One of the most common questions I receive by email relates to the lack of acceptance of friends and family, even a spouse, regarding the decision to eat Real Food or otherwise make healthy changes in the home.
The abandonment of margarine, Egg Beaters, pasteurized dairy, and GMO and additive-ridden processed foods can trigger a lot of debate, discussion, and stress within the home environment at first.
This pushback is to be expected and is totally normal. You should in no way be confused, distracted, discouraged, distressed, or derailed by this type of reaction.
Most importantly, never take this type of thing personally because it has nothing to do with you.
The reason is because everyone is different when it comes to the speed with which preconceived ideas and mental barriers are broken down giving way to acceptance of new and better information. Some folks do it quickly, others take years, and still others go to their grave never having made the leap at all.
This is why major changes take a generation or two to accomplish – it is really up to our kids in the end to implement the changes that we see desperately need to be made.
This knowledge makes our everyday, seemingly insignificant parenting decisions all the more important and precious, doesn’t it?
It really DOES matter if you succumb to the fast food drive-thru on a day when it is late in the day and you are exhausted because you are teaching your kids that it is ok to lower your standards when it isn’t convenient or a situation goes awry. Wouldn’t it be better to teach the habit of being able to tolerate hunger for the few minutes it takes to get home and show your kids the quick and healthy meals you already have prepared in the fridge or freezer? Teaching kids instant gratification in the food department is a very unhealthy habit to instill as it values convenience and the short term satisfaction of a filled stomach over food quality and long term health. Here’s a funny video on how I taught my kids to reject fast food when they were little (it worked!).
With this in mind, I thought I would summarize for you the four necessary steps that are required for an individual to pass through mentally in order to accept a new idea and embrace it as his/her own. This change-management wisdom was passed along to me by a friend who learned it from a very wise retired man in our community who has counseled people with life challenges both professionally and privately for many years.
I thought it so brilliant and pithy that I wanted to share it.
The Four Steps Required for a Real Food Change
Step One: Perception
A person has to be able to fully understand the words they are reading or hearing pertaining to a necessary change. Is understanding the words alone enough for action? Not by a longshot!
Step Two: Cognitive
Once a person understands the actual words being used, he/she then needs to mentally progress to comprehension of the logic and reasoning the words convey. If the reasoning is not grasped or doesn’t make sense, then no further progress toward change will occur.
Step Three: Emotional
If the logic and reasoning behind an argument are firmly grasped and acknowledged, then emotional factors come into play. If the idea of making a particular change elicits fear, then progress is likely going to be halted. Fear (some like to say it stands for false evidence appearing real) is a common and very powerful emotional barrier for most people.
If the emotions that inevitably surface when contemplating change cannot be controlled and handled in a constructive fashion, then progress toward change once again stops.
Step Four: Social Barriers
Once a person understand the words and logic regarding a potential change and has successfully worked through the emotional barriers, then powerful social factors come into play. Worrying about what others will think or the opinion of those in our community has a powerful influence on our behavior, whether we like to admit it or not and no matter what we might truly believe deep down inside.
There’s a reason why the organic movement started with hippies. Hippies don’t care what other people think! Hence, this group of individuals very quickly moved past any social barriers to making a change to organic food – barriers that hold up other people for a very long time.
Which of these four steps do you think you get hung up on the most? I’ve found as the years go by, I move through the four steps with ever increasing speed no matter what change is required. If the research, logic and reasoning are sound and in place, then making a change is not very hard anymore. Emotional and social barriers get weaker and have less pull on us as we get older. Such great news!
So, the next time your cousin scoffs at your grassfed burgers at a family cookout even after acknowledging that healthy, happy cows eating grass in the sunshine is a lot better than sick, confined cows eating GMO grain, just smile and let it ride. He is just hung up on step three or four!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.