What to do when your family won’t eat healthy

Food is big part of our lives and our society. Many different ways of eating have started gaining traction in the last several years: vegetarianism, vegan, Atkins, paleo, primal, keto, Mediterranean….The list goes on.

You may have decided to change your way of eating but others in your household (spouse, significant other, children, roommates) are not on board with that. When we live with others who do not share our philosophy on food, it can become divisive.

So how can we deal with the struggles of different ways of eating (WOE) in a way in which all parties can be happy?

Explain/Express Yourself

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  • If you are contemplating changing your WOE, it is important to have a discussion with your significant other/children/other household residents. Sit down and explain WHY you are contemplating this change. Is it because of a moral issue, like the ethical treatment of animals? Is it a health concern, such as the doctor recommending not eating as many refined carbohydrates at your last appointment?
  • Let the others in the house know that you are making the change for you and while you are not going to demand that they change all of their own food habits, it’s important for them to respect your decision. Explain that this is something that you need to do to reclaim your health.
  • Be open about stumbling blocks. If a household member is bringing home fast food and that is a temptation for you, ask if they could eat their food elsewhere, as opposed to bringing it home. Let them know that while you are not necessarily requiring them to change their habits, you do need their support to change yours.

No Judgment

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  • If others in your house are not eating the same as you, it is important to not shame or judge them for their choices. That will make them less likely to ever change. The best thing to do is to make your changes and be an example.
  • Talking about your food beliefs in a positive light is more beneficial than knocking someone else’s.
  • Frame statements in a positive light and from your perspective. “I’ve notice my skin has really cleared up since I’ve given up dairy!” as opposed to “Your acne is probably caused by the greasy foods you’re always eating.” You-statements put people in a defense mode, while I-statements generally make people more open or curious.

Make modifications

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  • Instead of making a brand new crazy menu all at once, make smaller changes. Too much change all at once can be intimidating.
  • A great way to start is to make family favorites but in a healthier way. You can make burgers for everyone in the family but just leave the buns off of your own.
  • Mashed potatoes can be a great comfort food; you can make them with a blend of potatoes and cauliflower, or even sweet potatoes and cauliflower.
  • A pan of roasted veggies with homemade ranch dressing (without all of the industrial oils and sugar!) make a great addition. And most foods taste better with ranch!
  • If you are the primary meal planner/cook in the household, you will have control over what everyone else eats. Compromises can be struck. If others in the household are not interested in changing, maybe they can assist with cooking the foods that they want to keep in their diet that you will be eliminating. Maybe for the primary cook it’s not too much extra work to make an extra side or some ingredient that can be easily incorporated into the meal.

Find a community

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  • These days we can create a virtual community of people from around the world thanks to social media. Odds are that you can find a Facebook community or Instagram account for any WOE you desire. It’s great forum in which to share recipes, articles, and tips with others who share your food values.
  • Talk to people you know in real life: people in your neighborhood, church, workplace, gym, etc. Who knows – maybe someone in your office is in a similar predicament and is also looking for support. You can start your own support/accountability group.

Make it fun

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  • Get the kids involved! Watch YouTube cooking videos and then try out the recipe. Teaching them good nutrition habits and how to cook, especially when they are young, is so important.
  • Try introducing one new food a week. Make a game out of it with your kids – have them make suggestions of what new food they would like to try and each week try out one from the list.
  • When you do introduce new foods, present it like a fun experiment, not something that MUST be eaten. Demands of children are often met with obstinance, while the option to try one or two bites being encouraged is often more inviting.

Have a game plan

Group Of Friends Enjoying Evening Meal In Restaurant

  • If you’re joining friends at a restaurant, look at the menu online beforehand. You can check out your options ahead of time and decide what you will order there. Or maybe you decide that you will eat a meal at home prior to meeting up with friends and just opt for an appetizer. While food is important in our culture, so is simply spending time with good friends and family. Focus on the social experience you are having and not on what you might perceive you are missing out on.
  • It’s okay to eat before going to other social gatherings if you are not sure exactly what will be available for you to eat or simply because you want to be full in order to resist temptation.
  • You can still join the work gang for happy hour and just order sparkling water with lime.
  • Potlucks are a great way to eat with a group of friends but still have some control over what you eat. You have the control to bring a dish to share that you can eat and introduce something new to your friends.

