It's everywhere: temptation. Often it's benign, like when your office environment seems to have opened a Krispy Kreme branch in your break room or at restaurants where you're presented with baskets of warm yeast rolls or tortilla chips before your tush is even nestled in the booth. That's hard enough. But there are times when the inducement feels like it's directed at you personally. When people around you are either insensitive to your efforts to avoid certain foods or, worse, might be actively trying to sabotage.
What to do in a world that's been built on sugar and grain and potatoes?
It's a hard situation. And it's constant. A knee jerk response might be "just stay strong" or "if they're a true friend they won't do that" or "don't hang out with that person".
Easily said. Implemented? Not so easy. The 'just do this' advise isn't far removed from the 'just eat less and move more' prescription for weight loss. Simple, right? Simplistic is more like it.
Leaving aside the work place, eating out and travel food challenges, dealing with those closest to us, those who should be most understanding that we're following a low carb program for health and happiness but who either don't or won't understand, is hard. Really and truly hard. The psychology of why someone would try to undermine a diet that works, particularly when you have lost weight, lowered your blood sugar or any of the other measurable health benefits of the ketogenic diet, is beyond the scope of a blog post or, frankly, of my understanding. Even if we could explain why Aunt So-and-So or that friend from work or a parent or sibling feel it's okay to wave cookies or a slice of cake or a platter of fries in front of your nose, knowing you've decided to eliminate all those things, doesn't help deal with it. We need tools to do so.
My experience, thankfully, has been much less harrowing than some I've heard. While Lovely Mate didn't eat this way for the first many months that I did, he supported it. Although he would have his customary dishes piled high with rice or potatoes or beans, chips and salsa or patacones (a delicious Colombian preparation of plantain), he respected that I wasn't going to eat any of those. Even our friends have been highly sensitive to this and, as they saw that I was losing weight and inquired about how, would make sure there were low carb options at cocktail and dinner parties. A few have even started the program themselves.
But not all are so lucky. Perhaps you're one who's had struggles in this regard? There are in-laws who seem hell bent on proving the diet doesn't work, friends who admonish at a picnic that not eating the potato salad will hurt someone's feelings, spouses who might be threatened by one's changing looks. These are serious challenges for which there's no one good solution.
In my opinion, there are certain states of mind which can only be dealt with effectively in advance. Temptation is one. In the beginning of my adventures, before I had lost enough weight to be noticed and therefore my friends didn't know my dietary preferences, I learned to gird myself before going where there were sure to be foods I was avoiding. I planned ahead and essentially psyched myself up. "Don't eat the the crackers, just the cheese." "I won't eat chips and dip, I won't, I won't, I won't". You get the idea. There was only one time I had someone wave a bowl of carbolicious nibbles under my nose, skeptical of my way of eating. Luckily by that time I was pretty entrenched and, after a couple of polite "no thanks..... really, no thank you" responses I bluntly said, "I don't eat carbs. I don't want those".
So where is all this leading? Firstly, it's understandable that temptation is hard to deal with. It's not a sign of weakness or lack of commitment. And the motivations of those who might want to manipulate us - for whatever reason - to go off program has to be left at their feet. Not in our mouths. Hard as it is, we have to be remind ourselves that we are ultimately in charge of our health. And we 100% need to be able to decide what we eat. The best approach is to assume no one is really paying that much attention to what we are doing, food-wise. Honestly, most folks are too focused on their own plates to think about what's on ours. But for those who do decide to make it their business, a gentle refusal and changing the subject usually works. If not, we have the right to stand up for ourselves, Aunt So-and-So's hurt feelings that you didn't eat a slice of her pie notwithstanding.
So, here's the takeaway, in my opinion:
#1 If someone tries to convince you it's harmless to eat something you know will derail you, remind yourself that you simply know better, and
#2If anyone tries to tell you #1 is easy, remind yourself that... you simply know better.
Please share if you've had to dodge food landmines and how you've done so. There's strength in numbers!
The information I present here is based on my own experiences and personal research. While I’ve been fortunate to have exposure to leading researchers, physicians and journalists regarding the ketogenic specifically and LCHF (low carb/high fat) more generally, we are all responsible for our own choices, including what we put in our mouths. I welcome questions, comments and even civil criticism. I’m still learning. So, if you have something to add, go for it. Thanks! - Casey