Disease Proof

Is pleasing Grandma ruining your health?


  • Are you currently engulfed in the sea of pleasing everyone but yourself?

  • Do you help your children and/or others reach their fullest potential, but neglect your own goals?

  • Are you afraid to “rock the boat” this holiday season and say, “No” to others ~ to the extent that you don’t take care of yourself?

  • Would you like to eat healthier, but are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings by rejecting their food; especially Grandma’s favorite cookies that she made just for you? 
  • Are you going along with the crowd to blend in at the expense of killing yourself?
  • Are you straddling the fence?  Do you want to eat for health, but are afraid of what others might think so you make compromises? 


A people pleaser is concerned with the expectations of others and trying to fit in, even if it means giving up personal goals to do so. Pleasing everyone is emotional dysfunction, and is usually on the side of evil, not goodness. Trying to please others, even if what they are promoting is hurtful, is a deadly snare. Gang members can torture and kill people trying to please their peer group.     

Don’t meet the expectations and demands of others if they are unrealistic and disease promoting.  Love means having the best affect on others, not acting in a way to be viewed more favorably.  The latter is weakness and self-love.     

If you are a habitual people pleaser it will take courage to change the dysfunction. Saying no without feeling guilty can be difficult, but for optimal health, you must change damaging behaviors.

Standing up for yourself and doing what is right, not necessarily what is popular or what is promoted by your family and friends, is the best gift that you can give to others!

Let’s dialogue.  In what practical ways do you need to change this holiday season in order to be emotionally and physically healthy?  (Feel free to use a nickname if you wish to remain anonymous.) 


image credit: flickr by jencu

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Comments (31) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Diane Troost - December 13, 2010 10:38 AM

Actually, this grandma is trying to help my children by buying them awesome juicers for Christmas! Yes, Indeed!

Emily Boller - December 13, 2010 11:00 AM

What an awesome Grandma! Sowing seeds of health into the next generation ~ good for you! That's a priceless gift. :)

CJ - December 13, 2010 11:19 AM

This Grandmas is doing the same - bought them both high speed blenders so they can make green smoothies for their families. And when they all come for Christmas this year there won't be the usual ton of sweets they are used to. It's time for new traditions!

farmgroupie (Christine) - December 13, 2010 11:50 AM

I think you're absolutely right! I know that it's always acceptable to have a different eating pattern for religious/ethical reasons, but purely for your own health? Pshaw! I really believe that continuing to insist on our own happiness and healthiness is a lifelong battle. Other people's expectations and values have to be ignored. We're all fighting for our lives.

Meg - December 13, 2010 11:54 AM

Diane and CJ, kudos to you! I wish you were both a part of my family!

The social pressure has been especially tough for my husband and I this past year as we went vegan a year ago, just in time for the holidays. We were still worried about people's reactions this holiday season, but so far it hasn't been too bad. Don't get me wrong, we did have some very negative reactions from a few people, but most were respectful of our decisions even if they didn't understand them let alone agree with them. And most people now know not to buy us gifts with leather or eggs or other animal products, even if there are sometimes some honest mistakes that we politely turn down.

What I've learned in all of this is that it is very important to be assertive. Being wishy-washy and apologetic will just cause more problems. Figure out where the line is beforehand and stick to it. People may test you at first, but if you stay firm then it'll get easier and easier.

Eileen - December 13, 2010 12:07 PM

This holiday season has been about life changing for myself and my family. I am making all the side dishes for our family get together and they will all be vegan dishes. I am using plenty of nut milks, nuts, seeds, veges, fruits, and beans this year instead of the traditional creams, milks, flours, breads, and other unhealthy overly processed ingredients of yesteryear. It is easier to convince people through their tastebuds than their ears!

abw - December 13, 2010 12:40 PM

I think it's good to think ahead of time of how to show kindness to those who have given themselves for us (Grandma making cookies), either by graciously letting them know of our dietary changes/needs ahead of time or by thanking them for their efforts in other ways. Even share a favorite healthy recipe with Grandma before you get to her house or offer to make it and share it with others! We don't want to ruin the healthy resource of loving relationships either by offending people unnecessarily. I think you can have good physical health, be an example to others and still be gracious in the way you turn down "treats" that are unhealthy! Of course, some people may be unavoidably offended because they like to easily be offended at anything! But let's try the loving way!

