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Here’s some good news. If you’re a health coach, nutritionist, dietitian, parent, or any food enthusiast who wants to have others eat precisely what you want them to eat, I think I can tell you how to do it. Of course, we’re doing this for a very good reason – a lot of us are smart enough to know the best ways for people to feed themselves. We want our fellow eaters to receive the same wondrous benefits that we have from our preferred and enlightened nutritional system. So if your husband or boyfriend is a junk food eater, or if your client can’t get it together and eat the right way, you’ve come to the right place.

I must confess that these are “trade secrets”, but I’m really eager to share them. Here goes:

If you want people to eat exactly what you want them to eat, it’s useful to know a little bit of the history of how others have done this in the past. Experts have been enamored with such strategies for quite a long time, but honestly, if they truly knew what they were doing, their interventions would have worked and we likely wouldn’t be in this conversation. So what I’m going to do is to first fill you in on the 5 dietary compliance strategies that have been most commonly used, and then share with you the 5 new and improved strategies that I’ve used with excellent success.

5 Outdated Dietary Compliance Strategies

  1. Tell people they’ll be really healthy
  2. Tell people they’ll live a really long time
  3. Tell women they’ll be really skinny, tell men they’ll be muscular and virile
  4. Tell everyone that they’re screwed if they don’t eat your way
  5. Give irrefutable scientific proof that says your nutritional approach is “right”

There you have it my friends. Check out any popular nutrition or diet book from any particular expert and you’ll likely get some version of the above. And honestly, there’s a wisdom and a usefulness to these strategies. I still use these myself whenever the need arises. The challenge of course, is that there are so many different and conflicting nutritional systems available for popular consumption that eventually people catch on to this strange paradox. How can all the experts be right if everybody’s saying something different? I especially tend to put little trust in anyone who tells me that a particular diet will grant me 100 years of life if that person isn’t at least 99 years old. Isn’t that just plain old common sense?

Now let’s take a moment and consider an updated version of how to help others best digest and absorb the dietary advice that you sincerely believe they should follow. My assumption is that you care about others, you’re turned on by health, you want to share what you’ve learned with the world, and that you’re called to make a difference.

5 New and Improved Dietary Compliance Strategies

1. Give dietary wisdom, not information:

I notice that far too many people are suffering from a “high fact diet.” Eaters these days are inundated with all kinds of juicy nutritional information that doesn’t quite add up. Nutritional confusion is the new eating disorder. The simple solution here is to appeal to the higher order of understanding that we all have. Wisdom means encouraging people to follow their own innate guidance. Wisdom means presenting people with facts, and inviting them to explore and experiment in the spirit of a true scientist. Wisdom means that we encourage people to tap in to the intelligence of their own body. And finally, wisdom means that we don’t always know how anyone’s nutritional journey needs to truly unfold. Each of us will live out our own unique metabolic destiny.

2. Give nutritional advice that has heart:

Yes, go ahead and tell people what and how you think they ought to eat. But please make sure that you offer them a nutritional journey that has heart. Speak from a place of shared humanity. Communicate with kindness. Most often, when we tell someone “don’t eat that food, it’s bad for you”, what they often hear is “you’re a bad person for eating that food.” Make sure that your advice elevates the other. If we give someone a nutritional approach that’s limiting, lifeless, and filled with punishing language, we inject a subtle poison into their relationship with food. Nutritional advice is best prepared and served with love.

3. Add some spicy passion:

My favorite health and nutrition experts tend to have this one thing in common – they’re very passionate. Something special happens when we allow ourselves to communicate to the world from a turned-on place. We don’t always realize it, but our ears are fine-tuned to words that are spoken not from somebody else’s head, but that are vocalized from every cell in their body. Nutrition information delivered without passion is like eating a meal absent of any flavor. The body will likely get the nutrients it needs, but something very important is missing. And there’s a good chance you’ll never eat that meal again. The world doesn’t need nutrition or health advice that’s cooked with boredom. Be creative. Spice it up. If you want to inspire someone to eat a certain way, then rock their nutritional world.

