This may come as a complete shock to some of you – brace yourselves, seriously, SIT DOWN!!! Okay, contrary to popular belief in the paleo circle, not everyone is as passionate about the subjects of diet, nutrition, training, and health as we are. In fact, a vast majority of people are completely oblivious. Exhibit A: the drive-thru line at Burger King. That’s not to say that passion is a bad thing, but in some circles you might appear to be a little loony. Exhibit B: Standing in line at the grocery store, cart teeming with grass-fed meat and organic vegetables, sandwiched between two carts filled with soda, chips, Hungry Man dinners, and frosted flakes. I know many of you have a goal to convert the entire world to paleo, and don’t get me wrong it’s a great thought. But, and that’s a BIG but(t)… it’s not going to happen overnight. Exhibit C: McDonalds is currently selling about 20 Big Macs every minute.
So, what am I driving at here? Well, as with anything we’re passionate about – sometimes, we get a little too caught up. Exhibit A: PETA members and their crazy protests. This sort of ‘passion’ doesn’t necessarily make a case any stronger and it often sends people running in the opposite direction. Now granted, we ‘paleos’ aren’t out on the streets and on billboards; and honestly, it’s likely better that way. That being said, there are some of us that are maybe just a little over-the-top when we talk to others about our paleo practices. We know how great it makes us feel and we want to share our experiences by telling others what it can do for them; and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Where it gets out of hand is when your friends, family and coworkers start being turned off by your constant preaching and ridicule of their food choices. I have had several clients come to me after working with other paleo ‘nutritionists’ saying that these ‘experts’ made them feel like failures for having something ‘non-paleo’ – even if it was just on one occasion. Now, maybe some of you truly are 100% paleo 100% of the time – but I’m going to go ahead and wager that’s not the case. And even if you are is it your place to judge the decisions of other mature adults? (Don’t answer that…)
Not everyone wants to hear about how the bread on their sandwich or morning oatmeal is ‘going to kill them’ – and especially not while they are eating it. At the office, family gatherings, and in social situations, when in ‘mixed eating company’, try starting the conversation with something about the weather instead of the infinite hazards of the SAD (Standard American Diet). If the conversation moves to a discussion about nutrition, feel free to pipe up and offer your thoughts and viewpoints. Really, there is NO NEED to begin any conversation with “that cookie is going to kill you”, whether it be true or not. It is perfectly acceptable to confront someone close to you that is struggling with health and/or diet about their current habits, see where they’re at and if they’ve even thought about changing. Provide resources for them to educate themselves and tell them what paleo has done for you and others. Keep it positive!! If you know someone that is converting to paleo be supportive and encouraging. When they tell you they ate some French fries for lunch don’t make them feel like they failed. Instead, let them know it’s okay and encourage them to jump right back on the paleo boat. Being militant, overbearing, and annoying isn’t going to further the paleo mission. Honestly, does it really do that much for PETA? Or heck, even political candidates and ballot issues. People can only take so much before they just ‘tune-out’ and this is NOT what we’re going for!
The underlying message here is- be passionate, inform, and educate with solid information not with what you think paleo should be. Remember, not everyone is going to be as excited or sold as you are. Let them know you’re there if/when they want to talk about it – give them a copy of The Paleo Solution to read or a great paleo cookbook (Everyday Paleo, Paleo Comfort Foods, Make It Paleo, etc.), let them educate themselves. Give them control and in time it will happen, it just might not be right this minute. Being a jerk or jerkette won’t win any fans and overall it’s going to hurt the entire paleo movement. Let’s work together to educate and inform using constructive conversations and activities. Paleo sells itself, we don’t need billboards and campaigns all we need is real food and it’s out there!
Whatever you do – Don’t be “That Guy”!