Friendship and Companionship on 80/10/10

by Lindsay Gasik

Published: Sun, 20 Sep 2015
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It‘s easy to focus on yourself when looking to improve your health, but don‘t forget your friends.
Friends may be the ticket to longevity. In a 10-year study of Australian seniors, researchers found that people with extensive social networks outlived people with few friends by 22%. Having strong friendships reduces stress levels, boosts confidence and self-esteem, and may even improve immune function and reduce susceptibility to cancer.

To be happy and healthy, it‘s important to maintain a strong social network. This takes work, because if we‘re healthy people we‘re constantly learning, growing and changing and our relationships have to evolve with us. When you‘re transitioning to an 80/10/10 diet, you may feel like a gulf has opened between you and your old crowd. Or, you might be afraid to try an 80/10/10 diet for fear you‘ll lose your entire social network. Here are a few things to think about regarding changing your diet and maintaining those life-sustaining friendships.

On a raw vegan diet, you may feel different than the old you - more energetic, optimistic, or athletic. Or you may have new values and interests, like animal welfare or permaculture. But in most cases, switching to a new diet isn‘t a born-again experience. You‘re still you, just a healthier version. The things your friends appreciated about you, like your sense of adventure, your terrible jokes, and your kindness don‘t change with a shift in diet.

Focus on the activities you still enjoy doing together.

Your original friendship probably developed around hobbies or activities that you both enjoy. Unless all of the activities were unhealthy or what you now consider unethical – like bar-hopping or pheasant hunting – you will probably still enjoy doing all of the same things you enjoyed before such as going hiking, making fun of bad sci-fi movies, taking a glass blowing class, or even going out to eat.

Don‘t be afraid of social eating.

For good or for bad, a lot of social activities center around food – potlucks, parties, holidays, dinners with friends or family or (eek!) the in-laws - so it‘s important to learn to confidently navigate social eating. On the practical side, there are many ways to gracefully supply sustenance for yourself in any social situation, like bringing a delicious dish to share, packing convenient and inconspicuous snacks, or hacking the “side dish” section of a restaurant menu. It may not be as satisfying as preparing a meal at home, but for a little Vitamin P (people) it‘s a good trade-off.

Have a positive attitude about your food.

If your friendships are healthy, you want each other to be happy. They may need reassurance that your diet is not, in fact, making you miserable or sucking the joy out of eating. Try to avoid negative comments about your food, even if the fruit salad was starchy and sour and no one at the potluck remembered to leave the cheese out of the salad. You‘ll be happier for focusing on the positive aspects of your meal, and they‘ll have an easier time accepting and respecting your new diet.

Reserve judgment and be respectful

Have you ever considered that your friends may be as equally worried that you will judge them for not changing their diet as you are afraid they will judge you for eating differently? Respect is a two-way street. It can be frustrating to watch your friends continue eating unhealthy food and suffering the consequences, but judging them for what they eat is exactly what you don‘t want them to do to you, so be sure to keep your meals judgment free and enjoy each other's company.

Invest in old friendships, but make room for new ones

Most friendships bloom and then fade with the various phases of our lives. You‘re probably no longer friends with most of your elementary school classmates, or even most of your college roommates. When you transition to an 80/10/10 diet, you‘re entering a new phase. You may grow away from some friends, but only because you‘re growing towards others. These new friends may eventually become old friends, expanding your social network and increasing your chances at a long, happy life.

Additional Resources

Blog:

Retreats:

Practical Skills To Thrive
Friends and Fun


Self-Study Materials:

Raw Health Series 2
Acquiring Vibrant Health & Keeping It
The 80/10/10 Family
Membership
80/10/10 Kickstart
How To Live 80/10/10