A Healthy Eating Owner’s Guide for Control Freaks and Never-Want-to-Changers : Addicted to Food Series Part 4

Friday Apr 22, 2011 | BY |
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kevin-gianni-brietenbush-hot-springs
A happy and healthy Control Freak at Breitenbush Hot Springs

[This is the final installment of my “Addicted to Food” Series inspired by the new show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Here is part 1, part 2 and part 3.]

You know who they are…

The Control Freaks won’t let a thing pass their mouth without a sign off from the certifying agency that the food is organic, never been processed by anything other than a human hand and is labeled with a time stamp that identifies when it has been picked and the relative amount of enzymes that have been degraded since then.

The Never-Want-to-Changers… well…. they just never want to stop eating what they’ve always eaten. They, just as their name suggests, never want to change.

In the short term, neither of these people really pose any problems for anyone else, but in the long term their – equally as intense – rigidness, may bring them health challenges as well as cause agony for their friends and family members.

The control freak goes too far down into the healthy eating rabbit hole which causes deficiencies and closemindedness, while the Never-Want-to-Changer stays up on the surface with their favorite meal – the one they’ve eaten every day since they were 5 years old – in hand, as they develop diabetes, heart disease and all other diseases that their favorite comfort food causes.

Both these people need help.

Why?

Because I was a classic control freak and the help that I got was the only thing that didn’t bring me too far down the hole. I’m still in the hole (it’s actually not bad to be there), but I can still see the light up by the surface from where I am.

I know a few Never-Want-to-Changers as well. In fact, I’m married to one.

On our first date, Annmarie told me that she didn’t like change too much. She wasn’t interested in anyone trying to change her, nor was she interested in changing how she did things.

In terms of food, she ate the classic American-Italian fare – lots of bread, lots of pasta, and enough mozzarella to make your brain curdle.

But just like I came up out of the rabbit hole from 100% raw vegan to a little more balanced, Annmarie tossed out her past beliefs (let go of the chicken parm) and jumped down a bit to meet me.

Usually it doesn’t happen this nicely.

So how did we make it work for us?

I’m going to share that with you today in the form of an Owner’s Manual for each personality and how you can step-by-step understand how each person works and help them be open to possibility and eventually healthy eating for the long run.

The Control Freak – Owner’s Guide

WARNING: Please keep a Control Freak at least half a kitchen table’s distance from another Control Freak.

To use the Control Freak, be sure to follow these instructions exactly:

Step 1: Understand the Control Freak fears losing control.

The Control Freak, as you probably know, needs to control everything. This isn’t a big secret.

When it comes to food, they are the ones that must do the shopping, must make sure everything fits their very detailed needs and specifications.

If they don’t have control over this they usually react by freaking out or closing up.

If they could, the Control Freak would run the grocery store, the restaurants and the farms to insure that all food is of the purest quality. (It’s a noble idea, but likely impossible.)

The Control Freak is the orthorexic, the anorexic, the dogmatist, the strictest of the bunch.

They’re also the emotional one.

I’m sure you’ve been out with friends before and went to a place the Control Freak really didn’t want to go to – maybe there weren’t any clear vegan or raw options or there was some non-organic ingredients on the menu.

I don’t need to tell you how the Control Freak reacted. You know how they did.

What’s important to note, in terms of your long term association with the Control Freak is that their emotional expression may seem like an assault on you or others around them, but it’s really an expression of how they’re feeling internally and isn’t intended to hurt anyone. They just believe that their tantrums will make the situation right again.

Usually those outbursts doesn’t.

To help the control freak regain a bit of sanity in these situations (and still feel like they have some control), allow them to make as many food decisions as possible. What’s the point in fighting it, they’re likely going to make good choices that are healthy for you anyway.

Always include them in the discussion about where to eat or what’s on the menu as well. Otherwise, you’re in for a long night.

Step 2: Do not tell the Control Freak what to do, it will bite.

The thing that the Control Freak hates the most is being told what to do.

Even if they are eating a diet that is driving them to poor health (anorexics and orthorexics are good examples of this), you will not be able to crack them if you tell them that they’re doing something wrong.

Again, the Control Freak needs to be in control. So when they’re in control of their sinking ship, they actually are fine with it. As long as they can take it to the bottom or right up on shore, they will stick to their plan.

