Social Implications of Changing Your Diet

As a functional nutritionist, I am in the business of helping people make changes to their lifestyle that will help their body reach optimal health. This involves looking at different aspects of health including diet, sleep, movement, stress management, and social connections.

There’s no doubt about it, lifestyle changes are challenging in part because the change usually asks us to go against the mainstream approach. Changing your diet is no different.

This is not surprising to hear since we know that 80% of the chronic disease in this country is preventable with lifestyle modification, but I digress… These changes often include taking inflammatory foods out of the diet, incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into the diet, getting more sleep, more exercise, more stress management and more social connections into the already-busy lives of my patients.

Thus, most of my patients have to sort through the social implications of what these changes mean. Many are torn between a desire to use integrative medicine to improve their health or reduce their need for medication and the desire to fit in, avoid awkwardness, show up in a fun way, and even just avoid the likely conversation about the unusual choices they are making. Some have even reported getting an eye roll as they announce changing their diet as though their companion cares more about the convenience of the status quo than the health of their friend.

Bottom line, lifestyle changes are complicated in that they can challenge how we define ourselves and how others define themselves by virtue of their proximity to us. I don’t have a magic solution to this challenge. My best advice is to lean into the discomfort that changing something like the food you are choosing brings up in your life.

I am sure that there is something to be learned about yourself or your friends and family that will move you further along the path of self-acceptance. And in my mind, the root of our ability to take care of ourselves hinges on our ability to see and accept ourselves in this moment.