I’ll never forget when my mom bought all natural deodorant for the first time from the local wellness store. She presented it to me proudly, grinning ear to ear like a little girl. “It contains NO aluminum and parabens,” she touted. It was in that moment that I thought-FINALLY. I had spent weeks lecturing to she and my dad about the importance of ditching the antiperspirant for a safer alternative. She had watched wide eyed in slight fear as I explained that the we are rubbing questionable preservatives and aluminum right into our armpits where many women just freshly shaved, providing easy access to the bloodstream. She winced as I reminded them that’s right where some of our lymph nodes are, whose job is to carry and dispose lymph throughout the body. So many of us don’t realize that suppressing sweat is suppressing your body’s ability to detox itself! But this exercise in parental education actually ended up teaching ME. Let me explain why.
You see this was not my first “lets wake the folks up” rodeo. In years past, I had gone about all of it the wrong way. As I learned about herbs, holistic healing and (especially) corruption in medicine, I began to openly share with them and the rest of my family. But sometimes….ok actually A LOT…my delivery was all wrong. I used to “preach” at them. I would provide SO much overwhelming information and statistics about the scary side of the health world that it was counterproductive. My point was to show them why the system is broken and must evolve. It was easy for me to spit out health facts and basic science gems because of my background. But no one likes preaching and reprimanding. No one likes to focus on the negative. No one really enjoys being told they are inadvertently harming their bodies.
Unfortunately, it seems to be quite easy to get frustrated with the older generation who can be set in their ways and not willing to give up their unhealthy lifestyles. And don’t get me wrong-I don’t mean to single out the baby boomers only. Of course there are people of all age ranges who obsessively eat McDonald’s, indulge in tobacco and don’t fully understand that food is medicine. However, in my experience, the older generation grew up in an era when tobacco was promoted by doctors, Monsanto food was everywhere beginning in the 1980’s, and fast food restaurants were a nice convenience when both parents began working. Society spent a DAMN long time brainwashing them to believe that all of these vices were healthy and acceptable. So always keep that in mind before you get frustrated with them! Some of them are here to teach us how to temper our words and control our tongues!
The key is to know your audience. What do they enjoy? Talking, cooking, debating, movie watching or reading? So without further ado, here are my best ways to sneakily and stellarly encourage those you love to look at health from a whole new perspective.
- Watch Documentaries that Incite Radical Change
Ok so this is probably the easiest way since all the info is presented nicely and most of us don’t have to do a lot of work. There are so many wonderful, enlightening choices that are packed full of lifesaving information. The difficult part is getting your parents/siblings/friends to sit down and actually watch. If they generally like educational documentaries, then you might be in luck. However I wouldn’t push the topic too much if this is not their cup of tea. Remember that anytime you force a subject, you are often not winning the case. Being overbearing causes others to stop listening to our message. Be kind in your journey. My top documentaries (if they are willing to watch) are:
- The Truth About Cancer (found on youtube)
- Food Inc
- GMO OMG
- Forks over Knifes
- Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
- The Human Experience
- Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare
If food documentaries aren’t there thing or you intuitively know they aren’t quite ready to watch, maybe try an enlightening film instead. Two of my favorite, feel-good-movies are I Am and Happy. Sometimes you have to sit back and wait until they approach you, but you may be able to crack them open with a film about
2. Cook For Them (everyone likes mad kitchen skills) or Take Them Shopping with You
I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say that most people don’t know how good a plant based, healthy meal full of vibrant herbs and colors is. It wasn’t until I went to India in early 2015 that I realized how many foods we do not enjoy much in the USA! Eggplant, tempeh, buckwheat, barley, turmeric, yucca, greens, flavorful herbs and spices filled each plate that I was served DAILY. Unfortunately many of us think a diet Coke, pasteurized fruit juice or a sandwich with cheese and brominated bread is healthy. Sometimes its not about what we are eating and more about what nutrients we are NOT eating. Nutritional deficiencies account for an alarming number of chronic diseases. So you can make a huge dent in your family’s understanding of what IS healthy by cooking it for them! Of course, this does make you a bit vulnerable since there’s no guarantee that they’ll like it. But don’t give up and definitely don’t take offense. There is actually studies demonstrating that it is the colonies of bacteria in our guts that determine our palette. This is why if people can stick to a diet, over time their tastes change and they don’t crave sugar anymore. The bacteria that were in the gut, thriving off of the sweet stuff, have been eradicated since they were starved of their substrate of choice!