Elisa Rodriguez - December 13, 2010 1:00 PM

I just want to say: great blog title, neat video and a point-well made Emily, and way to go grandmas for buying blenders and juicers! :0)

Diane Henke - December 13, 2010 1:28 PM

This 66 year old vegetarian grandmother had her 6 yr. old grandson over yesterday. Knowing he questions sweet peppers, I had him cutting broccoli and zucchini while I took care of the rest of the items. He happily continued the meal and set the table so that we could eat the food that we prepared. He even enjoyed some mild salsa, a first for him. Spicey stuff is not for children.

Bonnie Wheeler - December 13, 2010 2:25 PM

This grandma has revised my favorite gingerbread recipe substituting applesauce for Crisco and whole wheat pastry flour for white flour, so I can still be a cookie baking grandma and provide healthy treats for the kids and grandkids.

Emily Boller - December 13, 2010 2:36 PM

Kudos to ALL Grandmas on this post!

Let's all be the change that we wish to see in this world (Gandhi) ~ you all are great examples of turning the holiday blahs into holiday happiness! What a legacy you are giving your families. Congratulations to all!

CJ, I LOVE your statement, "It's time for new traditions!"
That's a wall plaque one!

Kristen - December 13, 2010 2:43 PM

I do have a lot of people trying to talk me out of the Eat to Live eating style at all times of the year. I get a lot of:

"But you could just get hit by a bus, and then you would have done all that for nothing." or "Moderation is everything." Etc.

But I have to do what is right for me, so I just ignore them and eat what I want to eat.

Dani @ Body By Nature - December 13, 2010 3:00 PM

This post really speaks to me! I am currently studying to be a Holistic Nutritionist and personal trainer so I try to live a very healthy life. However as a life-long people-pleaser, I find that sometimes I compromise my beliefs to make other people happy or at least get off my back.
In doing the 6-week Holiday Challenge I have learned how closely I tie emotion into my eating and this year instead of trying to make everyone happy (and really who is happy when you've eaten so much junk you feel sick) I am going to lead by example and make healthy and positive choices.

Good luck everyone and happy holidays!

Peter and Candy True - December 13, 2010 3:17 PM

We don't need to worry about our grandparents. . .we are the grandparents and have been invited to our daughter's for Christmas. We are and have been the strange vegans of the family for many years. We called our daughter to ask what we may donate to the family dinner and our daughter responded "I don't know yet". I told Candy not to give her a choice...just put together one of Jeff Novick's very tasty "fast food recipes" and take that with us. Yum, Yum!

Carrie (Love Healthy Living) - December 13, 2010 4:11 PM

I absolutely agree with this post and the idea that people-pleasers get sucked into others' bad habits. I am a people-pleaser but at the same time a rebel. It's hard to find the balance but I know 100% that eating a healthy diet is the best thing to do for myself and my family. I try to be open-minded about how other people choose to live their lives and demand the same respect for how I choose to live my life. That's the bottom line.

Deb - December 13, 2010 4:34 PM

I am never going to let anyone tell me what to eat and if anyone makes any negative comments about how I am eating I will tell them that if they have a problem with what I am eating that they should do some research before they spout off their mouth and concentrate on themselves instead of me. Since I am the one who has lost 87 pounds, I am the expert and when they have lost all the weight they need to lose & reversed their diseases, I will be happy to discus my eating habits with them. Until then, please keep keep their uninformed opinion to themselves! This is what will be going through my mind. I will just be saying LALALALALAA in my head and not listening. I go through this every time I see my mother. I have told her and will tell anyone else who tries to ridicule me for the way I eat that my eating habits are not open for discussion but if they would like my critique of what they eat....... If it sounds like I am hostile and angry ... not really. I just want people to know that look at yourself before you speak. :))))

Emily Boller - December 13, 2010 4:44 PM


Congratulations on the 87 lbs weight loss . . . keep up the great work!

Betty Porter - December 13, 2010 5:43 PM

I keep giving in to temptations. I need to stay connected I am a member but I have a commitment the first monday of each month so have not been able to do the orientation class to see how best to use my membership.
Suggestions on how to stay connected to others who are eating this way.

