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why people dislike the dieter—and how to respond

Being healthy isn’t always easy in our world. We can buy entire meals from the comfort of our cars. We can order cookies right to our doorstep. We see advertisements about new restaurants and unhealthy snacks all day every day. And the food industry makes it extra hard to get good-quality nutrients from packaged products. 

But beyond all that, perhaps one of the main challenges is this: Others think you’re “no fun” when you’re healthy. In today's post, I list off some of the challenges I've had when it comes to social pressures, which I hope will be particularly helpful for you during the holiday season!

Why Health Nuts are Seen as Fun-Suckers                                                      

  1. People think you’re being judgmental. 

  • Sometimes people just want to let loose, and in our culture that’s usually associated with martinis, cocktails, late nights, and junk food. Some people feel as though you’re judging them when you're not engaging in the activity and let’s face it, that never feels good.

    • WHAT TO SAY: Be honest. Say something like, “Honestly, I’ve just been feeling really crappy when I drink these days and am taking a little break.” Remind them that just because you’re not doing x, y, z doesn’t mean you’re judging them. And then really don't judge them. We all have our own personal health goals and it's important to be respectful of each others'. 

2. People like the “fun” you. 

  • Some people have different personalities when they let loose. Perhaps your friends fear that you’ll be your put-together, composed self if you’re not engaging in their form of “partying.” 

    • WHAT TO SAY: “Just because I’m not engaging in [activity] doesn’t mean I’m not super excited for our night ahead together. I can’t wait to hear what’s going on with all of you!” Make the focus on enjoying your friends’ company rather than the activity itself. 

3. Food is love. 

  • One of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts is chocolate. Thanksgiving is really just friends and family members getting together to eat to their heart’s content. Food signifies celebration, happiness, and love in our culture. When you decline that piece of birthday cake, people think you’re not engaging in the celebration. And of course you don’t want to offend the host by declining their baked goods. 

    • WHAT TO SAY: The first approach to this situation is to tell a little white lie. Saying you’re full from a previous meal, that you might have some later, or that you’ll try a bite of someone else’s is an easy way to get out of the spotlight. The other option is to just be honest. Try saying, “You know, I’ve made a goal with myself to try and eat super healthy recently and have been feeling so much better. I kind of want to ride this healthy wave!” This assures people that it’s not about them, but about you being committed to your health goals.

4. The healthier you are, the worse others feel about themselves. 

  • Sometimes people get super defensive when they find our you’re dieting, and this comes back to the idea of judgement. They might think you’re judging them, but they also might start to judge themselves. Perhaps your healthy habits remind them of the poor diet choices they’re making or how far away they are from their goals. Remember: This has a lot more to do with them than it does with you. 

    • WHAT TO SAY: “I honestly haven’t been feeling like my best self lately. I think if I clean up my diet it might help me out. Sometimes it’s really hard, but I hope it will be worth it.” You could also comment on how tasty their food looks too or try a bite so they’re assured you’re not judging them. 

5. Get creative.

  • When you’re trying to eat healthy, it eliminates a lot of your typical date ideas. Dinner? Nope. Movie? But the popcorn is my favourite! Being healthy means getting creative about what you do with your time, and it can require a lot more effort. However, the bonus is that it can lead to some really fun memories if people are willing to get involved. Try visiting Ripley’s Aquarium, going to an escape room, playing a board game together, or even cooking a healthy meal at home. You’d be amazed at how much fun you can have even when food isn’t the centre of your time together!

The Bottom Line

Just because you’re committed to your health doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to fun. Be honest with your friends about why you’ve made your decision; true friends want what’s best for you and will be supportive about your decision. And remember: oftentimes when people are judgmental about your healthy eating habits it's because they're projecting their own insecurities onto you. It could be that they aren't feeling their best these days and your healthy habits are a reminder that they should be doing more to improve their health, too. Have a mantra whenever you're faced with a Judgy Judy: I feel better when I'm healthy and I'm doing this for myself, for example. You got this!

You Tell Me!

I always LOVE hearing the advice you all have to offer. Have you faced any criticisms when on a diet? How do you handle it and what did you say? Let me know in the comments below. 


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