The best way to tell the Control Freak what to do is to plant suggestions.

For me, I broke out of my disordered diet regimen when I began working with Dr. Williams. He had a knack for breaking me out of my comfort zone by telling me stories about how he overcame his own incredibly strict diet as well.

He never told me what to do, but he suggested through story.

Listening to stories, leads the Control Freak like me to think that I came up with the idea that my diet needed to change on my own.

The Control Freak, as I’ve said a few times, loves to be in control – so when they think they’ve controlled themselves to a new conclusion they’re happy.

Step 3: Give them facts.

Another way to derail the Control Freak is just give them facts.

When I saw that my cholesterol was really low and Dr. Williams associated it to my hormone imbalances, I didn’t need to hear any more suggestions.

I knew I needed to change.

The Control Freak, if you can get them to hear the facts, will change.

The hard part is getting them to place where the facts can be presented.

A Control Freak won’t usually be open to getting blood tests or going to a lecture about a different type of diet, so you need to creatively get them there by using stories and suggestion.

If you want them to get their blood tested, tell them about a friend you know who had some issues with an unrelated ailment. Tell them the friend got their blood tested, they found out what it was and took some supplements to fix it.

Then, the kicker, is to tell the Control Freak that you’re going to get some testing and they’re welcome to join you.

Chances are they will. Remember, they need to be in control of that situation too! LOL.

Step 4: Don’t get too many Control Freaks in the same room.

This doesn’t necessarily apply to health, but it may apply to safety. (This is a Owner’s Guide you know… we have product liability.)

Step 5: Let them experience it for themselves

Finally, be sure that the Control Freak experiences the change themselves.

Know that they don’t want help and they want to be in control. If you can guide them to a conclusion that they feel they made on their own, everyone wins.

You have brought them up the rabbit hole a bit, they’re healthier (in mind and physically) and everyone in the family is much happier for it.

Now, on the other side…

The Never-Want-to-Changers – Owner’s Guide

WARNING: Banging your head against the wall, will not affect the Never-Want-to-Changers’ behavior. It will only hurt your head.

To use the Never-Want-to-Changer, be sure to follow these instructions completely:

Step 1: Understand the Never-Want-to-Changer fears change.

There’s nothing worse to a Never-Want-to-Changer than doing something different.

The Control Freak isn’t exactly afraid of doing things differently, their ego just wants to be sure that they came up with the idea.

On the other hand, the Never-Want-to-Changer is very afraid of breaking a pattern that they’ve done their entire life.

Never-Want-to-Changers are spouses, friends or family members that aren’t willing to change their diet no matter what signs of disease are showing.

They’d rather take their baloney and cheese sandwich to the grave, than think about trying a green smoothie.

Many times, for the Never-Want-to-Changer, the thought of anything green makes them queasy.

I have no idea why, but it’s in their DNA.

To help the Never-Want-to-Changer get healthier you have to understand that they are more than willing to change as long as they know it’s just as safe on the other side.

Their “change language” is doing.

Step 2: Show the Never-Want-to-Changer how to eat healthy.

The best way to get a Never-Want-to-Changer to want to change is to show them just how easy it is to eat healthier.

Telling them about people who are eating healthy or getting better will never work for them, like it does for the Control Freak.

The Never-Want-to-Changer has to see it and do it.

If they have diabetes, you need to take them to a place where people are recovering from diabetes and show them that it’s possible.

They need to see real people getting real results in order to think about changing themselves.

I think one of the reasons Annmarie changed her diet with me was because she saw how good she looked by just making a few changes. After that, she understood what raw foods were all about and gracefully made a transition.

Step 3: Please be patient with the Never-Want-to-Changer.

You may need to turn it on a few times before it finally gets moving.

Having patience is essential when working with a Never-Want-to-Changer.

If you show them how to make a green smoothie and two days later they’re eating bacon and eggs again for breakfast, you need to be patient and show them again.

The Never-Want-to-Changer doesn’t want to change, remember?

So the more you can ease them through the transition process, the more likely they are to stay on the track to healthier ways.

Step 4: Ask them what their biggest concerns are.

A secret to knowing the Never-Want-to-Changer is this…

The reason they may not want to change is because they have unanswered questions that are holding them back.

