Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Eating Raw Socially I

Right now is the perfect time to address this huge issue amongst raw eating. We are about to enter the holiday season where temptation and social eating situations are right around the corner.

The social eating dilemma is very complex. It is not a “one situation fits all” as we deal with different personalities and different food service situations.

After pursuing the raw diet over 6 years now, I do have to say that the social aspect of it is one of the most, if not, the most challenging aspect of the raw diet. Personally, I will not change my diet under a social situation, but there sure can be plenty of obstacles when it comes to conversations and situations in which I’ve found myself.

This will be in two parts. I will address the first part of social raw eating that has to do with communication and answering questions, and getting out of some possibly uncomfortable debates!

Let’s look at all the different facets on eating raw socially:

Most importantly - what kind of person are you?

Person A

Do you feel like you have to ‘adjust’ to the crowd so you don’t stand out or make yourself feel open to questions, comments and criticism?

You may be the type who cannot handle answering questions or concerns so you’d rather not eat differently than others. You will often give up your raw diet easily because it is more important for you to feel accepted by others, and because you cannot handle “being yourself”, you feel that doing what everyone else is doing will make it easier to blend in

Person B

Do you have absolutely no problem eating what you want around others, but feel like you have to be prepared to answer questions?

1. You may be an argumentative type of person, desiring to be noticed for being different, but ready to put people in their place or change others to your way of eating. You may often find yourself in a heated argument with others or being very defensive or backed into a corner. You may constantly feel a lot of judgment from friends and family. In the back of your mind, you may not feel completely at ease with your diet choices, or you may be new to raw foods.

2. On the other hand, you may not be the type of person who wants to be in the battle-zone about your food choices, but you just want to be left alone and in peace with your meal. You might just need some tips on phrases to say when met with questions and objection, to nip in the bud a conversation that might get uncomfortable to you.

Now, try to see which category you fall into. Most people are going to be an A or a B1 or B2. The reason I believe this, is because those who are in the C category are the ones who can easily handle themselves in social situations or really don't care (and have little need to read this!)

Person A – this is for you

You need validation to eat how you feel is the most healthy for your body. You will never be able to reach your goals if you are constantly trying to flex yourself to be like everyone else.

Think of this.

Not everyone likes the same things. Do you think 50 people would all eat the same flavor of ice cream at Baskin-Robbins? Of course not. Everyone will want a different flavor, and you know that there is a possibility that some of them will not even be able to tolerate the ice cream; they’ll be eating sherbet or nothing at all. And there are actually people in the world who just don’t like ice cream. One of my husband’s friends does not eat dairy, he just plain doesn’t like it. Now just suppose 30 of those 50 people all order chocolate ice cream, do you think those 30 people will argue with and judge the other 20 people for not getting the same flavor?

Now let’s look at this from a ‘healthier’ point of view. What if you were at a big slumber party and everyone went to sleep without brushing his or her teeth? You try to go to sleep, but you feel uncomfortable, you have a bad taste in your mouth, and your teeth don’t feel clean and smooth? You are lying there feeling really gross and nobody else cares, they are all nodding off to sleep but you alone are lying there and can’t stand it. You know you can get up out of your sleeping bag and go right to the bathroom and brush them. You have your toothbrush and toothpaste with you so that’s not an issue. What’s stopping you?

So now what if you were invited to dinner somewhere and you were very allergic to wheat and dairy. Lasagna, garlic bread and salad are being served. If you were allergic to wheat and dairy it is obvious you would be foregoing the lasagna and garlic bread anyway. When people have been eating raw long enough, having dairy and wheat is a recipe for disaster and a shock to the system. This is something to seriously think about if you are planning on “going with the flow” when you eat socially.

When you are eating and staying raw through all functions, you do want to keep in mind that your body may not very well tolerate anything other than raw, fresh food. Using yourself as a guinea pig in a social situation would in fact be a recipe for disaster and may make others uncomfortable should your body have some kind of reaction to a food its being reintroduced to. After all is said and done, you may end up being the center of attention after all.

Person B – this is for you

You want to eat the way you want to eat around others. The problem is, can you handle yourself when faced with questions, comments and criticism?

The very best route to take here whether you fall under the 1 or 2 category is to avoid any back and forth discussion. If you already answer someone’s question and then get hit with another question, do you see the way the conversation is going here? So by the second question or challenge, it is your responsibility to put an end to the discussion. There are so many variables here, depending on the person or intention of the discussion, we will address a few:

You (to the wait staff) – I will have a large entrĂ©e salad with everything on the side please
Dining companion – Is that all you are going to eat?
You – Yes, I feel good when I eat this way.
Dining companion – What way do you eat?
You – I love eating fresh food.
Dining Companion – What do you mean by fresh food?
You – You know, fruits and vegetables.
Dining Companion – Where do you get your protein?
You – I don’t know, but I feel great eating this way.

Here I wrote everything that “you” say to try to end the conversation, but if you’ll notice the Dining Companion keeps asking another question. In most situations this won’t happen, but if you keep going back to how you like eating this way, and how great it makes you feel it would be very rare for the conversation to continue.

Here are some other “comebacks” to try to diffuse the conversation:

Them – Oh, you like rabbit food?!
You – I love it! I feel great eating this way!
(You could return the joke with “Oh - you like vulture food?” depending on the mood of the day, but that’s not always safe)

Them – Do you eat this way all the time?
You – So far, yes! I feel great eating this way!

Them – Would you like a slice of cake?
You – no thanks, I just ate

I learned the “no thanks, I just ate” courtesy of Dr. Douglas Graham. It always works. I’ve had people say this to me, even when I am only offering a glass of water (and I know they are not vegan nor raw).

Them - Why do you eat this way?
You – My doctor prescribed this diet for me, and it’s wonderful (when you include something about your ‘doctor’ there’s very little resistance to the idea).

How about when folks want to know more about your diet? And you are not comfortable discussing it right then and there at the dinner table or when you are all eating? Here are some simple things to say.

Them – I’m dying to know what you’ve been doing - you look great!
You – Oh, thank you! I’d love to share it with you. Can I call you or get your e-mail address? I have a ton of information I can give you.

Them – So tell me about this diet you’re on.
You – Oh, it’s so simple! Can I call you or e-mail you the information? Let’s write down your contact information, I have a piece of paper in my purse somewhere…

Them – I heard you are on a new diet…I’m dying to hear about it.
You – Oh I can’t wait to tell you! When can we chat about it?

Do you see how this diffuses the conversation and will give you opportunity to share or discuss (or maybe even debate) later, one-on-one with your friend?

Hopefully some of these tips have helped with prickly and just plain curious people. Next we will discuss how to handle the actual food part of social raw eating!

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