I can't link to them, but I'll paste in the *long* rant I'm 2/3rds of the way through with. Suffice to say, you have the right to say "No, thank you" and have that be respected. If your boss can't respect it, respect it yourself.
Crazy Diet People, Part One
Posted on April 6, 2011 by Joy
Way back when, I had a vegan husband. He wasn’t just any vegan, he was one of those vegans who actually didn’t own a piece of leather, avoided drinking beer, and wouldn’t use china because of the bone in it. I learned to cook vegan, pack food to other people’s houses, and make polite excuses for his unconventional diet. When we got divorced, one of my favorite things was not having to explain. I relished being able to accept an invitation to a friend’s house for dinner without asking for special accommodations or packing a seperate meal. I loved being able to accept, eat and enjoy anything offered to me. I never wanted to be one of those “Crazy Diet People” again.
Fast-forward a couple years, and Kelsy and I realized that for our son’s health, we’d have to go gluten-free. After some improvements without gluten, we did more research and decided to commit to the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Diet as a family. Even my ex-husband got involved, gave up his vegetarian ways, and started the GAPS Diet. Once on the GAPS Diet, we saw miraculous changes in both of the kids, and all three of us parents noticed our own positive changes as well. We were on our way toward restoring balance in our bodies and minds. Sticking to the diet, though, meant that we could no longer eat everything anyone offered us.
Refusing a well-intentioned offering is uncomfortable, and can be hurtful to the person who tried to accomodate the diet. They offered it up in love, and did their best to provide something safe for us to enjoy together. Not accepting this gift can be read as insulting. Not only am I implying I don’t trust their cooking, but I’m also putting my health above their friendship. I don’t think there’s an easy way around these implications… mostly because they’re true. I love my friends but I can not fully trust what food they have to offer because most of them have not:
- Done all the research necessary to understand our dietary needs
- Done the prep-work necessary to provide a truly gluten-free kitchen and GAPS Intro-legal ingredients
- Committed to improving their own health the way we have committed to improving ours
I don’t hold those things against them, and I don’t have negative judgement for them, either. While I may tell people how great GAPS has been for me, I don’t think everyone needs to live just like me. Each person has a unique set of priorities and an individual physical and emotional landscape that has nothing to do with what is working for my family at the moment.
However, years as a homeschooler and “Crazy Diet Person” have taught me that when one makes a choice that’s different from what most people do, explaining that choice – or even just exercising it – can be read as an attack. I just want to be able to politely decline an offering or bring my own food – without being seen as rude! Recently what I’ve caught myself doing to try to avoid hurting people’s feelings is mentioning “Our Crazy Diet.” I’ve hoped that they’ll understand that I just need to bring my own food and that I don’t expect them to try to figure out how to provide something for me.
The trouble is, it doesn’t really work. By trying to avoid hurting other people’s feelings, I’ve been asking them to discount me and my family as “Crazy Diet People,” and minimize the actual importance of the diet to our health. I’m pretty sure that needs to change.
Stay tuned for Crazy Diet People, Part Two, in which a “Crazy Diet Person” realizes her diet really is kind of crazy… in a good way
Crazy Diet People, Part 2
In part one I came to the conclusion that writing myself off as a "Crazy Diet Person" isn't the best choice I can make when describing our diet or turning down an offer of a meal. If we want to succeed at maintaining our family's health through our diet, we need to believe in it, and not discount ourselves out of hand. We need to be clear on the reasons what we are doing actually makes good sense.
But maybe our diet is kind of crazy, just like any diet that bucks the Standard American Diet (SAD) seems kind of crazy to people who haven't stepped back and really thought about it. It takes more thought, preparation, and sometimes money to find, buy, and prepare quality food. In our convenience-oriented culture, putting this much energy into our diet is far from normal.
Compared to the USDA Food Pyramid, the GAPS Diet is pretty much upside down and backwards. Instead of basing our diet on grains, we eliminate them. Instead of counting calories and eliminating fat, we make sure we eat enough saturated fat to feel full.
From a food safety standpoint, we're bucking the system, too. Instead of relying on FDA regulations for big factory farms to keep our food safe, we rely on local farmers we've visited with in person. Instead of pasteurizing our milk, we culture it. Instead of cooking eggs through after they've been bleached and stored at the perfect temperature, we get our eggs in the back yard and eat our yolks raw.
Even as a part of the organic, whole foods movement, we're a little bit crazy. Plenty of whole foods aren't on our shopping list, and plenty of what's on the shelf at Whole Foods and similar markets is industrial processed crap. Rather than worrying only about whether the label says organic, we look at all the ingredients, the packaging, and the processes used in the factory or farm before making a decision.
On top of all this, our culture is full of fad diets whose misguided objective is to make a person skinny. That idea of diet is what has formed most people's frame of reference. Most diets are optional, bad for one's health, and hard to maintain. Most people see someone like me and think I look skinny and healthy, so what does it really matter, just this once? They see slipping on a diet as a treat with no real consequences. They don't understand why someone wouldn't want to "indulge." They may remember me eating the things I now refuse, with no observed ill-effect... but they weren't there in the bathroom with me later, and didn't have to live with my mental and neurological issues, which are now markedly improved.
Additionally, the average person might understand my son's need to avoid gluten, since the doctors agree he most likely has celiac disease, but they might not see that cross-contamination could really have an effect, or accept that packaged "gluten-free" products may prevent his healing. We're especially "crazy" because we're taking our health into our own hands. Trying to cure a slew of symptoms through diet and fixating on what's in our food rather than taking cocktails of prescription and over-the-counter medicines to suppress them seems like a lot of work for no good reason to most Americans.
But look at it in the context of the history of food, and a different picture emerges. Before the industrial food system, the green revolution, and government subsidies for commodity crops, people ate real, organic food without even trying. You didn't have to be focused on what was in your food in order to avoid additives, preservatives, and hidden allergens - foods were not packaged that way. Most people bought their meat from a butcher, their produce from a farmer, and cooked on the stove instead of out of a plastic microwave tray. Foods were not sprayed with corn or irradiated. GMO products hadn't been invented.
That doesn't mean life was perfect back then, or that everyone enjoyed a healthy diet and no health problems... but it does mean that we have introduced an almost unthinkable amount of toxicity and poor nutrition into our diets over the past century or so. Having made a connection between this toxic load and the recent health epidemics of allergies, digestive problems, ADHD, diabetes, autism, depression, etc, it seems crazy not to try and do something about it.
Having personally felt the benefits of improving nutrition, reducing toxic load, and sticking to foods that heal us rather than harm us, it's also pretty hard to hold my tongue when I see others suffering with the same kinds of health issues our family is recovering from or used to experience. Not surprisingly, this can make me come off as a food evangelist if I'm not careful!
It can be tough to find a way to avoid acting like a "Crazy Diet Person" while making the choices that will support our health. To make a special diet successful and satisfying, every person who lives with one needs to strike a balance between healthy choices and good manners. How we do that won't look the same for everyone, but it's something we need to figure out to make our positive changes last, because it would be truly crazy to compromise our health for the sake of social grace.
Coming Up: The final installment of Crazy Diet People, Part 3 - in which I learn to simply say "No, thank you."