Deciding to be a “healthy eater” or even just trying out a new diet can often feel isolating, and at times extremely frustrating. There are constant obstacles, life gets in the way, you fall off the wagon, or maybe even give up altogether because you’re tired of the uphill battle. I think of this lifestyle change as a journey because it doesn’t happen overnight. And while the journey can sometimes leave you feeling disconnected from friends and family, as it has and still does for me from time to time, it doesn’t have to.

As health and nutrition trends continue to gain momentum, you’ll discover that many people are actually on the same journey as you, or at the very least curious about what it entails. For me, it wasn’t until I started immersing myself into the health and wellness community and finding other like minded people, that I started to finally feel a shift, and that I was part of something that was going to make my life better. Healthy eating is like anything, the more you learn and the more you do it, the easier and more natural it becomes. Here are some tips that helped me avoid feeling isolated, and got me excited to keep powering through my choice to eat the way I knew was best for me.

USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR INSPIRATION AND IDEAS
While Facebook and Instagram are great for keeping up with friends and teen celebrity romances, there is a massive community out there of health and wellness experts who offer a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Whether it’s for meal ideas or for health and wellness tips, why not be inspired by your social media feeds rather than using them simply as distractions? Some great accounts to start with include: Joyous Health, Green Kitchen Stories, Deliciously Ella, My New Roots and Oh She Glows.

SEEK OUT LIKE-MINDED FRIENDS
Maybe you already have a couple friends or acquaintances who have started down the same path as you, or maybe you’ve noticed a co-worker is as crazy about overnight oats as you are. Not only is it fun sharing a passion with other people, but it’s a great way to continue to expand your knowledge, as you are bound to learn about new restaurants, recipes and food bloggers. It’s also a great way to feel like you’re not alone, and who knows, you might find a new friend who prefers chatting about gut health over kombucha, rather than sharing a bottle of wine (note: I love wine, no judgement there).

COOK DINNER FOR YOUR FRIENDS
One thing I’ve learned is no one likes a preachy friend (or sister or daughter). Not everyone has the same priorities and knowledge as you, so it’s important not to impose your lifestyle on others, no matter how excited you are about it. People tend to learn best through experience, so rather than informing your friends about why they might benefit from cutting dairy out of their diet, why not cook them a delicious dairy-free dinner instead? You never know, they might even be asking you to share a recipe or two with them afterwards.

TRY A COOKING CLASS
A cooking class is such a great way to learn or brush up on your healthy cooking skills. Whether it’s plant-based cooking, raw desserts or vegan pizza (dream cooking class), there’s something for everyone. Classes are also a great way to meet people and immerse yourself in the community. Attending lectures, health and wellness talks and workshops are also great options.

FIND RESTAURANTS THAT FOCUS ON NUTRITIOUS FOOD
There’s nothing more fun than finding a new restaurant that fits your dietary guidelines, and where you don’t feel obnoxious for inquiring about gluten-free options. Rather than scrolling through menus, wondering what you are “allowed” to eat, why not choose a restaurant that already caters to healthy eating, and the only choice you have to make is what meal sounds the most appealing?

Bottom line – healthy eating shouldn’t feel restrictive, complicated or like you’re missing out. Of course it’s likely going to feel this way when you’re starting out, but the more you learn and the more you try, the more natural it will feel, and I promise, you won’t feel always feel so left out.

Photo by: @briannapersall