How to Influence Family & Friends to Eat Paleo: Respect Their Opinions

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The following is the tenth principle of Dale Carnegie’s signature book, How to Win Friends & Influence People:

Show respect for other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”

How many times have you told someone, anyone, that they are wrong? And how many times did that someone reply, “Yes, you are right; I’m wrong.”

Perhaps never? Or if they have, it wasn’t immediate.

I’ll bet that instead of showing respect for your disagreement, telling that person that they were wrong was the catalyst to an argument. And we have already been over the fact that you have never won an argument in your life.

So if you believe that what someone tells you is wrong and you say so then it’s likely that this will lead to an argument. Because no one wins arguments, you won’t “win” that person to your way of thinking.

Thus, the solution is to never tell someone they are wrong but to instead respect their opinions.

50% of Paleo Kids Are Former Veg*ans

From a continuous observational standpoint over the past 2.5 years, I’ve learned that about half of the Paleo population used to eat vegetarian or strict vegan for a week to as many as 20 years. Veg*ans begin to eat meat after avoiding it for many reasons but the main one is health related.

But when someone first begins to eat Veg*an they feel amazing. Why? They begin to focus on eating real food and are likely to focus on other lifestyle factors such as getting quality sleep, exercising, managing stress and drinking less alcohol. Sooner or later, they begin to feel like shit and then experiment with Paleo.

So if you used to be a Veg*an or thought that saturated fat clogged your arteries or that consuming fat (in any amount) was going to make you fat (have I left anyone out that is living today?), did the phrase “you’re wrong” ever change your mind?


When I first read on about the fact that saturated fat was healthy I thought it was all bullshit. It was a complete 180 to my previous way of thinking. I trusted my father who instilled into my brain that 100% whole grains are a treasure and red meat will kill you (but moderation is probably OK).

It took me a while to begin believing that perhaps my previous way of thinking about health was wrong but it eventually began to make sense. No one ever told me that I was wrong. Yet it still took me about 4 months to say, “I’m in. Let’s do this!”

As soon as I began eating Paleo (salad instead of sandwich for lunch was my biggest change) I felt amazing. So I pushed this way of eating onto my family to start. They thought I was full of shit! Why? I told them over and over again that they were wrong. Even though it took me 4 months to read dozens of articles before I finally decided to give it a shot, I expected my family members – whom I love dearly (and vice versa from what I can tell…) – to believe me instantly.

This was all well before I read How to Win Friends & Influence People. I’ve now read it twice and continue to reference it.

It has taken lots of practice and I am definitely not fully there yet but 2012 has been a great year for me getting folks on board with the Paleo concept. Before 2012, I had many arguments with my parents and siblings. But now that I respect their opinions and decisions more and more as time goes on, the concept of Paleo is resonating with them more and more.

My father is not yet on board with the I eat heart healthy saturated fat (click on the link to buy awesome clothing!) concept but now that I have completely zipped my mouth shut about nutrition and refuse to tell him that he is wrong, he seems to be warming to the idea more; no more arguments about it which is a huge first step. If he lives for another 30 years and never believes me then so what?

I may be wrong. I frequently am. Let’s examine the facts.

That is a quote from the book. Say it to yourself out loud 5 times. Isn’t it powerful? If you have friends that eat veg*an and you used to too then say this to them. Please. Believe it too. You absolutely must be sincere. I don’t want you to prove anything to anyone. Let life happen. But if you care about them then why not do your absolute best to be unbiased and then examine the facts? If the person does not want to then, well, I think that’s a good start for you.

Paleo is an eating template, not a religion

If you see me eating peanut butter and dark chocolate, chips with salsa at a Mexican restaurant, popcorn while watching a Christmas movie, quinoa or anything else that is technically not “Paleo” then let it be. Don’t stress over this fact.

Raw almonds with the skin on are Paleo. Quinoa is not. However, my body does not like almond skin yet seems to know what to do with quinoa. This is why I avoid raw almonds with the skin but am ok eating quinoa thrice per year. I eat out at mexican restaurants 2-5 times per year and always eat plenty of chips with salsa.