You’d be surprised, when you dig deeply enough, that the reason the Never-Want-to-Changer may not make green smoothies every morning is because they’re afraid they’ll run out of recipes in 4 weeks. Or, the reason they haven’t stuck with it is because they don’t like kale and you put kale in yours once, so they’re doing their best to avoid the moment you suggest they try kale in their own smoothie.

It may sound weird to a non-Never-Want-to-Changer, but it’s true.

For Never-Want-to-Changer to change, they need to know a lot.

So ask them questions and give them answers. You’ll be surprised at how receptive they are.

Step 5: Sometimes, you’re too much of a Control Freak to help them.

Here’s where the two personalities meet.

You’re a Control Freak who wants to change your Never-Want-to-Changer.

In this case, your best best is working on yourself first before you convert the Never-Want-to-Changer over to your (in their eyes) wacky health religion.

If you meet halfway, your chances of succeeding are much greater than if you keep pushing your ideas on someone who is deathly afraid of doing something different. It’s like trying to free a mouse from a room by scaring into a corner. It’s fear paralyzes it.

To work with the Never-Want-to-Changer, never push them too far.

If you’re a Control Freak, work on yourself first.

Of course there are many other ways to deal with these prevalent types of people, but these are two examples of how – we, in the past – have worked out or own health issues.

I hope it works for you too.

I want to know your thoughts: What camp are you in? Are you a Control Freak or a Never-Want-to-Changer?

Live Awesome!
Kev

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

24 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. These last few blogs about relationships to food has been some of your very best writing and I think would make an amazing start to a book. I have these articles printed out. They helped me a great deal adjust my relationship to food already and I’ll keep working on it.

  2. Tara Burner says:

    fortunately? I’m in neither of those camps! 🙂 I’m far from control freak and far from never want to changer as well…
    I just go with the flow, try new things, see what works/fits best for me at that given moment and enjoy.

  3. annie onny says:

    I’ve been bummed out by the negativity in this series. It feels to me like you’re venting in some passive aggressive guise of self-help. Which I guess is okay, everybody needs to let off steam, but it’s not what I’ve come to expect from Renegade Health. I don’t come here to make fun of anorexics and orthorexics.

    I also don’t like that you ask us “Which type are you?” – basically telling your whole audience that they’re sick in some way. Do you want us to be sick? Would that be better for you?

    • Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

      @Annie: If you can’t laugh at yourself, what do you have? I’ve been in many of these stages and still am in some of them in own my personal life. These were written to expose myself and help me grow – and bring along everyone in this week of introspection. 🙂

      I am confused as to where you saw me making fun of anorexics and orthorexics… this is surprising to me that you read into the articles to feel that.

      Kev

  4. Lori says:

    Definitely a control freak with a never want to change husband. Although, since he recently got sick with a cold and I have not been sick for a long time, he started drinking some of my green juice. So, yes they need to see that it works!

  5. Juanita says:

    I am also a control freak with a never want to change husband. He loves
    many healthy foods including green smoothies but hangs on to some junk foods. He says he wants to change but gets mad at me if I try to sway him from a poor choice. I think I will focus on myself and let him make his own choices. Thank-you Kevin. When it comes to our young son though, I am in charge. Luckily my husband sees the benefits of feeding our child healthy foods.

  6. Yamina says:

    I am afraid being a never-want-to-change ! I’d rather take a delicious cheese-sandwich to the grave than have a kale smoothie ! I just hate smoothies, even the name ! These huge stuff like babies vomit… Why american people eat in so huge quantities ? Their hamburgers, their drink, all is huuuuuuuge ! Babies’ food like. Even Mac Donalds’ hamburgers are for babies’ mouths without teeths… Instead of saying : “Oh ! It’s yummy ! You should say : “Oh ! It’s mummy !”
    I prefer daddy’s food… because my heart… Lol ! Your blog is so funny and full of information !

  7. I have pieces of both. I had a Mom who never wanted to change and a control-freak sort of Dad And I could appreciate both of them. I did not figure them out until I read this article; sad they both are gone now!

    I do tend to be a non-changer but I will stick my neck out in studying something. Once I learn something that is researched and reasonable, I can be control-freak about it.