Stacy - December 13, 2010 6:10 PM

While my kids were drinking their usual water this Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law brings them sparking apple cider and says, "I'm their grandmother and I want to give them a treat!" This is the same woman who "treated" her husband to a quadruple bypass.

Emily G. - December 13, 2010 6:38 PM

I am not afraid of what other people think of me or the decisions I make regarding food. Instead, I have a family member that is prone to "thinking" the choices they make are healthy when they are not or that its "OK" to eat bad on the holidays, and crossing this person has proven to have harsh consequences from past experiences. The fear doesn't stem from criticism so much as the potential for a hostile (and childish) reaction that can easily overtake the holiday and ruin it for everyone. I fear a repeat of adult temper tantrums of the past that make me feel ill and sad. Moreover, there are prolonged periods of a hostile silent treatment that makes everyone uneasy and upset.

MIke Rubino - December 13, 2010 6:49 PM

I agree that handling "others' when eating ETL can be a handfull. Funny thing most people could pass on it with little comment if you would just add some chicken ,coldcuts or fish to your salad and then maybe a piece of bread with it. Leaving that stuff out sets you apart from the average run of the mill part time dieter and I think it is what really provokes the comments.

Of course when you go to some kind of sit down dinner is when you really stand out and in the beginning have to hold your ground from the peoeple who think because it's "them'' that you're going to bend . After a time most family members will learn to leave you alone but not without some testing.

Sharon Warden - December 13, 2010 6:55 PM

I won't have any problem with people scratching their heads are eat. They expect me to be eating "strangely" anyway. At potlucks, you take what you can eat and then if there's nothing else there on your diet, you can seconds of your dish and eat when you get home. Chances are your dish won't be the most favorite anyway! I always have bean salad left!!

Wendy (Healthy Girl's Kitchen) - December 13, 2010 7:17 PM

First of all, Emily, I happened upon your work, Transformation and I was blown away. I cried. I shared it with my blog readers. What a great testiment to Nutritarianism. THank you so much for putting the work into to do that piece.

Now on to the subject at hand. I am not shy about the way that I eat now. In fact, I'm really vocal about it. Some people might be offended, but I really don't care. I figure if there really are 60 million obese americans, then I owe it to society and the universe to share the information that saved my life. I may naturally have more confidence and enthusiasm about things than most people though, so I can appreciate the difficulties that many of you are going through.

Becky Johnson - December 13, 2010 9:34 PM

It's not that I'm afraid of what others will think of me, it's that I got burdened with the the yadda, yadda... and the business of life. At first I thought I was imparting some kind of knowledge--but it wasn't wanted. Now I look like a fool in the sense that I am very fat--and if I am fat eating so many veggies then what is wrong??? I try and explaine that I eat many food that are "bad" and the veggies are helping to keep me out of the doctor's office or hospital--yet, I am aging and the fence staddling has taken it's toll on my body.
In the effort to find a social environment for my family, I caved and let my kids have stuff I didn't want and it's been down hill or fence staddling since--yet, my kids are not overweight and eat tons more fruit and veggies, nuts seeds and beans than all of their peers. Will they eat this way when they leave the nest??? I find that when I'm on vacation--free from some of the day to day responsibilities of my life, I can stay away from the foods that don't support my healing. I don't have my husband's support any more and so I'm finding it very difficult. Woody Harlson said if he didn't have someone supportging him he didn't think he could keep up the lifestyle. The internet support system hasn't been enough for me. When I first discovered eat to live in my 30's, I had a support system, and only 25 pounds to deal with. My children were young or nursing and only played with kids who's parents were in the support group. My husband even took the lunches I made for him to work... I was excited and able to overcome the obstacles of that time.
Everything is different. I don't intend for this to sound like excuses.

Emily Boller - December 13, 2010 9:37 PM

Thank you Wendy. There were many times in the beginning of that journey that I wanted to quit because my life was so out-of-control with some medical emergencies that I was dealing with, but I'm sooooo thankful that I didn't throw in the towel and quit. I have NO regrets for getting my health AND life back!

