Saturday, July 24, 2010

How to Deal With the Food Pusher in Your Life

By JJ Virgin
Last year was a very stressful year for me.
Yes, I know all of the tricks—burst training, extra B vitamins, Emergen-C packets, getting consistent sleep, taking time out for bliss daily, and I did them all, really, but I still managed to tweak my gut a bit with the result being delayed food sensitivities to dairy and egg.
I confirmed this with an IGG Food Sensitivities Profile and then I followed our 28 Day Break Free Program to break myself of these offending foods.  When I re-challenged dairy and eggs, I discovered that they really don’t work for me, so I have kept them out of my diet because I prefer to live without skin flare-ups, gas and bloating, fatigue and achy joint. Can you blame me?
I was home last week to lead our annual board retreat for the National Association of Nutrition Professionals and I decided to combine the meeting with a visit with my mother. The first night home we went out to dinner at Skate’s restaurant in Emeryville which is great because every seat has a view of the water and the Bay Bridge.
My mom wanted to split a Caesar salad to start and I explained to her about my gut issues and why I no longer eat dairy and eggs. This started a chain reaction of food pushing that amazed me! After I had to pass on the Caesar Salad, she tried to get me to have the salad with blue cheese. When the focaccia bread came to the table (dairy and eggs) she insisted I try it. I declined and she kept urging that I have just a little piece, that couldn’t hurt me.
Now she wasn’t doing this to be mean or irritating (as I kept reminding myself, while being totally grateful that I didn’t have a Pinot Noir sensitivity) but she honestly couldn’t wrap her brain around the fact that I wasn’t going to eat dairy and eggs. She was upset for me. She saw this as a major issue that could really hurt my enjoyment of life. I figured this wasn’t the time to tell her I had gone gluten-free too. It probably would have pushed her over the edge. 
The next morning she offered me yogurt, a sweet roll and a muffin. (I kid you not, I was raised on Captain Crunch and Pop-Tarts and have been detoxing ever since!)  I was met with disapproving glances as I made my PaleoMeal Dairy Free protein shake with a fresh peach (yum) and swallowed a handful of supplements.
Thankfully I was headed to the NANP board meeting where we had a fabulous catered lunch of wild salmon, grape leaves, organic greens and dark chocolate from Whole Foods. I was amongst my peeps who all chose to live this way and are on a mission to heal the world with food and healthy lifestyle shifts.
It made me realize though how difficult it can be out there. Honestly, there are food pushers everywhere. While some are truly out to sabotage you like my college roommate (Barb, I knew what you were doing and it wasn’t nice missy) who would bring home all of the foods that she knew I couldn’t resist anytime I announced I was going on a diet, but I bet most just really don’t get it and are coming much more from a place of misunderstanding. They want you to join in the fun, they don’t want you to miss out and hey, let’s face it, it could also be that they also don’t want to feel guilty about their own diet transgressions by being around someone who isn’t partaking.

Of course, if you have gotten the sugar or any of your food sensitivities out of your diet then you know that what you are missing out on—false fat, gas and bloating, diarrhea and constipation, skin eruptions, fatigue, sinus issues, headaches and moodiness. These are things you are happy to be doing without. And it confirms my notion that most people have no idea what it feels like to be truly healthy and if they could really feel that for a day, they would gladly toss the chips, cookies, sodas and ice cream…. FOREVER.
So what should you do if you have a food pusher in your life?
I think that the approach varies depending on the personality of the pusher and the situation. Sometimes explaining that you have a serious health problem and have to avoid certain foods will do it. Often it is easy to simply say, “No thanks” or “I’ll pass on that” and smile and that will end it, especially if you don’t make a big deal out of your abstinence. Or the excuse of “I just ate, I am so full” can work too. If someone is insisting, you can always let them know that you don’t care for any now but would love to take a piece home (to your circular file).
Do you have a food pusher in your life? What strategies do you use when you encounter this? I would love to hear your story. Please email me at with the subject “food pusher.”

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