Even going on a couple of grocery trips can be super eye opening for people. Sometimes they aren’t sure what to eat so you have the opportunity to be a wealth of information if they are open to it.
Don’t forget to leave some recipes lying around for your folks! HINT: This means you have to keep yourself in check, know how to cook, and have done at least some of your research. Don’t worry! If you don’t like cooking, then there are plenty of other ways to sway your folks….
3. Educate Them (Science yo)
I think most of us grew up eating Fruit Rollups, Pizza bites, Cocoa Puffs and Gushers, didn’t we? I am a firmly believer that many of us would do better, if we only knew better (ok not everyone, but I know a lot of people who would!) We are all doing the best we can from our consciousness level. This route is great for the cerebral parental unit or friend. Some people are hardwired to only believe black and white scientific studies. And I’m not knocking it-these stuides are absolutely needed to rigourously and objectively test our hypotheses! But these left brained minds also need to be shown the evidence of money controlling the publications behind closed doors. They need to be guided to see some of these ties between biotech firms like Monsanto and the federal goverment. (Think of examples like Michael Taylor-who served as VP of the biotech firm, Monsanto and then also worked for the FDA).
It is also useful to dig up studies which link gut bacteria to mood, cravings and immunity. I know there’s no way my grandparents knew that 85% of your immune cells reside in the GALT, gastrointestinal associated lymphatic tissue that line the intestinal tract. That means that whatever we decide to ingest is in intimate contact with our soldier protector cells. Heavy metals, allergens like MSG or aspartame and diets lacking in basic vitamins/minerals can eventually affect our genes and defense systems. Vitamins like D or C and other trace minerals like magnesium, folate or zinc are used in countless reactions in our bodies. They help to make the very building blocks of our cells. If someone you love is eating a diet lacking these nutrients, they need to understand that the body cannot function in good standing for long like that. Based on the genetic makeup, some people with this lifestyle will come down with a physical ailment while others will suffer mentally, which brings me to my next point.
90% of our serotonin receptors are located in the gut. What this means is that the food we choose will feed beneficial gut bacteria or pathogenic gut bacteria. When we choose boxed, prepared food, dead food, or food our ancestors would not recognize, then we help to feed bacterial colonies that release toxic byproducts or biofilm into our bodies that contributes to brain fog, lethargy, obesity, depression, and anxiety. Many patients have reversed their anxiety with dietary changes. If you have a loved one who needs to see some cold hard studies before they even consider skipping the Oreos, then reference some of my fave studies below.
- For the drinkers: http://m.pnas.org/content/111/42/E4485.full
- To understand the gut-brain connection: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2014/08/116526/do-gut-bacteria-rule-our-minds
- To understand the immunity and power our guts (and therefore food) have: https://www.ncbi.nlm.gov//pmc/articles/PMC4095778/
- To understand the science behind mood disorders and gut bacterial strains: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3179073/
- To understand how depression and other “incurable” diseases are linked to the gut: https:www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4662178/
4. Talk About Their Emotional Issues Surrounding Food
This is an interesting concept but it does work by revealing hidden thought patterns that may have been blindly accepted, but not properly evaluated. I think we can all agree that when people are addicted to alcohol, tobacco or are morbidly obese, they are usually self medicating due to an emotional wound or trauma. It is rarely JUST about the food or the drug of choice. Have you ever sat down and asked your parents how food was “used” in their household? Some patients use food to soothe them as they did not recieve the love they needed at home. Unfortunatley, I have seen women who were sexually abused overeat as a defense mechanism so they will not be attractive to men. Others were rewarded with food, so eating brings about feelings of pleasure beyond what is sometimes healthy. My mother distinctly remembers feeling less loved than her brother, the only boy, because he would get special treatment by being rewardedd with ice cream in the evenings while all the girls sat and watched.
