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Explaining Diet To Others

Tarilee’s Top Ten Social Tips re the Candida Diet

by Tarilee Cornish, CNP

Almost every culture in the world connects around food, especially during the Holidays. The experience of eating differently amidst the expectations, curiosity and confusion of those around you will almost certainly challenge your social graces at some point. But with a little preparation, you can reduce any related stress and thus preserve your success on your program.

Given how hard you've worked to create positive change in your health, it can come as a surprise that your friends and family might be less enthusiastic than you had hoped about your changes. A little patience with their reactions can go a long way. For those who like to lovingly prepare your favorite foods or those who enjoy your company over the experience of a mutually favorite meal, your new foods will represent significant change for them as well.

This top ten list is designed to help you stay the course with the food choices that make sense for youby providing strategies and reflections that can help you share your changes with others in a confident, graceful way, regardless of their initial reactions.

As you become more comfortable with your new ways of socializing around food, you'll soon realize that while you're taking care of yourself, you can also take heart in the way that your changes can help others. More importantly, you can find some fun in laughter about the bumps along the way.


When talking about food, you will be received most positively when you positively describe your candida diet (or food therapy program.) People would rather hear how much better you've been feeling because of your new food choices rather than what you 'have to' eat or what you 'can't eat.' For example, "Since I gave up sugar I've had so much more energy and clarity and I've lost five pounds!" This will go over better than a sermon about the dangers of sugar. However, if they are truly interested (more on this below), you can offer up an inspiring comment such as, "When I found out that a teaspoon of sugar suppresses my immune system by 50% for five hours, I decided to give it up."

'Too much information' can be experienced by others as boring, judgmental (of their habits) or as pressure to change. Therefore, on the subject of food and health, as passionate as you may be, it's important to offer information about what you've discovered only when asked. Be aware of the "Born again Nutritionist Syndrome," and be alert to the attention span of your listener. They may not be as interested in what you're discovering about food as you are. Let them show you they are still interested by allowing them to ask more questions. And you can ask them questions too- about what they think and about any experimentation they may have done around eating.

Remember that new information about food that is radically different from another person's habits can be received with skepticism no matter how well informed or enthusiastic you are. To prevent unsolicited advice or judgment that may shake your trust in your own self care- again, remember to keep the sharing brief and also frame it from a 'what I've learned' perspective rather than as 'The Truth.'

Your own careful research; consultation with practitioners you trust; and experimentation will be your best guides along your path to health improvement. Though many will share their idea of 'The Way', their opinions will be more relevant to their unique needs than yours. Understanding your own health care needs requires learning, experimentation and self-observation, which leads in the direction of self-knowledge. To regain our health we must deepen our resolve to honor what we know about the food choices vitalize us.

(LaoTzu.) Though you may have healthy resolve, bringing along a delicious dish you can enjoy sharing with others can make an event much more enjoyable for you while reducing your temptation to bend your food plans. Another trick is to eat a little something at home before you go so that light nibbles, (if there are limited healthy foods for you there), will sustain you and you'll be lest tempted to fill up on other things.

As for will power at home, there may be some foods that your family enjoys having in the house that 'unhinge' you and thus risk your success. If this is the case, consider the benefit of 'trading' mutual, temporary 'renunciations.' If a family member balks at your initial request to keep a certain food out of the house for a time, you might offer to give up something in return. Ideally, one way or another, you can arrange for their cooperation at least for the early, impressionable stage of your program. For example, maybe your teenage son who feels he must have a freezer full of ice cream would give that up for a time in support of your program. If not, maybe he'd be open to this if you offered to give up your indulgence in loud, Sunday morning classical music. A mutual arrangement that works for everyone is usually possible.

You can choose to socialize at your own home rather than face the challenges of going out. Consider inviting a small group of people over for a meal that you prepare completely yourself. Alternately, you can name it a potluck and prepare as many dishes as you like to broaden the healthy options.

If you do choose to go to a friend’s home, you can tell your host that you love to cook and that you'd enjoy bringing something to share. This is likely to be appreciated and then you can be sure to have at least one dish that works for you.