4. Honor people – no matter what they eat:

Here’s the challenge: when we tell someone to follow a particular diet, we’re often saying at the same time that what they’re currently eating sucks. Maybe they know better, maybe they don’t, but there’s a way to honor people no matter what they eat. When others feel you coming from that place, they tend to listen. Years back, I had a client, a 35-year-old successful businesswoman from Atlanta who was suffering from fatigue and wanted some nutritional help. When I inquired about her diet, she informed me that breakfast was hostess cupcakes, her mid-morning snack was doughnuts, lunch was peanut butter and jelly on Wonder Bread, her next snack was Twinkies, and dinner was either frozen pizza or Cocoa Puffs cereal. She was serious. I’d never done this before, nor have I done it since, but I started laughing out loud. I honestly couldn’t help myself. She looked a bit mortified and asked what was so funny. I said that this sounded like the diet of a 7 year-old whose parents were away. She paused for a thoughtful second, and burst into tears. Sure enough, she was raised by a single mom in poverty, and most of the time was sadly alone, and feeding herself. Needless to say, I begged her for forgiveness, and learned a very powerful lesson that day: we can never know for sure who people are, where they come from, or what drives the way they nourish themselves. Respect your fellow humans no matter what they eat.

5. Inspire people beyond good food:

I believe if we’re going to tell others what to eat or indeed how to eat better, then our dietary advice has real nutritional value when it’s more than just about food. Does it truly matter to any of us what kind of groceries someone chooses to entertain their palette with? There’s a bigger and more useful point to eating healthy, and that point is to have the kind of vibrant biology that allows us to express our fullest human potential. Good nutrition is meant to launch us into the highest possibility that incarnation holds for each one of us. So don’t just tell people what to eat. Let them know that the ultimate meal is to feast on their own greatness, and serve it to the world.

Please feel free to share with us some of your own nutritional wisdom around how you’ve inspired others to follow the kind of diet that speaks to both body and soul.

Warmest regards,
Marc David
Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

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  • Suzanne

    Well stated. Thanks for sharing this insight.

    • Lindsay Young

      Hi Suzanne –

      Lindsay here at IPE.
      So glad you enjoyed Marc’s latest article!

  • I love what you wrote. I think it is also so important to add humor and to relate to your clients. I share sooo much of my own personal journey with my clients. By showing how human I am and how imperfectly perfect I am in this world on a daily basis I think it allows them to realize that we are all human, with lots and lots of imperfections.

    • Stacy –

      Thank you so much for your kindness, and your appreciation for my humor. We have gotten into this belief that we must not be human around each other. We have to keep this degree of professionalism that turns us into logical automatons. Sometimes vulnerability and connection is just what our clients need from us in order to manifest their own breakthroughs. Being fully human and fully present is key.

      Thanks for all the work you’re doing to support your tribe.

      Marc David

  • Jo Ann Broquie

    Tears. Tears. Tears. There is so much truth and and compassion in your words…they fill me with gratitude and passion, to be a better counselor, a better human being. How can words be so gentle and so strong at the same time? Beautiful, simply beautiful.

    • Hi Jo Ann –

      Thank you so much for your lovely sincere response. I am so delighted to share in your passion and gratitude for this work.

      Marc David

    • Well said, Jo Ann! As a person looking to go into Holistic Health, these are invaluable words of wisdom to keep in mind as I begin to practice.

  • This is exactly what I try when talking to parents about feeding their kids. I teach them not to force or pressure kids to eat a certain way, but teach kids to listen to the wisdom of their bodies. Surrounding children with healthy and tasty foods, being a role model and showing over telling, can be very powerful. Thanks so much for the helpful article!

    • Maryann –

      This is so great. I love to hear these stories: it’s so empowering to know that more and more people are getting it. And better yet, sharing it! Like any of us, children thrive in the right environments and they are so quick to absorb the good wisdom we pass down to them when we begin early. Teaching a child to recognize the wisdom of their bodies is such a gift. Thanks for adding to our discussion here and thank you for all that you do.

      Warm regard,
      Marc David

    • Jane Alexandra

      This is such a good reminder for parents. I really struggle with my 8 year old who is a very fussy eater. I have to remind myself to be patient with him and teach through example. The last thing we want to do is to teach our children to fear food and to ignore what their bodies tell them by forcing them to eat something they truly don’t want.

      • Hi Jane,

        I’m so glad you find this useful. I agree; there’s such an overload of information out there about how to feed our kids, and yet we’re still missing the mark more and more. Patience is definitely a virtue in this area. Another thing to experiment with is getting your children involved in the choosing process at the store: “can you find 3 nice looking carrots?” and the cooking, preparing – or even growing process – at home. I find that when children are involved in these aspects of the daily meals, they seem more interested in doing the eating too.