  8. Definitely I am a control freak and my husband is a never-want to changer, the thing is, we have both adapted and I cook for him the foods that he loves, ultimately when he first knew me I wasn’t even a vegetarian, so respecting what he wants to do is the way to go with us. I don’t mind doing only hign raw vegetarian foods for me.
    And Kevin, one more thing, when I go out of town, and I am with my family I don’t do the I-can’t-eat-here anymore, and sometimes I’m sorry there was a time when I used to do that every time I went to visit them, so now they are the ones who ask me can you eat here? I only laugh now and say I can eat everywhere, and I accept I might not eat what I feel it’s right but I certainly enjoy the experience of being with my family, and I think that it’s healthier, I even eat desert sometimes, yes with all the milk and sugar jajajajajaja, and I am all right with that.

  9. Anna says:

    Okay, I REALLY like the fact that Kevin and Annmarie are humanizing themselves for us. It’s a huge turn-off when well-read and “followed” healthy examples (like Kev & Annmarie) act as though they have everything figured out. I, myself, have been on the journey towards better health (through food and exercise) for several years now. It’s always wonderful to hear how someone I respect started their journey as well. So thanks Kev & Annmarie for sharing this part of your life with us.

    Sadly, I am a control freak. Oh yeah baby! I do all of the grocery shopping, meal prep, food research, dehydrating, smoothie-making, and I’m just starting the fermented veggie making (after reading Body Ecology Diet a while back). I have two young girls and a husband who are my guinea pigs. Right now, I particularly enjoy old recipe videos because I just found you guys about 5 months ago.

    Keep up the FANTASTIC work!

  10. Vonciele says:

    I just want to say “Thank You” for honestly sharing your story as it unfolds. I find it all very valuable.

    Namaste

  11. rosemary says:

    I like your blog, but lately it feels like you’re trying to justify your dietary changes WAY too much. It’s like you’re trying to convince yourself that your choice was the right one and trying to convince everyone else too. Sounds very insecure. It also sounds like your taking shots at Matt Monarch i.e. “you’ve seen the light and he’s still a blind control freak.”

    I can relate though because when I went from 4 yr raw vegan to eating meat 1+ years ago, I felt the need to justify it to myself and others as well. But now I feel secure in my decision and I don’t feel the need to defend myself anymore.
    Just my 2 cents. Still love ya! 😉

    • Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

      @Rosemary: Wow! This never, ever, ever has crossed my mind… “It also sounds like your taking shots at Matt Monarch i.e. ‘you’ve seen the light and he’s still a blind control freak.” Each individual is entitled to their own choice. If raw works, keep doing it! If vegan works, even better! My role is to supply options, allow people to choose, and report truthfully what I’ve seen over the last few years on the road. It’s not the rosy picture most websites portray it to be! 🙂

  12. I think these are broad sweeping statements that don’t and can’t ring true for every situation. Having high standards of what you eat and believe should not be something to be scared of. It’s as difficult as you make it. All I know is that I feel incredibly vibrant on all organic raw produce and daily exercise. When I feel my best it enriches all my relationships. It is not necessary to put people off or become ridged when you plan well and set your priorities. Yes, it is important to be honest and objective, continually checking in with where your at, but there is no reason to water down your values because it is not “socially acceptable”. Be your own beacon of light, pass no judgement on others choices, and live freee!

    For a great blog of raw organic healthy inspiration check out
    http://rawfullyorganic.com/blog/

  13. Amy says:

    I think I fall more into the Never want to change category. My biggest question or reason, is that I feel it is so much work to eat healthier. I’ve been at this health diet for a long time, but I am a single mom of 2, and like has been discussed before, a large portion of my budget goes to food. I do intend well, but I find it difficult and time consuming to prepare healthy meals when I have kids that need my attention plus other responsibilities. I use my vita-mix, but it is not an end all, and still and honestly, I’m not a big fan of smoothies either, I just drink them because they are healthy and relatively easy to prepare. That is by far my biggest “fear to change” or “question”. My goal is to make this healthy eating lifestyle more realistic for people like me. Because let’s face it, most of America eats like crap because its cheap, BUT, let’s not forget that most of America eats like crap because its also far more convenient to swing through McDonald’s, cook up a box of cheap mac and cheese, or some other ridiculous processed food. I genuinely care and try, but feel that the challenge is insurmountable (fear?). I do the best I can, but I want to do better, I just don’t know how to make it “easy” enough…

