After getting to know the ins and outs of whichever special diet you are on, (SCD, GAPS, AIP, Paleo, etc.) the next greatest challenge is how to present this to family and friends in order to gain their support – not their ire.
When I put my son on the SCD and then the GAPS diet when he was 10, arguably, the hardest aspect was explaining the diet to family and friends – especially those who were clueless about the essentials of eating real food.
Common reactions amongst our family and friends was either angst for him – “oh that crazy mom who is obsessive about what food he eats” – or “oh poor kid, what can I make him?”
I very quickly learned that you cannot trust most people (even the well-meaning) to follow as complicated a diet as SCD or GAPS. I even provided recipes and some people still substituted ingredients that made it either illegal or just poor quality – for example using vegetable oil instead of coconut oil or processed honey (maybe high fructose corn syrup) instead of raw honey.
If you are following a real food diet – for whatever reason – you know what I mean.
Here are some tips that I learned along the way that may help.
5 Tips for Helping Your Children Stay on a Healthy Diet While Socializing
- Teach your kids about which foods are best and which foods are really terrible like highly processed foods in packages and boxes – foods that are artificially colored and flavored and junk foods in general.
- Discuss with your children the food choices they can make in school (one of the worst places to learn about nutrition)! I used to have my son bring home the jolly ranchers he earned in school for a more appropriate snack/treat. Because he understood why that was a bad food choice, he was able to turn it in for something better.
- If there is a social event, party, activity or gathering, feed your children before they go to the social event so they will not be hungry and less likely to make poor choices.
- When going to the home of a friend or family member always offer to bring a dish that you would want your family to eat so they have a good choice.
- Be flexible if you can. If someone is on a healing diet like SCD, GAPS or AIP, it is hard to be flexible as these diets have to be practiced with a certain fanaticism. Most people do not understand that. I had constant battles with my family and friends about why it has to be so strict.
They just didn’t get that one molecule of a reactive substance (gluten, casein, sugar) could initiate a cascade of inflammation and cause symptoms. They didn’t understand that the whole reason for the diet was due to a condition that caused severe symptoms – but could be controlled by diet.
They believed that I was a fanatic (even though I am a doctor – albeit alternative doctor) and that I was going to damage my kid’s psyche by insisting on this diet.
I calmly stated, over and over, the diet has to be followed carefully. In the end I used to provide him with a meal that I cooked. If they were having pizza, I provided a grain free pizza. If they were having cake, I provided a grain free cake.
To this day, some family and friends do not understand why he couldn’t have processed cake or pizza once in a while…
Do you have this issue with family and friends? How do you handle it? Please share your solutions in the comments!