        Force achieves nothing. Invitation and joy, however, can make all the difference.

        Thanks for sharing in our discussion!

        Marc David

  • Chris

    So well put, Marc! So many people are impassioned by their healthful eating & lifestyle, but are somewhat militant & rigid in their sharing techniques. Passion is great, but compassion is far greater. Thanks so much for your insights!

    • Chris –

      Thank you! It’s true – the zeal of healing is contagious. Feeling like we’ve found the secret is intoxicating, and of course, we care about our fellows and desire for them to feel the benefits that we do. We just have to be committed to being gentle and compassionate in our desire to share with our tribes. Thanks for reading.

      Marc David

  • So beautifully stated, thanks Marc!

    • Thank You, Terri –

      So glad to hear you enjoyed it!

      Marc David

  • Laura Maria Hornsby

    I really appreciate this article. I used to tell people what to eat, based on their muscle results. Even though this information was customized and personal for each person, I would have loved to have enlightened with these suggestions in your article. I will use this in my next incarnation as an eating and health coach!

    By the way, I look forward to meeting Marc and the other staff that will be part of the coaching certification program beginning in 2013!

    Thank you and Namaste.

    • Hi Laura Maria –

      So, good to hear from you.
      I’m happy you you enjoyed this article, and am glad you’re preparing for your new incarnation 🙂

      I too look forward to having you with us this October!
      It’s going to be a fabulous training.

      Marc David

  • I loved what you said in this newsletter–especially about the woman eating like a 7-year-old. It’s so true that our past almost haunts us unless we love it for who we are today. Not that the things done to you are lovable, but knowing this is what your were framed by and accepting and moving into the present so that your future can be filled with love and compassion as well as your present! Thank you, Marc, once again, Wendy

    • Hi Wendy,

      So glad to hear you felt drawn to this post. We are all moving through our own stories and daily evolution, and as you say, hopefully towards a loving and compassionate future. Thanks so much for contributing to the discussion here.


      Marc David

  • Chantelle

    Marc… thanks so much for that. Great article with so much wisdom in your New Age Dietary Strategies. These are def a keeper, as I roll out my own health coaching business.

    • Chantelle –

      You are so welcome, of course – and thank you for the work you are doing!

      Warm Regards,

      Marc David

  • Pamela

    Very compelling content! I love the way its written and the meaning is robust and clear. I’m already in the throngs of a health coach certification, but you can be sure I’ll be considering yours in the future!

    • Hi Pamela –

      I’m so pleased to hear you think so! Thank you for stepping into this work with an eye on moving forward in this field. The world needs our passion and our gifts.

      We look forward to connecting with you in the future! If you ever have any questions about what we do here, do not hesitate to contact us at

      Warm Regards,

      Marc David

  • Such a great article and thank you for sharing your story about the woman who burst into tears. We are all human, aren’t we? I have decided to stop giving nutritional advice at all and solely focus on mental, emotional and spiritual health. I let my clients know they can eat whatever they want and then with this type of freedom they begin to naturally eat healthier without me saying one thing about it. Maybe it’s just the clients I attract but I have found the further I can separate food and weight the healthier they are overall. Of course without Marc I never would have achieved this type of wisdom for myself of my clients. I truly appreciate you and am so happy to say that I trained with someone so masterful.

    • Michelle –

      I’m so glad you’re finding ways to incorporate this approach with your clients. I think you’ll see more and more success into the future with the people you serve. I’m honored to have been a part of your great professional development. Thanks for sharing your insights with all of us here.


      Marc David

  • Betsy

    Cook for them! I just made my friends at work a super delicous and nutritious breakfast and they loved it! I was a bit hesitant but they were happy I was sharing my love and food with them so I couldve given them ANYTHING and they would’ve loved it.

    Thanks for your words! I love reading everything you write! You are awesome! Come to Australia 🙂

    • Betsy –

      Thank you for your kind words.

      How lucky your friends must be! The nourishment we receive in our lives comes from more than just the food on our plates, sometimes it’s also about who’s sharing our table, as you’ve described here.

      I would love to come to Australia!


      Marc David

  • Woohoo! I love this.. It even made me cry at one point, what’s wrong with me!? I am not a health coach or anything, but this is valuable to me as a parent and a human being who cares about the health and well-being of those around me. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Blues –

      I’m so glad you found you enjoyed this! There’s nothing wrong with being moved by a piece of information that rang true for you and you hardly have to be a coach or an expert to want to take care of those around you. Thanks for joining in on the conversation here.

