Handling Criticism

When Family or Friends Don’t Understand Your Keto Lifestyle

In a perfect world, we would all have a circle of family and friends to support us in everything we do. They would do their best to understand, encourage and help us be successful. Some of them might even do what we’re doing right along with us in a show of empathy and solidarity.

Alas, we don’t live in a perfect world. If you do have people who support your efforts and who encourage you in living your keto lifestyle, that is truly a blessing! But you may find that some of your family and friends just don’t understand what keto is all about or why you’re doing it. Some may even try to discourage you from eating this way, whether subtly (“Oh, go ahead – one little cookie won’t hurt!”) or more obviously by openly criticizing your choices. You might hear statements like “But you don’t need to lose weight”, “It’s not healthy”, or “Why would you want to miss out on so many of the delicious foods you’ve had to give up?”

The Whys and What Fors of Choosing Keto

If the people who are questioning your choices really seek to understand why you are making them, then there are certainly some great facts you can share about the benefits of keto eating.

Keto is not a “diet” (something you do temporarily). It’s a life-long way of healthy eating that can improve your energy level, mental and physical performance, optimize your weight, correct imbalances and deficiencies, improve our body’s ability to absorb and utilize nutrients, help you sleep better, relieve or eliminate some allergies, boost your immune system, rid your body of stored toxins, and help in the treatment and prevention of numerous diseases (think obesity, type 2 diabetes, digestive disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, auto-immune diseases, inflammation, and even cancer).

When you’re eating keto, you’re consuming real, nutritious, whole foods instead of processed, toxic, artificial junk. Choosing the right foods is probably the single most important thing you can do to optimize your health. We don’t get fat and sick overnight; it’s the cumulative effect of years of poor dietary and other lifestyle choices. By the time some of those illnesses finally make themselves known, it may be difficult or impossible to reverse them. By following the keto way of eating we give ourselves the best possible chance of minimizing or avoiding illness and disease.

As far as having to give up some of the foods you enjoy (spelled “c-a-r-b-s”), there are actually a lot of keto-friendly substitutes for many of them. They may not taste identical, but they are truly delicious in their own right, and they won’t cause the continued cravings and energy crashes that high-carb foods do. Remember the old saying “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”? When you look at the bigger picture, the momentary missing of a certain food doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore.

Now, I can’t imagine how anyone could NOT be convinced of the benefits of keto after hearing all this – it’s a pretty impressive list! But sometimes there’s still that one person …

Doubting Thomas

Despite your best efforts at touting the benefits of keto, there still may be someone who is just not convinced (or who refused to even listen to you in the first place). Who knows why – maybe they’re jealous on some level. Maybe they’re still clinging to some misinformation they heard about keto that says it’s bad. Or maybe they’re afraid of how your choices might affect them. Whatever their reasons, they are just not the enthusiastic supporters you wish they would be.

It’s wonderful to feel like the people we care most about are on our team and cheering us on, but if they can’t (or won’t) be, please don’t let that be the reason you stop choosing keto. Remember that you are doing this for yourself – you don’t NEED anyone’s permission or blessing. Your choice is not hurting anyone in any way. Once people see that you are committed to following this way of eating no matter what, hopefully they will accept it and just let it go.

Sadly, there may still be someone in your life who will continue to criticize even in the face of your commitment to this way of life. They aren’t convinced by anything you have to say. Maybe they try to get you to change your mind through arguing or belittling you. And the minute you argue back, it only seems to escalate the situation.

Retain Your Power By Avoiding The Game

In cases like this, I believe the best thing you can do is to simply not take the bait. Instead of trying to change their mind, try responding in a way that will stop their argument right in its tracks. It’s called non-defensive responding.

I read an entire book years ago that talked about the use of non-defensive responses, particularly with difficult, abusive or critical people. Something it said really stuck with me, and that is that the minute you start to argue, cry, threaten, apologize, explain, justify or defend your actions and choices, or try to get them to change their mind, you’re handing your power over to them. You are giving them the power to withhold what you’re asking for (their support and approval). Whatever their criticism may be, if you respond with non-defensive statements like “Thanks for sharing your opinion”, “I’m sorry you’re upset”, “It’s interesting that you see it that way”, “I’m sorry you don’t approve” or just plain “Hmmm, I see”, you’re dropping the ball. You’re refusing to get caught up in the game, and when you refuse to argue, it tends to take the wind out of the other person’s sails pretty quickly.

Let me just remind you one more time that you are doing this for YOU – nobody else! Stay your course, or get back “on the wagon” if you’ve fallen off. If you know in your heart that this is something you want to do to take good care of yourself, don’t let anyone dissuade you from it. Do what you have to do to keep YOU as your first priority! Don’t let the naysayers get you down! You’ve got this!

As always, please feel free to leave a comment or question about your keto journey. Make it an awesome day, and keto on, friends!

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