DEAR HARRIETTE: I live a healthy lifestyle in which I try to get plenty of exercise and eat unprocessed foods. It’s something that I am passionate about and have fun with. Recently, I have had distant friends from college and even high school reach out to me for nutritional and diet advice. While I am always eager to share a few pearls of wisdom, the truth of the matter is that I am not a nutritionist, nor do I have time to pretend to be one. Do I have to respond to every message I get? I feel guilty, but ultimately I know these people will not heed my advice for more than a few days. -- No Fitness Guru, Chester, Pennsylvania
DEAR NO FITNESS GURU: What’s happening is that your friends and loved ones are seeing the positive effects of your smart life choices, and they want the same for themselves. This is fantastic. However, it can feel like a burden, as you have described. To the best of your ability, don’t shrug them off. You can recommend that they follow a healthy path, which starts by getting a complete physical to find out their health status.
Be clear to your friends that you are not a nutritionist, and you do not have the knowledge or authority to tell them how to change their lifestyles. When you talk about nutrition or exercise, frame it about yourself, because that’s all you have the expertise to discuss. If they ask you what they should do, suggest that they get their own nutritionist or trainer.
If you continue to get a barrage of requests for nutritional and diet advice, consider writing a blog about your personal experiences. When people ask, point them to your blog to check out what you know.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I take medication for ADD, and I have lost around 15 pounds because I have been forgetting to eat. My medication completely subdues my appetite, and I notice I haven’t eaten only when I feel weak and sluggish. I know many people have the opposite problem with food, but people have expressed their concern for my figure, not knowing that I am on medication. How can I remind myself to eat when I don’t get hungry anymore? -- Higher Dosages, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR HIGHER DOSES: Your first stop needs to be to your doctor to make sure that your dosage is right. Ask about the side effect of such a dramatic lack of appetite. You may need an adjustment in your prescription, which only your doctor can address.
What you can do is practical. Set an alarm on your phone or travel clock every four hours. When it sounds, that’s time to eat something, whether it is a healthy snack or a full meal. Using technology to support your health can make it easier for you to remember to eat. Be sure to be prepared with foods that will nourish your body. Your responsibility in this is essential for you to establish balance in your health.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)