With regards to this people pleasing topic, I've noticed that the longer one lives the nutritarian eating style, and not only experiences the benefits first-hand, but hears the testimonies of others' health improvements . . . it solidifies the commitment.

It took me six years to finally commit to ETL, and a part of that fear of commitment was realizing it would radically change my social life; I'd have to eat *differently* in social settings, and possibly even bring my own food (*gasp!*) to most public eating events. One must understand that I was obese at the time . . . my mindset would have possibly been different if I was fit, trim, and an example of health.

Especially for those brand new to nutritarian eating, and may not have the confidence of seeing and experiencing first-hand his/her personal AND dramatic health improvements yet, it's easy to get entangled into the opinions of others regarding food; and for most, those opinions are disease promoting.

Bottom line, we all need to make choices, not based on pleasing others; but based on what is best for excellent health for the body.

Because . . . . .as Dr. Fuhrman states our health IS our greatest wealth!

CW - December 14, 2010 7:51 AM

I have been a vegetarian for 11 years. My family supports me fully. My mother prepares vegetarian dishes for me and loves trying to make new dishes. She says she loves the challenge. When my grandchildren visit, they eat what I eat and many times go home asking their mom to prepare the same thing. My friends are the same way with the support. Every now and then they tease me, but it's all in fun.

Pamela - December 14, 2010 1:16 PM

This is the deal-killer for me. I am absolutely a people-pleaser. The person I struggle with on a weekly basis is my mother-in-law. She watches my girls two day a week, and sends dinner home for us on those days so that I won't have to cook after work. Obviously this is "nice" of her. These meals are in no way healthful. Unfortunately, she is quite passive aggressive and easily offended. Whenever I have tried to lose weight, she has even sent home extra "goodies" for my poor, suffering family that must be starving on my diet food. Even trying to suggest that I don't want what she cooks (for myself or my family), would send our relationship into a tailspin. I cannot take that kind of confrontation. My inability to release my need to please is the biggest hurdle standing between me and a full commitment to my health. And that's sad.

Lorraine Postell - December 14, 2010 5:33 PM

I am so amazed at how quickly Dr. Fuhrman's program has positively affected my health. I am on the Six Week Challange program...Yesterday, I had my usual 3 month blood profile taken and the results were astounding... In August, at my last blood profile my Total Cholesterol was 255. It is now 210. My A1c was 6.4. It is now 6.1. My glucose level was 111. It is now 101.

I am no longer a skeptic....These figures do not lie...

Thank you Dr. Fuhrman...

Emily G. - December 14, 2010 6:42 PM

Hi Pamela! I can understand your dilemma a lot!! My inlaws were so unsupportive of how I eat and raise my children that if my kids stayed over they would go out of their way to feed them junkfood, fastfood, and processed meats. I was tagged the "hippy" and "extreme" and their passive aggressive reactions were the normal. However, soon my kids grew older and they started refusing the food, they read Omnivore's Dilemma, watched Food Inc. and began lecturing the inlaws on their poor and fatty diets. Refusing to eat the meat and junk that was served, politely, caused a shift in dynamics. Soon, I was asked to supply recipes that the kids would eat and this started to open their minds.....a little. While this has taken over a decade to see, perserverence has paid off. Hang in there, there is hope for change! :)

Dr. Fuhrman - December 15, 2010 6:53 AM

In people pleasing situations, food is not the only instance where one is controlled by others; one’s whole life becomes tormented because of the loss of personal freedom and expression. This loss is all because of the inability to stand up to intimidation and the fear of confrontation.

Love includes allowing people to be themselves and express their feelings, with the desire to understand and accept.

Giving into intimidation and pleasing people not only destroys one’s health, it destroys one’s humanity and makes him/her a slave to the wishes of others.

Sam - December 16, 2010 5:27 PM

I would add to Dr. Fuhrman's comment that the beauty of love is that it comes in the form of many expressions. We all express our love of our partner, family, friends, play, nature, sports, arts, music, etc in many different ways. To truly love starts with loving oneself by setting boundaries that are necessary to preserve what one holds dear and to say, “I am worthy.” That begins with our health. The issue is not about food ~ it is about a deeper pain where food is being used to deaden the hurt. Food is the drug of choice and some don't love themselves enough to say no to the pushers.

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