The cycle of health: make healthy choices while influencing others to do the same

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Be firm with your choices about food and don’t let others discourage you or make choices for you. 

Janice Daniels

One of the hardest parts about losing weight is telling people. Not just telling people you’re losing weight, but telling people you are no longer going to eat the crap they serve you – especially when they’re good friends and family. As I did more research on food and health, I stopped eating many of the traditional dishes my family prepared.

Of course it wasn’t easy to reject my dad’s cheesy, homemade chilaquiles, or tell him I wouldn’t eat his infamous soup unless he made a separate, meatless batch for me, but I had to start making different choices for the sake of my own well-being. 

The most wonderful thing about being the person to breakthrough that barrier, though, is it forces your friends and family to think for themselves about the food they are so offended you wouldn’t eat.

Soon enough, you will stop being offered these dishes and your hosts will start preparing healthier (or what they think is healthier) meals for you, leaving them no choice – most of the time – to eat those healthy meals too. Once they see the weight coming off of you they will want to know the secret, which really isn’t much of a secret at all.

Throughout these past few years I have developed a deep passion for food – cooking, baking, the beauty of fruits and vegetables and how different ingredients affect the body – but, most of all, a passion for influencing others.

I have never been one to force my “food beliefs” onto people but, instead, I simply use my food knowledge to inform others. I never thought the casual conversations I frequently share with others about food could trigger such drastic lifestyle changes, but they have.

Since I started eating healthy and sharing information with my family about things such as whole grains, flax, agave nectar, the malicious fast food industry and more, they have taken time to rethink their food choices. Soon as I knew it, canned fruit had disappeared from the cabinets and was replaced with colorful, fresh produce while the frozen burritos and pizzas were replaced with frozen fruits, vegetables and other healthful goodness.

My parents now see purpose in their local health food store, the farmers market and even appliances such as blenders for fresh fruit smoothies.

After years of watching my mom struggle with her weight, diets, salads and raisins, it is great to see she has finally left the “dieting” behind and has changed her eating habits for good. Like me, she has trained her mind to be satisfied with the healthy stuff and no longer has a desire to eat junk all the time.

My mom is a wonderful person and today she is the happiest I have ever seen her which makes me wonderfully pleased. My mom has lost 40 pounds along with my eldest sibling Freda, who is 31 and has two children. I also have an 18-year-old brother who has been a vegetarian since I dared him to go “meatless in march” last year.

Several of my friends have played around with being vegan and vegetarian since I have gone vegan, while others have gone all the way and are succeeding with it. I also have a few non-vegetarian friends who have lost a significant amount of weight simply by exercising more and eating healthier.

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My 18-year-old brother, Tieshow, with a vegetarian meal consisting of falafel, hummus and pita bread.  

Once you make the decision to change your life for the better, the people around you will want a piece of it, especially when they see it working for you. It’s a cycle, you see.

The hardest part will most definitely be the beginning – I have found the reason many of my friends have not continued to eat healthy is due to their family’s eating habits and discouragement – but once you become firm with what you want for yourself and stop allowing others to make choices for you, they will see that you are serious about it and will most likely support your decisions soon thereafter.

I went from a girl whose favorite food was fries, to a woman who is looked at with confusion when I order fries due to the dedicated healthy choices I have continued to make throughout the past few years.

Stay firm with making healthy choices and you will get where you want to be, all while influencing those you love to make better choices as well.