      Marc David

  • Thanks so much for this informative piece. I love how you divided up the various cravings and it makes so much sense. I agree that showing your own vulnerability is crucial in creating a strong relationship with your client and helps them have permission to be human as well. I could not agree more about infusing humor and light heartedness into the picture as well and have found that laughter and humor are a great way to bring us back to our natural buoyant and joyful selves.

    • Hi Sheryl,

      You are so welcome and thank you for your kind words.
      It seems we are very much on the same page around working with others.
      Thanks for everything you’re doing in the world, as well.

      Marc David

  • Oh you are a man after my own heart! What a lovely, insightful article!

    • Hi Juliana —

      Thank you for the kind words! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.


      Marc David

  • business coaching for pilates

    I really love reading your blog. One of a kind, Thank you for sharing!

    • Lindsay Young


      Lindsay here at IPE.
      We’re so happy to hear you enjoy Marc David’s articles and the work we’re doing here at the Institute.
      Thank you!

  • Hi Marc, I was led here because a coach friend of mine said to me my style reminds her what what this article describes. I met you in 2004 while studying at IIN. The wisdom you shared had deeply inspired me. Your books are my most recommended books for my clients (and are in fact sold in our store). Thank you for making your “trade secrets” so easy to understand and replicate – it has helped me to communicate to my team too! Let’s continue to spread the wave of nutritional wisdom, self love and enlightenment!

    • Hi Anita,

      Nice to hear from you – and I remember you from way back then!
      Thank you for your kind words and for introducing my books to your clients. I’m so glad this work has had a positive impact for you and your team.
      Happy to be on this path with you.

      Marc David

  • Rika Susan

    Hello from South Africa, Marc. I love your article! This is exactly what I try to live out at my juicing and nutrition website. What you wrote is inspiring, encouraging and moving.

    Your are so right about honoring people. It is amazing how, when I respect another’s way of being, trust almost automatically enters into the picture. I feel very privileged and honored when I get a glimpse into the personal world of a juicing friend, which makes me feel like treading carefully and lightly so as never to harm, hurt or disrespect.

    • Rika –

      I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the article.
      Thank you for recognizing the power that comes with honoring others.
      I’m happy to know there are people like you who are offering compassion and support to those who need it.

      Marc David

  • holly

    I read this and felt the wisedom and kindness with each guideline, especially since most of us (in our journey to learn what works best for our chemical biological make-up) have been told at one time or another “that’s not good for you” or “why are you doing that to your body?” The historical and cultural importance is just as much a part of nutrition as the emotional and psychological reasons which guide our choices. And oftentimes our internal guide is in conflict with all of the outside influences in our social environment. The only drawback with these guidelines is I can hear some pragmatists responding, “Yea, but what do I eat?” When I respond to the compliment “you look great, what is your diet?” I always share general guidelines, but then try to explain to the person in the kindest of terms that everyone’s body is unique and has individual needs that determines what works best. I think they appreciate this, but often the conversation ends with, “yea, but what do you eat everyday?”

    • Hi Holly –

      Thanks for your wisdom.
      I also understand this difficulty that arises, because I too see this: everyone wants to know “what to eat” – and yes there are some rough guidelines, but few are willing to do the harder work, which is all about discovery.

      Thank you for understanding the sometimes-tricky nature of these conversations.

      Marc David

  • Ryan

    This article really inspired me. Many people keep asking me questions on what to eat and avoid to get lean and lose weight but I cannot seem to convince them because of becoming insensitive at times. Especially I’m in a country where their staple food seems to be unavoidable in large amounts. in the end what I advise is “what matters most is HOW much you eat” in losing weight. Finding a way to eat less without getting stressed is what controlling weight is all about.

    • Hey Ryan,
      Thanks for the kind words, and as always, I think you hit on a point that’s so important for so many of us.

      Marc David

  • Francis

    yes its high time to make people aware of their food.. Everyone should which food is healtier for them.

    • Hi Francis,

      Indeed —
      And the trick is, what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. Bio-Individuality is a huge part of health. Listening is to your own body wisdom is key.

      Thanks for joining in,

  • Debra

    Summer Greetings!!! Wow, I am sooo excited to find you and your experts – very much looking forward to attending the August 5-9 session.

    Debra Bayless

    • Hi Debra,
      We’re so happy you’re joining us!