When invited out, try to remember that your host wants you to enjoy yourself. You can mention that you're on a food therapy program right now that makes for very specific food choices and that you often bring some food to share when you go out. However, if they would rather prepare something specific that will work for you, concise clarity is important. You could offer simple suggestions that will be compatible with their planned meal. For example, maybe they are planning a deep fried chicken meal, you could ask for plain, grilled meat. It's important to be exquisitely respectful and precise when describing simple seasoning ideas (like olive oil and lemon juice), perhaps simply adding, "no sweets, yeast, vinegar or additives."

Similar to the way being pregnant solicits advice from everyone, being unwell also solicits advice from well meaning friends and family. If you've lost weight or are in a low point in your recovery, loved ones may claim that your unusual diet must be the culprit. If you're not feeling your best because of a detoxification phase, you can briefly explain the ‘feeling worse before feeling better’ concept. Or if your diet is helping you feel better, your exclamations about how much better you're feeling and how hopeful you are about continued improvement may reassure. Also, calling it a food therapy program rather than 'a diet' will help, especially if you're trying to gain weight.

Remember that in an indulgent, developed society that values food mostly by taste alone, alternative diet principles may be judged as restrictive and be subject to criticism. Some people will even criticize you if they know your choices are wise. This type of pressure may come from their own feelings of guilt about not being more discerning with their own habits. It may come from fear related to past experience with eating disorders. If you're clear that you are eating an enjoyable, nutritionally-diverse diet that fits your ethics and helps your health, then stay your course. Strive to remain humble and enjoy quiet confidence in trying to set a good example.

Your new resolve may be inspiring to others, even if at first they are unreceptive to the idea of giving up some of their favorite foods. You are potentially helping others just by caring enough to do what you're doing. Your demonstration of the strength it takes to make positive changes can be encouraging to others who want to improve their health or their connection to nutritious food.

Your friends and family may be surprised at your changes initially. They may feel awkward trying to relate to your food choices. Laughter almost always helps. As Whole Approach Forum members explain, “Sometimes just an 'out there' explanation like being on an, "Eye of Newt diet" or claiming that "sugar makes you melt" is all that's needed to maintain ease. :)

And finally, keep in mind that, if you're just adjusting to the initial stages of your diet, it's likely easier to stay home for a few weeks until you adjust to the changes yourself. Then you'll be coming from a stronger, more positive 'place' in case you do face some scrutiny. And, if you're on the right track, you're also likely to inspire more support since you'll have clear eyes and a glow in your complexion!


For further ideas on how to thrive in social settings, here is a link to a great thread on the Whole Approach forum where you can read the suggestions and successes of your fellow members:

How To Explain To Others

Tarilee Cornish is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner with a special interest in immune and digestive recovery including general detoxification and recovery from food allergies and candida overgrowth. She is especially passionate about pure healing food choices that have a democratic, ecological and compassionate production and distribution chain. Tarilee is a moderator on the WholeApproach Support Forum.

Copyright © 2011 Whole Approach, Inc. All rights reserved.


To complement the above information I've included the following discussion previously posted on the forum. This discussion includes some excellent mutual support from many member contributors. I think you'll enjoy the tips and sharing:


Hi Everyone,

I was wondering if anyone experiences a sense of social isolation on the CRC diet. My closest friends and family know about my CRC issues and they understand about my diet but I find that I feel very self-conscious meeting new people. So much of our social life revolves around food. If I were to tell someone I just met all the foods I don't eat they would think I was a hypochondriac. I am single and dating is a difficult thing for me as I have a hard time explaining this to someone I recently met.

Does anyone else experience this and if so how do you handle it?

Thanks !

Mary


Hi Mary,

I don't know how much advice I can give you. About the only thing I can say is that you are not alone. My family understands (for the most part), but I have stopped doing a lot of things that revolve around food and/or drinks. Since I am committed to recovering and beating my CRC problem, I won't let anything stand in my way. It's not that I don't have the will power to say no, because I do, it is all the explaining and people don't understand and I just don't want to explain it in detail like it should be in order to give it a proper explanation.

I'm not much good at giving advice, so feel free to criticize mine, but I would think that if you were going to go on a new date, just be upfront about it and explain to your date that you are on a special medical diet and therefore have certain food restrictions, like someone with diabetes would and leave it at that. I guess if they can't understand and accommodate you with that, would they be good enough for you in the long run? You could always try doing date things that don't involve food.

