My most recent Old Swimmer post in another wordpress blog touched on the balance of appropriateness in another area of life, talking about religion and evangelists. Of course the same sort of sweaty palms business comes up when one talks about politics. There has to be a sensitivity factor observed, I decided. The matter of obesity and self-starvation is another of those very delicate issues.
The OBESITY issue and conversely, ANOREXIA issue is often, in fact, an urgent matter of life and death!! And one of the triggers for people afflicted with either of these dangerous eating disorders is TALKING TO THEM ABOUT IT! They already have a resident bullying inner voice hammering the message home. More bullying is counterproductive.
So I am interested in this as regards PALEO/PRIMAL matters because I personally played a part in an evangelistic crusade to help me (the targeted needy one) get better from a pretty nasty illness that my daughter perceived as related to my diet. (of all the nerve!)
I was offended, and in fact, critical, of her new paleolithic approach. She was getting thinner and thinner, and really worried me a lot. I have another relative who went through a terrible time with anorexia– and she really did nearly die. This thinness thing was frightening!
Not only that but she had her husband on the diet too! Not only was he wrestling with blood sugar issues, but also with hypertension and heart concerns. How could she, I wondered, expose him to such a drastic change without causing him even more trouble? He got thin too, and even gaunt looking, to my eye, which was used to seeing him as a big, thick construction guy who was rather hyperactive (seems like energy at work) and busy all the time. My father was a type 1 diabetic and lived a very brittle life between insulin and sugar– often having diabetic shock and sometimes coma episodes. My dad died of related failures; he was blind and a double amputee when he died. And very thin.
So the reaction I had was one of alarm, and now they were on ME to adopt this crazy thing!
I didn’t have a weight problem, but I had been really really ill all winter, with digestive issues, gut issues, migraines, very stiff joints, and excessive fatigue and dizziness, among other things. My whole body felt it– skin, teeth, bones, muscles, nerves, brain. And my paleo proselytizer wanted to feed me all the fatty stuff I’d been carefully avoiding, and take away my staple whole grain breads and Mediterranean pastas and my beans! How in the world would I dare to try such a thing?
Well, we are used to a bit of proselytizing in my family, for reasons of people’s particular faiths, and we have done at least some of the following, each one of us: doing the blah blah blah, receiving the onslaught of it, running fast in the other direction from the campaign, being polite and resenting it silently, or loudly, shutting the proselytizer entirely out of our lives, coming down on the annoying person with outrage and making a big family federal case out of it, being the subject of critical relatives whispering since we apparently believed in this malarkey, or we were converted, and became evangelistic ourselves!
How do we successfully present anything that is of great value, no matter what category it might fall under, to people we care about whom we believe would definitely gain and not lose by believing us? And are prone to running in the opposite direction?
Famous Bible evangelist D.L. Moody is said to have evangelized aggressively, taking people by the lapels and shoving the gospel down their throats. I wonder how many people ran fast in the other direction? I know I would have steered away very fast. Though some people apparently respond to fierce confrontation, no one that I am related to does.
But my daughter the Paleo/primal evangelist was invested in my case because she really was worried. And she persisted, with respect, but with a bunch of documented facts that finally drove me to my doctor to see if this was a legitimate kind of diet or a fad. My doctor said it was legitimate and might really help me. I was surprised. Doctors and other health professionals are hobbled severely by regulatory entities and cannot speak out on “alternate” approaches without endangering their licenses. (search google on “scientific discovery and regulatory obstacles” about the limits imposed on medical professionals by their various governing bodies.)
Well! It did and does help me, and my daughter is now my hero.
But my question is what is the best approach when sharing this good thing? The carrot method, of course, is to make delicious food and present it to raves, and then say that it’s part of the new and healthier diet. Also the promoter should be a picture of success– healthy and thriving. But how intrusive can one be about this, and how do we handle rejection of our well-intended “infomercials”?
It’s not a matter of saving souls from eternal damnation, but it is similarly important when there are serious health issues. And the Paleo thing is not mainstream. So how do we find data to back up our bizarre-seeming beliefs? From Google, but who sends us there? Evangelists!
Slamming the book on people’s heads is not appropriate, of course, and arguing over the dinner table isn’t either. I am still put off by my daughter’s exercise suggestions…it’s just not “me” to commit to exercising on a definite schedule. I have asked her to shelve that campaign for the time being. She heard and is cutting me some slack.
So the “let’s all get on the bandwagon” thing doesn’t work with me. Show and tell is better, if it’s not ostentatious.
Some people will respond to group support (classes or clubs) in issues like these, loving the social aspect and mutual encouragement. Others will work on it individually and say little to friends; just decide and do it.
Here’s what I think works best:
As in any other sales persuasion pursuit, you have to read the person you are trying to persuade. You have to know when to talk about it and when to be quiet. You have to listen, and wait. And show and then tell. And wait. And keep the door open for more opportunity. And share good things to eat. And enjoy your own new health in ways that show.
People will pay attention to a person enjoying the fruits of a healthy regimen simply because they see how much it has made that person’s life better. They will begin to crave the rosy complexion and sparkling eyes and fit body, and want some of that for themselves.
Just like any other kind of evangelizing, you live what you have come to believe. The rest will follow as the path is laid open. Letting free-will do the real work, it’s a matter of sharing good data and then getting out of the way. Then giving boosts when someone seems to be ready to try it.
That’s what got MeJane to make a decision to enter in and try it for herself.
MeJane…much healthier and happier now. :)