  • Hi Marc..
    This moved me deeply..After working mostly one on one with women for 25 yrs, am now in a setting where I get to teach. And I can feel the passion and intensity.. the heart of what we know and love about how we are able to impact each other in new ways.. coming into the mix in a new way.
    It IS the heart of it, the wisdom of it, the love of it all that allows those who have tried and tried again to trust us, to hear the info in new and different ways and to keep moving forward.. now able to trust their own intuitive knowing..

    Love and blessings..

    • Hi Lisa,
      I’m touched to hear this resonated with you on such a personal level.
      It sounds like you’re doing wonderfully important work in the world, thank you on behalf of all the women you’ve served.

      Warm Regards,

  • Denise Trudeau

    Powerful and compelling. I love the way you write!

  • Dear David,
    Where have you been all my life? I just learned about you this summer when I found your online seminar that I enjoyed deeply! My path in life would have been very different if I’d heard about you and the Institute for The Psychology of Eating earlier…however, I’m currently enrolled in IIN and enjoying it, and hopefully, once I’m done with it and have enough clients to afford it, I’d love to become an eating psychology coach. This post was truly inspiring, and I’m saving it forever. I just wrote a post in my personal blog inspired by The Slow Down Diet, and I’d love if you took a look at it. You’ve become a guiding voice inside my head! Thank you for your amazing gift!

    • Hi Alexandra,
      So glad to “meet” you here…
      We’d love to have you in a future training – lots of our students have been through IIN and seek to complement their studies their with our training, with much success and growth! Thank you for mentioning me on your blog – I’m so glad you enjoyed the Slow Down Diet.

      Marc David

  • Lucille

    Thank you for their Marc!

    I am doing a talk to the High school girls (age 13 to 18) at my daughters school about improving the quality of the food they choose to nourish themselves with. I want to encourage them from stories of my own personal experience – I feel I have learned things that I so want to share with young girls. We need our young girls to nourish themselves well so that they can do their good work in the world. Your article has given me so many ideas about how to inspire them. Thank you thank you!

    • Hi Lucille,

      Thank you for all the work you are doing to help inspire girls to nourish themselves in a healthy way, and I’m glad I could help inspire you in your work!

      Thanks for reaching out to share your story….


  • Guest

    most of your 5 examples above focused on what NOT to say . . . I would love some examples to illustrate your points of WHAT TO SAY!

  • Marc does touch on what to say in the examples above, or rather, how to frame the specific things that you want to tell people, so I am not sure exactly what you mean.

    We do not recommend giving universal advice.
    This article was about how to express specific advice for individuals in terms that will help them to hear it.

    See the list here:

    1. Give dietary wisdom, not information
    2. Give nutritional advice that has heart
    3. Add some spicy passion
    4. Honor people – no matter what they eat
    5. Inspire people beyond good food

    Hope this helps!

  • dana

    Super article! As a therapist and health coach, you put into words the professional (and always part of personal) virtues I try to live by. Thank you for this

    • Thanks so much for this kind feedback, Dana! These guidelines can definitely carry over into other areas of life. Thanks for being a caring and passionate coach! Warmly, Marc

  • Robin

    This is a great article. Too often those of us in the health food industry get too high on our horses. A good diet is a tool for health. While an important one, it is not the only one.

    I find another mistake that well intentioned health foodies do is assume that people who say they don’t have time to cook much from scratch are either lazy or have their priorities mixed up. I think we should not make these assumptions. We don’t know what might be going in someone’s life that makes something else more important than cooking. It might be something they don’t want to talk about.

    So instead of saying things like “you just have to make time” . . . it is better to suggest the best alternatives that work within the time frame they can manage.

    When it comes to junk food consumption . . . I’ve found that suggesting healthier alternatives sometimes works better than telling someone to give up their indulgence. Last year I bought myself a Yonanas Elite dessert maker and loved it so much I got one for my parents and my brother & sister-in-law this past Christmas. It makes an ice cream-like dessert quickly and easily with frozen fruit. It works better than any other method I’ve tried.

    Things like this can help. And sometimes suggesting small changes here and there is better than telling someone their whole diet needs an overhaul ASAP!

    • Thanks so much for sharing these suggestions, Robin! You’re right, telling someone they need to completely overhaul their diet rarely works – especially when they haven’t asked for advice. But a healthy dessert maker sounds like a very “sweet” present! Warmly, Marc

About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.