Just Joe


Hi Mary and Joe,

The thing I find most difficult about the diet in many ways is saying "no" at social gatherings and having to explain to others why I'm not eating anything. I find there's definitely social pressure to eat as others eat. And with good friends it's not a problem of course but...

As you might have imagined by now, I went on an unfortunate eating binge at my friend's baby shower the other day. Of course it was my choice and now I'm suffering the consequences and I'm learning... but I had a thought... I was wondering if people could post their strategies for saying "no thanks" or how they explain their food restrictions to others... I know it would help me and perhaps it would help others?

Thanks,

Meg


Meg,

I know what you're saying. I think we've all been there and had a hard time explaining why we can't eat what everyone else is eating, or if there's nothing we can eat, why we can't eat at all. I also lost a bunch of weight on this diet, so when I'm in that situation around people who don't know me or understand my illness/diet restrictions, they get this look on their face that I know means they think that I have an eating disorder...it makes me pretty mad. Anyway, here's a reply I gave to Maggie a while back on this topic:

Going out to eat is one of the hardest things to face in the beginning (or anytime really). One of the biggest things that helps me get through social events where you have to eat, is simply the way you present it. To avoid getting into too personal information or having to talk about anything that you don't want to, I find it helps just to nonchelantly mention that I have a lot of food allergies (if an explanation seems needed). Since digestive problems & food allergies seem to be linked our candida problem, it's an easy way to minimally explain, yet still get around the uncomfortable specifics

And if you just mention general food allergies, rather than listing all the avoid foods, then it will seem less awkward. If they ask specifics, I wave it off by saying there are too many to list. Hopefully that will be enough of a hint to prevent any other questions.

To add to that: even if you don't have specific food allergies...well, it's much easier to explain it this way than getting into the whole yeast explanation. Or else you could say that you have some digestive problems right now, so it's best for you to avoid certain foods. And that's got to be true of anyone with this illness. You can even tell them that your nutritionist told you to eat this way - right Tarilee?

Another thing I like to do is keep a snack on hand at all times. This is mostly because my stomach seems to control my life & I am ALWAYS hungry and need to eat (hypoglycemic), but it also makes those awkward social times a little easier when you at least have something to eat. Then you won't feel so out of place & others won't notice the difference as much because you aren't sitting there empty-handed while they stuff their faces. It's good all around, you see.

Easy foods to keep in your purse, car, or bag: nuts (almonds, sunflower seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc) & rice cakes are the easiest. You can also bring a tupperware container of veggies - carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery. You can even bring a nutbutter or homemade dip (guac or veggie dip). I also keep a few tea bags or small seltzer waters on hand so that I can also have something fun to drink. I'll even bring a baggie of homemade cookies or muffins when I know other people will be eating sweets - then there is almost no temptation to eat "real" sweets.

Well, I hope these ideas help! There are probably ideas listed in the diet FAQs or the Getting Started section of the forum too.

Take care,

Tia


Hi,

Personally, I found it easier not to talk about too much in social settings. My immediate family understands, like others have mentioned, but it's true: When you try to describe it to others, they think you're nuts.

Through the years, it seems my "radar" has improved and there are more people who care about what they eat, so it's easier. Many people find it fascinating now. I don't find it so isolating. But in the beginning it sure was. Now I feel like I'm mostly "cured" if I don't stray too much from the diet, and it's easier.

For me, it was wonderful to realize that if I didn't mention it, people didn't notice what was on my plate as much as I thought they did. I tried to concentrate on enjoying the people I was with and not feel deprived. I started this diet May 07 (I think). Right before Grad parties! I was hungry at most of them, but I stuck with it. Quickly, I learned to eat before I went!

Hang in there! It's worth it! I feel so much better!

GayAnn


Hi Meg,

This is definitely the worst part for me. Especially because I feel that my husbands family thinks it's all hogwash anyway. They never really say much and they know how sick I was and that now I am much better, but I still get that feeling around them.

