Some of the most interesting conversations about nutrition are the ones I've had with my veggie sister. We're sisters, but we try and be civil, even if we think the other one is nuts.


on August 15, 2013
at 01:36 PM

How about just saying "I'm not so sure about that" or "I've heard smart people say things to the contrary"?


on August 15, 2013
at 10:16 AM

Hey Rach,

the thing is, truth is unique to an individuals perception.

However, if your experiences have lead you to percieve certain truths in regards to health or more specifically paleo/primal living then simply offer suggestions, invitations or observations based off of your said experiences.

If you're already in a converstaion and somebody has brought up something that certainly doesn't sit right with you and you'd feel like you'd be doing them a disservice if you didn't clarify, I'd invite you to utilize the method above as I've found it to be least resentful and more well recieved in those awkward "what the hell are you talking about" conversations - that we so often find ourselves involved with when discussing health.



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