It’s a plight I hear too often. Maybe it is your partner who isn’t ready to give up the ice cream, or your kids who think veggies are the world’s worst creation. Having your family on board when you are ready to whip your diet into shape is important in helping you reach your nutrition and health goals. The good news is that it is possible to get your household on the health track – and if not, then I’ll show you how to do it solo.
If you do it with your family, you’ve got a built in cheerleading system that makes getting healthy a whole lot more doable and fun! With that said however, your loved ones aren’t there to police you – what you eat is your responsibility, it is unfair to place that burden on someone else.
The first step is making your goals known. Have a conversation with your family or partner, and tell them you need their help. Even if they’re reluctant at first, they’ll often start to follow as they watch you troop on and see how great you feel. However, If the chips and chocolates are still around, keep them relatively hidden (not slap bang in the middle of the kitchen table). If it is harder for you to access, you’ll be less tempted to eat it – you know what they say: out of sight, out of mind.
Involve the family in meal planning and preparations. Allocate each family member a ‘night’ to choose a healthy dinner, and help to prepare it! When you are at the shops with kids, involve them in selecting food products – for example, if you need apples allow them to choose between red, pink and green apples. Or, start up your own vegetable garden at home and get the kids to help plant and maintain the garden. This gives them a sense of empowerment, pride and excitement. It will ensure that they are more willing to be involved in the preparation of meals and try new foods.
Be careful how you discuss healthy eating too – instead of cooking a healthy stir fry, cook a delicious stir fry! The H-word can sometimes be a bit daunting. Watch out for the D-word too. When you say that you are going on a diet, it suggests that it is something you are ‘on’ for the moment, and will probably be ‘off’ later. It sends a message that its not a permanent change and everything will go back to ‘normal.’
Learn the art of ingredient substitution. Instead of mayonnaise in your coleslaw or salad dressings, use plain low fat or fat free yoghurt. Use low fat or fat free milk instead of full cream milk. Bake your chips instead of fried chips. Popcorn instead of crisps… you get the idea, right?
Remember to go slow and practice a bit of patience too. Instead of turning your household’s eating habits upside down, focus on one thing a week or slowly phase out unhealthy eating habits. For example, if your kids refuse to eat veggies, decide on a single day this week to include vegetables in a meal. Next week, increase it to two days. If you make the changes gradually over a few weeks, your family might not even notice the difference.
Most importantly, don’t give up. Not every meal will go perfectly. You’ll be told the broccoli tastes gross, and that water is just not the same as cold drinks or juice. Still, keep going – remember, slow and steady wins the race. In the long run everyone will benefit.
Commit to honoring your healthy aspirations while hearing their concerns, and find a small way to get the ball moving. Ask yourself, what is the one things I can do this week to help my family eat healthier meals? Now pencil it in and get on with it.