How to Deal with People’s Negative Comments about Your Paleo Diet


tsk-tsk.jpgYou probably get some sarcastic questions and negative comments from people about your Paleo diet, right? I do. I try not to get defensive and upset, even though I know my chiders’ diets are usually not-so-great.

But sometimes it’s really hard to keep my cool. I’m feisty.

For instance, the other day, my vegetarian friend asked my husband and me, “So, are you guys still on that Paleo diet?” to which I replied, “Yes.”

Then, the otherwise peaceful, yoga-loving woman surprisingly said, “I think your fangs are getting bigger,” and pointed to her own canines, laughing and pointing at us. “Don’t you feel guilty killing all those animals?!”

It was a really good thing my husband was there because after a little more of her chiding, I said, “No, we get our animals from local ranches where they’re taken very good care of, and I don’t feel guilty for eating them. I’m not having this conversation,” And I walked out of the building. Seth had to finish the conversation for us.

You can call me a brat or overly defensive if you want (my husband did), but here’s why I got so mad.

1. She’s a vegetarian and I’ve never said one negative word to her about her diet, even though I think it’s suboptimal. I was a vegetarian for 10 years and it ruined me, and yet like I said, I’ve never said anything judgmental to her about her diet. Plus, I know that she has gut issues that would probably be completely resolved by cutting out all the grains she eats.

2. I make it a point to never say anything to anyone about their diet, unless it’s on this blog, where you can choose to read it or not, or someone specifically asks for my opinion. To have her rashly judge me and make fun of me for a choice that I’ve put so much thought and effort into, and that I’ve had so much success with, was overwhelming and frustrating.

And lastly…

3. I’m tired of people giving me shit for the way I eat.

I’m just tired of it.

People say things like, “Isn’t eating all that meat bad for you? Is your cholesterol ok?” or, “Are you doing my fitness class today? Oh, wait, of course you’re not. You’re Paleo – you have no energy!” Or, “That’s all in your head. Everyone can eat grains – come on. Ha ha!” And on an on.

The worst is when people ask me for help with their child’s autism, ADHD, and all the meds they’re on, or they tell me about their own need for medications for various symptoms, and then they make fun of me for my diet. All in the same conversation. That irony is one of the most frustrating parts of my life, to be quite honest. I wish I could just shake them by the shoulders and scream, “What are you DOING?! Can’t you see that it’s just about what you’re feeding yourselves? All of these problems could just go away for you!”

But usually I just reply with a, “Ha ha. Yeah, yeah,” and change the subject. It’s not worth my time. In my opinion, if they’re to the point where they’re actually making fun of me, they don’t deserve to be re-educated on nutrition. Not by me, anyway. Moreover, they probably don’t want to hear about it.

If people ask questions in a humane way, expressing genuine interest and concern for their own health or mine, of course I give them the best answers I can. I’ll talk to people about my diet all day long if they actually want to know.

So how can YOU deal with the naysayers?

Well, if they’re mean about it, I say just try to ignore them and change the subject. They’re probably not interested in hearing about the details of gluten and omega 3’s and all that, anyway.

In the case that it’s your family and good friends making fun of you, asking direct and pointed questions, consider just telling them all about your successes with the diet so far.

“Honey, don’t you think that cutting out major food groups (grains and dairy) is a bad idea? What’s next – are you gonna go live in a cave??” asks your mother.

To which you could reply, “But Mom, I lost 25 pounds, and no other way of eating has done that for me. And my skin cleared up, I’m off my anti-depressant, and I have more energy. I think I’m going to keep trying it for a while. Plus, this book I read (mention any of the Primal/Paleo books, like ours) did a comparison between a typical American diet and my new diet, and mine is actually higher in vitamins and minerals. And all those grains were making me fat and tired.”

Or something like that. I actually did do a comparison blog post here if you’re interested.

The more you read, the more information you can quickly regurgitate in a conversation like that. So read up! :)

It’s really not about the science behind it, though. If you just tell people you feel better and look better eating this way, what can they possibly say to that?

That you may feel better now, but you’re going to have a heart attack from all that meat later? Then go get your blood drawn by your doc and see for yourself if it’s helping your glucose, triglycerides and other markers of health. I’m willing to bet that it is, judging by the rampant success I’ve seen in others and myself. (My own cholesterol has improved markedly since I’ve been Paleo.) Then you’ll have even more positive things to say about Paleo to your naysayers.

I mean, if people get really nasty, you could be nasty back to them, but that’s not really going to accomplish anything. Like, “Oh yeah? You think my diet’s funny? Well, maybe if you tried it you wouldn’t be so fat!”

No, don’t say that. Seriously, don’t…

The whole point of this Paleo thing is to get as many people feeling better as possible, right?

So we should probably be as mature about it as we can (myself included) and not take things too personally when people make fun of us. After all, Paleo IS very different. It IS completely opposite (almost) of how we’ve been told to eat our whole lives. So people do have reason to think we’re nuts. Let’s try to fight fire with water – not fire – or just ignore the naysayers and enjoy the benefits for ourselves :)

Anyone else have any suggestions for how to deal with anti-Paleo meanies? What do you say when people make negative comments about your diet?