I think its always good practice to hear another’s story as this brings mutual understanding. Once you hear the societal programming that most of us have received over our lives on top of food and family dynamics, you may understand where your dad, who comes home from work and self soothes with a greasy burger and beer, is coming from.
Most of us wouldn’t believe the HUGE impact that just talking about our emotional wounds can have. If you believe your parents or grandparents may have an emotional blockage driving mindless or unhealthy habits, then just getting them to talk about it can crack them wide open. Act interested in their story. We all have one. Question their beliefs surrounding that story. Sometimes the limitatons or stories we tell ourselves are FALSE and all we need is someone to question those beliefs before we see that they are a fallacy. We often subconsciously lie to ourselves so we don’t have to change. Just having a conversation can make others become more aware of their emotional baggage that needs healing. Remain supportive and don’t judge. Your role here is to stay curious and loving AF. Great things rarely happen overnight!
5. Provide Examples of Success Stories
I’ll never forget the pushback I got from friends and medical professionals when I launched my first product, which happened to be a gut bacteria and parasite cleanse. They chuckled in disbelief…”parasites are a problem for third world countries, but not here in the United States.” It was not until my patients began to bring in pictures of disspelled worms or stories of complete health 180’s that they began to question our standard medical trainings. Some still refused to believe the evidence, but the overwhelming majority were shocked. Remember that occasionally, even when presented with the truth, people will refuse to acknowledge its presence. Oftentimes this happens when they cling tightly or feel secure in their belief systems. The cognitive dissonance and potential reality that their whole lives have been lived in misalignment can be too much to bear. Plus old habits die hard!
Be patient with whoever you speak with because everyone is right where they are supposed to be, even if you don’t want to believe they are. Give examples like the success stories in Gerson therapy, that uses juicing, coffee enemas and herbs to help treat cancer. Give examples of how autism, cancer, and autoimmune disorders have risen in frequency since the industrial revolution. In fact, one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes! This is not just genetics. To elaborate on this, explain epigenetics to them. Lovingly discuss how environmental toxins, triggers and pollutants can lead to genetic changes that then present as physical diseases. Takosubo cardiomyopathy is a documented heart attack often leading to heart failure that is caused by stress!
6. Be The Change You Want to See (with a dose of humility and patience)
I can’t stress this enough. If you are going to be leading the way for the older generation, friends, family, or the younger generation (basically anyone), then you must be walking the walk. Your dad probably isn’t going to listen to you about holistic healing if you’re out getting drunk every night that you don’t have to work. Your overweight aunt won’t be too keen on your ideas if she sees you cheating more than maintaining a clean diet. Your brother might not believe you if you’re sick all the time but preaching about how diet can improve immunity.
If you have parents that are stubborn as mules or grandparents resistant to change, then you may have tried different versions of what I listed above to no avail. So what can be done? Well obvi you can’t change anyone who is not ready. And with veganism, plant based diets and holistic health booming, then this information will soon be everywhere. We all come to it on our own time and when we are exactly supposed to. Sometimes we can feel pressurized to “save” our families, but what I have found are these lessons are often for the person who continues to press the issue, not the one who isn’t listening to the lesson. In this situation, it is best to continue to live your lifestyle to the best of your ability and to show them the changes in your own health, body, and mind. The inspiration bug is quite effective!
Last but not least, if those in your life don’t change despite the evidence, it is really an issue of self love and this is deeply personal. Perhaps it is in their life plan to do it their way and accept the knowledge when the time is right for them. My dad has asked me multiple times to “just love him and accept hime the way he is.” Dont get me wrong-both my parents eat super clean and don’t take prescription meds, but when it comes to other governmental policies…well, thats another story. Hey its baby steps!
Balance is key when dealing with our families and close friends. Emotions can run high and we all want the best for those we love. Sometimes the best thing we can do is give love where its accepted and trust that the universe will teach what needs to be taught, on its own magical time frame of course.
Dr. Jess (MD)
Dr. Jess (Dr. Jessica Peatross) is a western trained medical doctor who began her journey into healing in 2009.
Sign up to get health tips for FREE!