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

Family With Baby Meeting Financial Advisor At Home

  • 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.

 

Things I wish I could tell my 21-year old self

Hindsight is 20-20. How I wish I had a time-turner (or a time machine, for you muggles) so that I could travel back to my 21-year-old self and sit down over a drink and lay some truths down. But then again, at 21 years old, one generally feels like he/she already knows everything.

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This past year, 2017, has been a really good one in my life. I feel like all of the puzzles pieces have fallen into place to create a more meaningful, simple life. Note: simple does NOT mean easy. I imagine the thought of my arrogance in thinking that I have life figured out probably makes God laugh, because this is truly not my life, but His. I wonder what my 60-year old self will think of this blog post.

Regardless, I have learned some really good lessons in the past decade and a half since entering the “real world”.

 

Never Say Never

Several times in my life I have been arrogant enough (hmmm…) to dare to tell God that I will never do something. Not long after that, every time, God has called me to do that very thing.

I said I would never move away from Cleveland, where I grew up and my family and friends pretty much all lived. When I was 28, I felt that God was calling me to move down to Texas. For four years when my best friend, who did live in San Antonio, would ask me every month when I was moving, “I’m not” was my standard reply. Then one morning I woke up and was like, “I think I’ll move to Texas!” Six months later, I was making the drive with my car jam packed with my belongings.

In college, I said I could never be a teacher. Then God called me to be a special ed teacher in San Antonio and I taught for nine years. I did love the work.

A few years ago, in my women’s Bible study, I vividly remember stating that God did not care what we ate, that there was no Biblical place for that idea.  Fast forward to January 2017 when I started following the Primal diet because I believe so deeply that God does care and that it does make a huge difference what we eat.

There are a few of other instances. It’s just funny how God changes our minds. And in every single instance, following through on what I said I would never do, has so greatly improved my life.

 

Your parents were right!

I remember in the mid-90s, my mom talked about the evils of refined sugar, white flour, and carbs. I would roll my eyes and try to ignore her. Yeah. See above.

 

Frustrated Mom

 

My parents tried to get me to budget my money and my mom would recommend Dave Ramsey’s books to me. I thought that because I worked in a bank and talked to people all day long with tons of credit card debt that I would be impervious to that pitfall. Cue a move across country and a very active, single lifestyle (trips, shopping, eating out) and usher in lots of credit card debt. Thankfully, when my husband and I first started dating, he was listening to Dave Ramsey and I finally did as well. We ended up both getting out of credit card debt and now know how to manage our finances.

Again, there are more examples, but those two are the most important issues on which I would tell my younger self.

 

Exercise and Eat Right

This may sound obvious. I wish I would have been more active when I was younger but I am so glad that I found my group, Camp Gladiator, when I did a few years ago.

My viewpoint on nutrition has changed so completely that I left my teaching career to focus on coaching others to value their own nutrition. What we eat has such a huge impact on our bodies. Duh, I know, but when I was getting my Primal Health Certification, it just struck me as truly amazing how our bodily systems all work in conjunction together. I was CONVINCED at one point, pre-Primal, that I had diabetes and a bunch of other ailments (slight hypochondriatic tendencies). Since eliminating grains, added sugar, and dairy from my diet, I no longer think I am coming down with anything. I feel so much better when I eat REAL food; I should have started this a decade ago.

 

Don’t Buy All the Things

This is part of what got me into all the credit card debt in the first place. I thought that buying THINGS would fill some void inside of me. And it would for a short time until I needed another fix. My “drug” of choice was clothing. It was truly disgusting how many articles of clothing I had. 90% of it didn’t fit or was outdated because I never got rid of anything.

 

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Over the past few years, I started getting rid of things – the benefit of getting married and combining two households into one. I found The Minimalists this spring and their podcast and documentary has added sooooo much value to my life! (A link to their page is on my Resources page.) Getting rid of all the crap, the clutter, the tchotchkes, the things that I never use, has made my life so much simpler!

 

Add Value to the World

 

I graduated college with a dual major in International Business & Economics and Japanese. I wasn’t sure what I would do but I wanted to be a “businesswoman”. I liked to travel and loved learning other languages and, as there was no other strong job calling, it seemed to make sense.

I was fortunate enough to get hired with a major bank a few months prior to graduating. After 5 years of doing a job that I thought trained monkey could do, I left. I had a strong desire to do something that actually made an impact on the world. This was when I felt called to move to Texas and be a special ed teacher.

A couple of years ago, I took three different personality tests to try and find the “perfect job” for me. No joke, each one told me “elementary teacher/special ed teacher”. I really wish I had taken this tests earlier. I have the “provider guardian” personality.

 

“Providers are observant, cooperative, informative, and expressive. They are greatly concerned with the health and welfare of those under their care and they are the nurturers of established social institutions such as businesses, churches, social clubs, and schools.”
  • Wikipedia, “Provider (role variant)” article

 

While I wish I would have learned this at the start of my adult life, I think of all the valuable lessons and experiences I have had along the way. Those lessons and experiences have made me who I am today. And I am at a point where I truly love myself.

 

These are just a few things that I am trying to teach to my kids now, while they are still young, to instill good habits. Some of it is taking hold and some, well, they are just kids.

Oh, and God, I am NEVER going to Tahiti!!!!