Recently someone said to me “As I was gaining weight, why didn’t any of my friends or family say something?” “Why didn’t they ask me: What is wrong?”
I found this to be a profound statement. It is so difficult to discuss someone’s weight gain. To say I love you, so I want to make sure you are alright. Why is that? Why are we afraid to discuss the elephant in the room.
We don’t have to be cruel we just need to show our concern.
This brings me to other areas - if we find an article or several articles debunking a diet or worse yet showing true health scares because of the diet - do we share it? I think there is a fear that the person will avoid us or that we will look like a know it all.
As a vegan this is very true. I have yet to meet a vegan within their first year of transition that doesn’t try to change everyone they meet. Myself included. It’s like you have found the fountain of youth or health and can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to run to it. So, as a healthy vegan (many are not - a diet of French fries and Oreos does not make a healthy person) do you look like a pompous (again) know it all if you become concerned for someone on Adkins, Keto, Paleo or the standard American diet. And as much as I feel I am correct with my food choices through the way I feel and investigation - others may feel the same way about their diets.
How would I and how have I reacted when someone sent me articles or spoke to me about what they considered to be the perils of a vegan diet?
Is it different if you become concerned because a friend is doing an exercise program that has been shown to be injury prone? Or if you tell someone they may need to blow their nose or get some dental floss? What if you learn about something that affects their life or don’t like the person they are involved with either romantically or even another friend they have that you feel may be toxic?
And then there is the gossip? When we aren’t up front and talk about the person’s weight gain or choices or the juicy gossip about them to others. What type of person are we, then? Is it better to be upfront and honest with the fear of losing a friend or looking like we are “superior”?
That’s the word: Superior. When we share our thoughts do we come across as if we are better in some way? How do we express ourselves on the same level but with concern and caring?
What things are okay to say and what things aren’t? Is health taboo and if so, what happens when our friends and family get sick. If it is not taboo to discuss health, fitness, relationships then where do we place the line we shouldn’t cross?
I recently ran into this situation and here is how I handled it. I first evaluated who I was talking to. I am thankful that my friend is open minded. I asked permission first “I have learned some things about the diet you are on, would you like me to share them with you or would you prefer that I keep what I have learned to myself?” By doing this I believe I have allowed the conversation to develop in a way that we were both comfortable. Because she is open-minded she said yes, please share. Once I did so, I was done. This will not be an ongoing discussion unless she brings it up. It was an opportunity to share what I had learned and then allow my friend to make the best choices she can for herself as an informed person.
Life is filled with lines in the sand, poor choices, uncomfortable conversations and decisions to make. We are all on different paths and have learned from various sources. In the end, the bigger question may always lie with the way we present the information and the reason we present it in the first place. Taking a loving approach, knowing that our way is not always the best way and listening when we are given direction, advise, information and asked loving questions because someone cares. It’s not always dishing it out, sometimes it’s taking it in with the same openness that we hope is extended to us as we share our thoughts.