We are going on a picnic with them next week and the main dishes are barbecued meats and ham : ( I am trying to decide if I should just eat a little ham or what I should do. I just hate feeling like everyone thinks I am weird. I also hate when everyone's attention is on me at a table because of what I am or am not eating. I usually just eat before I go so that things don't look so tempting. Tia- I also take things with me when I am with people that are very nice and understanding about it.

Everyone at our chuch has been so supportive. We do a lot of social things because we are a small church and so of course there is always food. I just feel so bad when people try and plan there menu around me. I feel like they probably would rather just not invite me over than to have to worry about what I will eat.

The absolute worst though is when someone makes something that they think I can have and it is just special for me and I really shouldn't eat it. Oh well, thanks for listening. This post just came at a time when I needed to vent. I was just trying to decide today what to do about two different social (eating) situations this next week. I am trying to decide which is worse eating the least of the evils available or facing the stress of doing something else.

Wendy


Wendy,

For the picnic, maybe you could bring some turkey meat - it's rare, but there are some acceptable kinds available at natural food stores like Whole Foods. And even if it contains dextrose, it's going to be better than ham, which always has either sugar or honey in it.

Or else you can BBQ up some chicken breast & make a homemade sauce for it. I've done olive oil, minced garlic, and lime juice as a marinade for grilled chicken & it was pretty tasty. I know how hard it can be in those situations. In the beginning, before my family really understood that this diet was what I truly needed, they would always be like "Oh, just a little bit isn't going to hurt you" or "what? you can't eat that? why?!"...and it was tough at first, but then they understood, adjusted, and fully supported me with it. Now, even if they don't fully get it, they are great about supporting me regardless.

As tough as it is for you to feel awkward in those social settings, I wouldn't let that pressure me into eating things if I don't want to. Easier said than done, I know. But they will eventually have to accept that this is your decision & it's what's best for you...or else they should learn to keep their opinions to themselves. Sorry if I sound rude about it, I don't mean to. It's just that it's your life and you shouldn't be made to feel weird about your diet, especially from those who know the explanation behind it.

If I were you, I would bring a dish that I could eat (like the BBQ chicken I mentioned above, along with a yummy side dish) and then rave about how good it is. HA! They can't think you're that weird if you're eating awesome food! But seriously, make something that you know is great & share it with them. If things are too awkward for them to make a dish that's acceptable for you to eat, then just always bring one that you can have, and bring enough to share a little.

That way, you won't stand out nearly as much - you can eat, and you won't be alone eating it if you share it too. And if they know how good the food is that you can eat, then they won't have much to say after that. Again, I know it's much easier for me to say it than for you, who is actually in the situation. But I hope it works out. Good luck with the picnic - I hope you enjoy it. Just try to be confident, because YOU know what is good for you, and what will help you get well.

Tia


Hi,

I've been experiencing some isolation, too. Sometimes this makes for wide mood swings and this can be difficult to be around. Fortunately -- for the first time -- my husband and I went to a party. I put my food in a medium sized lunchbox with cold packs. I picked up a plate, put a bunch of greens and black olives on this and then added all of my own foods to the plate. It was filled to the brim. No one even noticed that I had any foods other than what was being served. The ONLY akward moment was when they cut birthday cake -- homemade -- very tempting. I had no desire, though. One friend of my husband knew about my special diet and forgot -- offered me cake but quickly just said, "Oh yeah... I forgot. Oh well."

It was really a GREAT evening.

I still feel a bit isolated during the week but it seems more self-imposed.

Little Mermaid


I think we've all had to contend with this subject, haven't we? I used to just tell folks I was on a "diet." Since I'm still about 20-25 lbs overweight that usually shuts them up. Then there are always the people who want to know .... "Oh, are you doing weight watchers or low carb?" To which they want to know all the details. sigh... If I'm feeling especially peckish and prickly, I'll say that I'm on a natural foods diet that contains nothing artificial and no preservatives. This usually brings facial expressions similar to aghast or consternation.

I take the lead from that and sometimes say, "Yes, and next month I'll be joining a commune in San Francisco where I"ll be able to grow my own organic vegetables and wear skirts made from hemp. I'll even be able to dye my own skirts with all the leftover veggie juice." Sometimes I get really carried away .... "Did you know that if you juice an organic carrot during a full moon that it will turn the loveliest shade of chartreuse? You have to remember to sacrifice a tadpole though during the first of the month or it won't work. And if you don't yodel during the sacrifice all will be lost."