  14. Kathy says:

    I finally got my Never-Want-to-Changer to take a sip of what I thought was my best green smoothie, and you would have thought he was drinking poison. That was the end of the green smoothie drinking for him. Until I come up with another strategy… (yes, I tend toward the Control Freak side). I wonder how many Never-Want-to-Changers are Tauruses like mine 🙂

  15. My personality varies from control freak all the way to never-want-to-changer. That’s just how I roll! I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and am having fun laughing at myself and my funny ways. I have not found your tone offensive, but I tend to want to explore the meaning of things that are under the surface. It doesn’t scare me off. Thanks for helping me to see that in social situations, I need to try harder not to let my veganism get too out of control!

  16. Cindy says:

    Great series of articles. It certainly makes you laugh at how funny people can be. I’ve been a little of the Never Want To Changer, but was a major Control Freak for years. It used to be “my way or the highway.” I would constantly get angry at my kids & husband if they didn’t follow my way of eating. As I’ve gotten older, I have learned to just take care of myself & lighten up where everyone else is concerned. It definitely makes for more pleasant family gatherings.

  17. Savannah says:

    Kevin,

    I really like this series that you have done! I am 16 years old and about August this year I went from eating mostly raw and boiled eggs in the morning and some beans (hummus) to eating 100% raw. I am definitely a control freak, sad to say : ( I have become very rigid about my diet and find that going out to eat is stressful for me, especially when my dad comes. He does not know that I eat raw. My mom does however and she supports it, but i think she wishes that I would just be vegan. I have been debating going back to vegan, but I want to do it the right way. So I was wondering how you have done it. What have you added back in and what have you continued to keep out? Also is there anything that you feel you have started to eat again that maybe messed with the light free feeling that you got from eating raw? I do not want to keep missing hummus and soup and beans and rice, but I am a runner and raw has really helped with my running, I never worry about how hard a run will be anymore because they have all been so good. No cramps (unless i eat too many bananas! : ) haha ) Anyway I would love to hear from you about this! thank you so much for everything you are doing on your blog, it’s really great!

    -savannah

  18. According to Eckhart Tolle, when the ego identifies with something and attaches to that it’s very dangerous not recognized it, and he says unattachment leads to freedom. Once I became attached to my vegan diet, then to my raw diet, and it took me time to realize that wasn’t healthy. My ego was totally controlling me to the point that I was affraid to talk to my husband and tell him my health was suffering, although he was well aware of that…When we get irritated by reading something like you Kevin posted in these series, is, I think, because of the ego not accepting the fact that it needs to let go of the labels that it attaches to, vegan, raw foodist, etc. Right now I find easier to socialize because I have accepted that when I am around the people I love that is enough for me and my health than being scared about what they are eating, and what could I eat. Now I am only a vegetarian that sometimes eats fish and that sometimes people are going to ask me, aren’t you a vegetarian anymore? I now have the freedom to say, I eat the most healthy diet for me, and sometimes it includes some fish.

  19. Ceridwen says:

    I love your honesty and your willingness to open up about your own experience. I agree that dogmatism is dangerous in matters of diet. I know a man whose cancer went into remission when he went vegan. He remains vegan and is extremely healthy. I know a woman with an autoimmune disorder who experienced tremendous improvements on the Anne Wigmore raw protocols, but who eventually started including meat again because without it she had very little stamina.

    We are so individually complex–as is the world we live in—that I can’t believe there is one right diet for all of us. I’m not even sure that there is one right diet for the entirety of each individual life. I seem to need more animal products than i used to. I am very weak, fatigued, and more hypgoglycemic when i cut back to a smaller amount of meat and eggs. All we can do is eat as consciously and ethically as possible, without making it a life-consuming obsession (as you so clearly delineate). I think perhaps there is a “Superhero eater” who believes that not only are they saved or damned by their food choices, but so is the entire planet.

  20. karina says:

    When will the final part of this 5 part series be launched at your site?

  21. Beth says:

    I’m a Control Freak who Never Wants to Change. It is a killer combination, but I am making progress in both areas.
    Thankfully my husband has learned not to tell me what to do. And I have learned to ask for help when I find myself getting frustrated. After all, it isn’t just the area of “health” and “diet” that is affected.

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