How did you feel when you first realized you would have to change your diet for the sake of your health? Shocked? Afraid? Embarrassed, perhaps? Maybe you were afraid of what others would think of you, or more specifically what your family would think of you. How will Grandma feel when you suddenly begin to refuse your favorite homemade cookies? What will your uncle say when you can no longer eat hot dogs and hamburgers with gusto? Family reunions and holidays will never be the same, that’s for sure. Getting your family to support your restricted diet may be difficult, but it isn’t impossible.

Understand the different reactions you will receive from your family. Some will be sympathetic and will go out of their way to learn how to cook for you. Be sure to appreciate these folks! Others might be indignant, still others, confused. A few may be offended that you can no longer eat what they cook. In some fortunate cases, you may have a relative that has endured a restricted diet themselves and is entirely on board with it.

Be patient with them. Remember, they might feel that they are suffering from the loss of your health almost as much as you are; it’s hard for them, too. It’s even harder, perhaps, because while you can handle yourself with your diet, there’s nothing they can do but watch from afar as you treat yourself in a manner that they can’t understand.

Take the time to explain your situation and your diet. Be sure that they know that you are making the best decision for the sake of your health; explain that your diet is your medicine. As they watch you flourish and recover through your decision, they will understand. Have you ever wondered why some of your relatives seemed especially upset by your new diet, even after they’ve been convinced that it’s in your best interest? Cooking is often a love language, and they may despair when they realize that you can no longer partake in their greatest show of love. Compile a list of what you can and cannot eat and send it to all of the cooks in your family, but also explain to them that you don’t expect them to cater to you.

You may find, shockingly, that a few of your relatives are less genuine than they seem. It may not be uncommon to hear someone say, “I didn’t know what you could eat, so I didn’t make you anything. I’m sorry.” Eventually, you may find that these individuals are truly not willing to inconvenience themselves for you, whether or not they understand your diet. When this occurs, simply turn the other cheek. This is why you bring your own food, just in case.

Most likely, you will have other family members who simply cannot grasp your diet, or health food in general, no matter how often you’ve explained it to them. For example, if you have a dairy allergy, they may mistakenly believe that you therefore cannot stomach eggs as well, even if you’ve already explained to them that eggs are not a dairy product. Perhaps you are restricted due to a digestive disorder and need to eat only soft foods such as smoothies or cooked veggies. They may not understand this and wonder why you don’t eat such healthy foods as nuts and raw vegetables. Perhaps you’ve explained dozens of times that raw vegetables and nuts hurt your stomach due to your delicate digestion, but to no avail. You may have to accept that some people will simply never understand your diet. Nevertheless, those who fail to understand it will often embrace it and respect you all the more for your difficult decision.

When it comes to holidays, cookouts, reunions, and other family events involving food, bring something of your own to eat, even if there is someone cooking for you. Put your labeled dishes somewhere safe, separate from the rest of the food, so that others won’t think it’s part of their meal. Make sure the entire family is aware that the food is yours. Generally, even if they don’t understand your diet or care to cook for you, they will understand that you are doing what you can for the sake of your health. Don’t feel badly if someone is offended that you won’t eat what they made, even after you explained the situation.

There is a certain difficulty to changing your diet for health reasons, especially where family functions are involved. Whether or not your family understands your diet or motives, whether or not they even care to cook for you, your bold decision to heal yourself naturally will ultimately win their respect and admiration.