Who cares? Not I. Do you? I’m sorry if you do.

Let folks live their own lives. If they smile often, are kind to others, feel awesome, don’t seem to have any health issues then let them be. If they are constantly complaining about how they feel, never smile, are mean and are taking drugs for health issues then it’s probably time that you influence them to begin eating Paleo.

Eating well is step one and sleeping well is step two. Exercise may be important, but walking often is all one needs to do in the beginning.

Influence them in a way that follows Dale Carnegie’s 30 principles, two of which are avoiding arguments and respecting their opinions. For the rest, click here.

I may be wrong about all of this. I’ve been wrong hundreds, if not thousands of times in the past. I sort of used to believe carbs inherently made you fat whether it was from a white potato or soda pop. Now I think that is all bullshit. Well, actually, I think it depends on the individual. I always tell my sister that it depends. Nothing is black or white.

Even if I may be wrong about my belief that Paleo is the answer for everyone, don’t you think it’s worth a shot? I mean, you do notice that our health has been declining at a staggering pace for the past decade, right? So there is a chance that going against conventional wisdom will work for us all. Do you agree?

Experiment, then learn from your mistakes. Don’t follow what one person says as the gospel (especially me!). Nothing is black or white.

Do you respect other peoples opinions no matter what they say or who they are? Why or why not? Please discuss in the comments below.

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  1. That Fitness Chic says

    I LOVED This!!!

    My family not only WONT eat Paleo, they continue to tell me its WRONG everyday!!!!

    It is a little discouraging at times to be told what I believe is wrong but I’m glad I’m not alone!!!!

    p.s. That book sounds like its worth a read (how to win friends and influence people)


    • says

      Thanks for chiming in. My family is mixed on the whole Paleo thing but since my dad was a pharmeceutical sales rep for 25 years before getting laid off as part of a massive downsize, he is not at all on board with the FACT that saturated fat is HEALTHY. However, I am just about to pay for my second Wise Traditions class through Hawthorne University called: *WISE 102 – Fats, Oils, Cholesterol, and Fat Soluble Vitamins. You can learn more about the certificate and classes here: ***

  2. RN says

    Good post Toad. We all need to be reminded to not let our excitement about our food be annoying to others. As you point out, Paleo is a complete full circle. We used to eat this way, we then thought it was bad, now we think its good again. Blah, blah, blah. Our current state of health is so far in the tank, can anyone really trust their natural intuition about whats best to eat for health? Its no wonder people are dubious. Being thin (normal weight) and healthy is so rare today, it says everything about a lifestyle. Stiving to maintain a thin frame, eliminating processed crap, eating real food and speaking about it not with words but quiet excitement is the way to influence people without being obnoxious.

    • says

      “Stiving to maintain a thin frame, eliminating processed crap, eating real food and speaking about it not with words but quiet excitement is the way to influence people without being obnoxious.”


  3. Primal Belle says

    I think this is not only true for diet, but everything. Everyone is on their own journey. Not even everyone is on the journey toward optimal health. If we tell people how to get there, when that’s not even on their radar, it’s annoying if not offensive.

    • says

      Right on! Some people aren’t after “optimal health” which means different things to different people. I’m shying away from “optimal health” and am moving towards going after a “meaningful life.” So if I want to eat something that is not Paleo then I do not give a shit. I know myself more than anyone else and I’ll ignore the Paleo kids that think I should be more strict.

      On the other hand, ever since I have thought this way, I’ve been waaaaaay less apt to eat something that does not agree with me. It’s really amazing. Sometimes we just need to let go and live!

  4. Liesel says

    You have a very good point here, to never say “you are wrong!”. It is very tempting to tell people what to do, when you have felt the change yourself – and now know how great and healthy you feel, but the best is still just to live as an example. And only explain this lifestyle when someone asks…