My Opinions on Dealing with Non-Paleo Family Members

I’ve only been paleo since March, fully committed since August. I may not be the ultimate word on paleo, but I’ve learned some stuff along the way. Here’s what I would like to share with you guys. My opinions on dealing with Non-Paleo Family members. I know that when you’re young, it’s easy just to be a rude little brat and stomp your little foot and tell your family, this is how things shall be, or else! A lot of people lose their family this way. I am a part of a Facebook Paleo group that I love very much, but I see too often, people complaining about their families.

Lord knows I would love to complain about my husband and his non-paleo ways. All. Day. Long. The chocolate milk and Red Bull in the fridge. The top pantry shelf full of his junk food. Having to rack my brain to make two meals out of one. Things would be so much easier if everyone I knew was paleo. But, one of my relatives told me a long time ago, “You have to live where you’re at.” That has always stuck with me. So here I go. My opinions.

1. You can’t expect everyone to understand Paleo, no matter how long you talk until you’re blue in the face.

You can share articles on Facebook, but you can’t make your friends and family read them. You can discuss it with family, but that doesn’t mean they understand. For instance, everyone knows my youngest is lactose intolerant…They think…He just can’t eat cheese. No people…This means he can’t drink milk products, eat yogurt, eat cheese, and this includes some “lactose free” cheese that actually have casein which he is highly reactive to as well. But, can you really expect to hand out a big pamphlet of things he can’t eat, have them take the time and headache of deciphering what he can eat, and then get it right every single time? Nope. You have to live where you’re at. And I, my friends, have a big family of non-paleos who love to stuff my kids full of food.

2. Give the ones trying some credit. Even if it isn’t perfect.

My mother in law is a great lady. She is that person that reminds me to stay kind and laugh. She is pretty much the only person who tries to comprehend what we can eat. She helps out often with Almond milk and even made some really great gluten free cookies. Now, some people feel the need to rant on about the cookies having rice flour that is not paleo. We could go on about the Almond Milk having carageenan. However, she’s trying and I’m not going to discourage her from helping because she’s doing a great job! Sometimes we focus too hard on the things that people do wrong. How about really appreciating the effort and being thankful she made gluten free cookies at all? I know I was ecstatic because I hadn’t had a cookie all Christmas till then!

And i must say, there are those people who know, and understand but just aren’t as vocal. I think my mom would be one of those people. She may not fully understand it but she respects me as their mom that I’m doing what I think is best. That’s a great thing to recognize.

Now…There are other people (remaining nameless, but will know I’m talking of them.) who just plain don’t care and will do anything to sabotage you. Literally, they just want to make you angry by shoving coke down your child’s throat, or making you look like a hypocrite for letting them eat conventionally on a holiday. Over years of fighting with these family members, I finally just gave up. Yelling and screaming doesn’t work. You get more flies with honey my friends. But, with these people, I think it’s important to make sure they know what you CAN eat. Meats, vegetables, fruit, nuts, chocolate (if you’re paleo). If you have a stricter diet like AIP, GAPS, Low FODMAP and are diagnosed, you may just take time to say I have “X” and I must maintain a healthy diet or I’ll get even more sick. That will actually cause me pain. Offer up a solution such as bringing your own food to family gatherings, offering to cook yourself at your house, or spending the day cooking with them and teaching them a recipe that you can eat.

3. Paleo (or other diet restrictions) are something you chose to do.

For whatever the reason may be, you think Paleo is what you need to be doing for you and your family. Which, what can be bad about it? You’re concentrating on whole foods, one word ingredients, organic, buying local, eating the color of the rainbow (no skittles), and you may be one of those cool paleos (that I hope to be one day) that is growing your own produce, eggs, and such. But, what many of your family may see is “Paleo DIET.” Diets are usually end-able. It’s not something that you stick to for long. Then, the longer you live your paleo way, they get more frustrated wondering when you’re going to give this paleo “thing” up. But, it’s not just about what you eat. It’s really about interacting with the community, putting your hard earned money in the hands of those who care about what you feed your family, buying local, eating the whole animal, and so much more. Maybe if you’re trying to have those conversations with non-paleo family members you can bring up more than just what you’re not eating.

4. Be the change you want to see in the world.

I love this saying. It is so true. You can’t fix everyone else. You can guide, hint, show, but until you really live the change, will people be like “Hey…what’s going on with that Ami? She looks great…What is she doing?” Sometimes we have to be selfish and work on ourselves. I do that by doing yoga. https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene I love doing Yoga with Adriene. I did DDP Yoga for a while but it’s more about working out than the spiritual aspect. With Adriene, you can set intentions and visualize things already being done. Remember that hard to deal with family member? Maybe envision dealing with them gracefully and kindly. I try to keep kindness and compassion at the center of my practice. You also find your center and I know on days when I’ve gotten my yoga in, I’m more calm and seem to make better decisions. Work on you, and the rest will find it’s place. You may also consider, when having a conversation with a family member…”Is what I’m about to say helpful?” Will it cause more understanding? Will the light bulb click on? Will it at least move their hand to the light switch? If not…I’d adjust what you’re wanting to say. Be thoughtful.

5. Family is more important than Paleo.

While I hope you never have to actually make the choice between family and paleo…In the end, Family is more important than what you eat. The analogy is gross…but sometimes you just got to “Let dead dogs lay.” This doesn’t have to mean giving in and going back to the Standard American Diet and enjoying doughnuts with them every Sunday. But, maybe you find a recipe for paleo doughnuts and ask if you can bring your own and leave it at that. Be comfortable with your choice but understand, they may never be paleo. Love them anyways. Even if they’re literally being *insert your thoughts on that person here* love them anyways. I think of another saying…(I guess I’m full of sayings today. ^___^) Being angry is like a holding a hot coal in your hand with the intent of throwing it at the person you’re angry with. In the end, you’re the one that gets burned from holding onto anger. And who knows! When you finally let go, you might open up your perspective and find that family member you didn’t even know had a clue…in fact…Does have a clue! Even if it’s not the exact same idea as you…It’s progress.

And that’s it! That is the summary of all my “learnings” from the past five months of being fully committed to paleo. It’s hard to get to this place. It’s hard to deal with non-paleos…but it’s also hard to deal with Hard Core Paleos that think everyone should be paleo 1000% of the time or you’re doomed! Either way you look at it…Stay positive. Seek out the good in everyone. Praise those who really try. Keep kindness and compassion. Plus, stay open minded. That’s it. That’s all I have for now.

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