As you can see, I can get rather aggravated with "well meaning" folks at times. I mean, would they try to force alcohol upon a recovering alcoholic? If I say that I can't and don't eat sugar in any form -- I mean what I say. And please don't try to force any on me. Boy it sure felt good to complain. Thanks for the opportunity to vent! lol!

Sharon


Hey, I really like what you say, Sharon, about the recovering alcoholic. Not to minimize how difficult it must be to be an alcoholic, but I can appreciate the analogy. There definitely is a lack of understanding of the seriousness of food/allergy issues. I was so frustrated the other day when my father and mother (who has food allergies of her own) offered me "just a small bite" of strawberry rhubarb pie. I said 'no' but was frustrated that they didn't understand how addictive sugar is for me and how even a small bite will throw me off. I guess it's hard to understand if you haven't been there.

You know, I think part of it is that people feel guilty about the food they're eating. Like, they won't feel as guilty if others are doing as they are (ie eating poorly)... and I guess it's awkward for them being around someone who seems to have more control over his/her food choices (or the illusion of control!).

Tia, those were some great suggestions. I think I find it particularly difficult at the moment because I was overseas for a while and through this program I lost a fair bit of weight. So, when I see people for the first time in 6 months, I do look quite different and so there are so many judgments and questions... and I usually don't want to go into the whole story. But, it also feels as though I'm constantly having to explain myself. I don't think I realized how much emphasis people place on appearances and weight until now. But, I imagine over time this will all get easier! But, you're right Tia: "they will eventually have to accept that this is your decision & it's what's best for you."

I guess the good thing is that the slip-ups make me realize how important the diet is for me. While it's not good for candida in the short term, I think the rare but occasional slip-up helps us get back on track and therefore is good for candida in the long term! All the best Wendy, Tia, and Sharon... it is difficult but worth it, no?!

Take care,

Meg


It's pretty amazing to me how far I've come. Not with respect to healing, but mentally. While I still may think about having a beer or something like pizza every now and then, I have a larger overriding thought and feeling that I just would rather not. I think about how the old foods I would eat would just make me feel bad. I equate the two now. It's kind of hard to describe how I feel about it.

Would it be nice to eat real bread again? Sure. And be able to have things that have certain ingredients in them, sure... but that's where I want to leave it, being able to not have to worry so much about if something has yeast in it, or vinegar, or some of the other limit items.

I've felt so good the last month, I don't ever want to feel bad again. I like feeling good, and I like being healthy. My BP at my last Dr's visit was 117 / 72. I have a flat stomach now since I've lost that extra 10 pounds I was carrying. Now all I have to do is get that washboard I've always wanted

I went out with some friends the other night and we all went out to Fridays for a drink after a movie and it was no big deal they drank and I didn't.

Just Joe


Wow Joe,

It makes my heart sing to hear the joy of someone who's discovered a new way to self care and health!

Congratulations on all your hard work!

Tarilee


You women are just wonderful! I love the ideas presented here and the way you have all stepped in to offer your ingenious coping strategies to each other. This kind of sharing is SO important. I fully agree with Tia that just stating matter of factly, something along the lines of, "I have digestion problems and they result in food intolerances."

If you take firm responsibility for what you can and can't eat and do not act apologetically or embarrassed, others will more quickly develop respect and acceptance around your decisions about what is right for your health.

If people press you can clearly state that you want to feel as well as you possibly can because you are recovering your health. Thus you're on a therapeutic diet and eating only the purest foods that you tolerate well and leave it at that.

Getting into the details with anyone other than close friends just exposes you to uninformed judgments from the folks who don't understand. Then all you have to do is resist the temptation to eat foods that will make you feel ill! Lao Tzu, a famous Taoist teacher says, "I can resist anything except temptation."

Take good care guys and keep up the great work!

Tari-Lee


I'm glad some of you were able to laugh. Humor is easy when you're sitting at the computer and typing -- it's far harder to be gracious and humorous when you're being pressured to eat things that are not good for you. Especially when that pressure is cloaked by "well intentioned" gestures. I don't tell people about my CRC.