Be prepared for people to question your choices

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  • Be strong. People within your circles, be it family, friends, or work colleagues, will question what and why you are doing what you are doing.
  • Have a short answer ready. You don’t have to get into a philosophical debate at that moment. A simple “I don’t really feel like drinking/having dessert/etc.” should hopefully suffice. People sometimes are critical of issues regarding health because it makes them self-conscious in some way of their own behaviors/habits/issues and can read a positive change in another’s behavior as a personal attack on their own, whether this is done consciously or not.
  • Be open. There will come a time when people are genuinely curious and interested in your “why” and how to do what you’re doing. This is the time to share with them the details.

Keep on your journey to great health! Focus on what you are gaining (confidence, more energy, clearer brain functioning) and appropriately losing (weight, joint pain, lethargy). As others see your improvements, they will hopefully be encouraged on their own journey.

 

Body image and Self-talk

Summer is here, ladies!!

Let’s hang out at the pool!!

Grab your swimsuit and meet at my place!!

Wait —

What?

I need to be seen in public in my swimsuit?!

I am so not ready for this!!

I meant to work on my beach body this past winter and spring.

But you know….

Tacos, cookies, and cakes, oh my!!!

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It’s that time of year again. Maybe you are ready to go and feel super confident in your body. And that is amazing! You should be! But if you are like me and most women, we feel very self conscious and super exposed when it comes to parading around in a swimsuit, especially in front of other people.

When I am with friends, I don’t mind – I know what they think about me and am super comfortable with them. But when I am around strangers, no matter what the setting is – public speaking, walking, at the pool – I DON’T know what they think of me and my self-consciousness skyrockets.

Our culture celebrates the thin body as the ultimate ideal. We are bombarded by visual images on the covers of magazines, television shows, that perfect Instagrammer you follow, Pinterest…

But, if we could just reframe our focus and celebrate our bodies…

We have been created by our Divine Father. The human body is a marvel. It’s complexity is truly unfathomable.

Maybe you have stretch marks. Your body created and birthed another human being!! Celebrate that!

Maybe you are carrying more weight than you’d like right now because you have been working too much. You are contributing to society and helping out others, doing an important job. Celebrate that!

Maybe you have more wrinkles than you’d prefer. You’ve led a long life and experienced things! Celebrate that!

Maybe you have an illness that has prevented you from being at your ideal weight. Your body is working hard for you. Pamper it!

Very few women will probably ever be completely satisfied with how their bodies look. I see the areas that I hate when I look in the mirror. So I have to remind myself that my body is beautiful the way it is. I am almost 40 (!!!!!!) and realistically, my body will look very different from the way a 20-year-old’s will look.

But, then I think what my body has done for me. I have been blessed to have had a healthy life and switching to a primal lifestyle about 2 years ago now, I will be much healthier for the rest of it. This body I have has helped me to try and make this world a better place through my time as a special ed teacher and now as a health coach. This body helps to teach my girls how to be healthy. This body can do so much more in terms of working out than I ever thought I could do.

I should celebrate it and be grateful for it. Everyday. And enjoy the time I have while I am “young”. Because someday I will be too old to go enjoy an afternoon by the pool. I don’t want to regret little things like that.

I have two girls, 12 and 10. How I act and talk about my body, especially in front of them, is CRITICAL to how they will form their own body image.

We should not be ashamed of our bodies. We should celebrate them! Now, this is not to say that we shouldn’t take care of them. We absolutely should! We need to do the best we can to honor our bodies and take care of them in the best way we can. But while we are on that journey we shouldn’t hide away.

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Buddha said “What we think, we become.” (I found that online – who knows if he actually said that. Regardless, it’s a good quote.) If we are constantly talking crap to ourselves, we will manifest it and exude that vibe. It can slowly take over our whole mindset, like a cancer, infecting our whole being.

The converse is true. If we start by focusing on what we DO like about our bodies, that positive body image will take over and will spread to other parts and we will learn to see the beauty there as well.

Beautiful young woman checking her face in a mirror.

Spend some time looking in the mirror and looking at yourself closely. Again, your body might not look the way you want. But look closer – there are some amazing parts.

Your feet take you to work everyday to provide for your family. They are beautiful.

Your hands make food for your family. They are beautiful.

(Insert body part) does something amazing for yourself, your family, or others. It is beautiful.

We all know people who give off positive self-confidence vibes and those who give off negative ones and who we would rather be around. Aim for that positivity in your own life.

A great exercise is to sit down and actually write out a couple of things that you love about your body. Post it somewhere that you can see everyday, such as on your bathroom mirror. Be grateful everyday for the body you have and celebrate it.

You only get one.