But it inevitably comes up in situations where eating is involved. Even visiting with neighbors for "coffee." I answer their questions with simple answers but everyone usually ends up wanting to know more ... or so they think .... once I supply a bit more information they start to think the diet sounds weird.

Sometimes I just give up (especially if I'm feeling irritable) and I just say I'm on the Eye of Newt diet recommended by the American Association For The Beautification And Improvement Of The Bodily Organs And Tissues -- or whatever comes to mind. Sometimes I'll also say that I"m like the Wicked Witch from Oz -- sugar makes me melt and that's why I can't have any. But I have to be careful not to say that around small kids -- I don't want them to think I'm really a witch.

Anyone have any good advice on how to explain to my serious boyfriend what's wrong with me and why I'm changing my eating habits? I need something short, and attention grabbing but not all icky and female, and I just don't want to sound like a whiner or a hypochondriac.

I was debating telling him at all. But then he may just think I'm becoming a really picky eater. I'd like to share with him, I guess, is what I'm really saying, but I don't know how. I don't know if he'll understand, and I don't think he'll want to hear a long involved explanation or a list of "female" symptoms. Anyway, any suggestions?? Thanks a lot. You all are wonderful.

Chloe


Hi Chloe,

I don't remember if you said you had any "female" symptoms of the CRC but if you don't, there's no reason that he should see this issue as a "female issue."

If you don't have vaginal yeast then you don't have to tell him all about that and you also don't have to use the word "yeast". However you may well want him to understand the issues completely. Depending on his level of biology knowledge, he may not want an in depth explanation of yeast verses fungus or anything like that. However he may want to know exactly what is going on. A lot of this is really a question you'll need to ask your heart.

I could come up with some explanations that are partial but only if you are really sure that's what you want to do in this situation. And what you would tell him if you were going to leave some of the details out, would depend upon what is the most truthful, most relevant explanation as far as your individual health concerns go.

You could explain Leaky Gut Syndrome. You could explain immune weakness, digestive issues and the subsequent temporary food intolerances. You could explain blood sugar sensitivity...etc. Best to pick what will make the most sense and be the most relevant to your situation.

Explaining how ALL of these are related to CRC can be pretty overwhelming for someone to hear. In my opinion the most important thing you can communicate to him is that you are not well, that you will need to give some extra nurturing to yourself and that you are taking responsibility for your health and are trying hard to recover.

Hopefully, he's the kind of person who respects people for looking closely at solutions and taking good care of their health.

Tarilee


Ok, Thanks to you all for your input. It is hard to pick out which things to include him in, and I didn't want to scare or overwhelm him; but I do want him to know I'm serious about this, and that I'd like his support.

We are not sexually active so I think I'll skip explaining the vaginal yeast. He might not want to know about that anyway! But yes the leaky gut, and food intolerances, and blood sugar sensitivity, and immune system sensitivity. Those I think are all pretty straightforward issues I can share with him without getting too in depth.

Thanks for your suggestions. I think it just helps to have people who understand (because they've been there) that you can bounce ideas off and share with!

And thanks Tarilee for all your encouragement. I really need it right now for some reason. This shouldn't be so hard. I think it goes back to what Sharon said maybe, in that it's a whole life change, and very non-mainstream. Nice to see so many examples here of people who've managed to do it.

Chloe


Hi Chloe,

Please be sure that you don't underestimate the challenge that you are taking on. You've accomplished a lot already. There are few changes more challenging than lifestyle and diet change. Sharon's right, "swimming against the tide" takes a lot of extra courage, innovation and resilience. You're doing great! Keep up the awesome efforts and you will reap the benefits.

Tarilee


Here in Texas there is a place called "Heritage Homestead" about an hour and a half from us. They have a restaurant where they prepared things fresh from their gardens and have grass fed beef. I didn't have any pain from their meals. It's a great little community where they teach woodworking, farming, making your own clothes from the hand-pun yarn and pottery crafts. They believe in going back to the earth. It's not exactly Amish so things are very colorful and they have a store of all of their own crafts that they sell. They have trails to walk through and it's just a peaceful place. Anyway, if you are ever these necks of the woods -- you might just want to visit there. The menu still has a lot of things I can't eat but enough that it was very satisfying.

Little Mermaid