Congratulations, you've decided to start eating healthy and you you want to encourage your family to do the same. This can be hard if they are not as gung ho about changing their eating habits as you are.
It can be especially hard when your spouse is not on board. They are not interested in changing up their diet so they continue to bring snacks into the house and turn up their noses at new recipes you want to try.
I get it. I love how I feel when I am eating healthy and I want my kids to start their lives eating healthy so that they don’t have all these food issues and struggles when they grow up. But my husband is not quite on board.
He wants to be healthier in theory, but he doesn’t have a big enough why yet to make major changes in his eating habits.
The following 5 tips will help your family get into the healthy eating spirit even if you don’t have 100% buy in from your kids and spouse.
1. Slowly Eliminate the Junk Food in the House
When you decide to start eating healthy and start tossing out everything your family is used to eating, they can feel attacked. For kids, it can also feel like they are being punished. They can wonder what they did to no longer be allowed to eat their favorite treat.
Instead I like to slowly eliminate the junk food that finds its way into the house. As things run out, just don't re-buy them and choose healthier options. When the white bread runs out replace it with a whole grain bread or ezekiel bread.
In truth, this is a lot easier with the kids than with your spouse. Your spouse may not be ready to give up their peanut butter cups or cookies.
Explain to them that you are trying to eat better so that you can feel energized and be healthy. Tell them that having these snacks around are too tempting. Give them one cabinet to store their treats. I like giving them the top shelf of a cabinet. Since I'm short and my spouse is taller, he can easily reach it whereas I can't, therefore I'm not tempted.
Ask that they not eat these treats in front of the kids so that you can together encourage healthy eating habits.
2. Lead by Example
While it is super tempting to become very preachy when starting a new, healthy eating plan, we need to try as much as possible to avoid that behavior.
We don't want to make our family members feel bad about themselves and the way they are eating. Instead start eating healthy yourself and when occasions arise, talk about why you are doing so.
So for example if your 2 year old sees you eating an apple and asks you about it, tell them why you chose that food. You can tell them that you were hungry and you chose an apple because it tastes good and makes you feel light and healthy all at the same time. Plus apples are good for your skin, your bones and your brain.
Your kids want to be like you. So while at first they may keep asking for cookies and treats, they are still observing your behaviors and eating habits. If you were eating unhealthily before and it made you tired and unhappy, they will notice how eating healthy changes your energy and happiness.
Eventually they may ask to try what you are eating or ask about the changes they see in you. Use these opportunities to explain how wholesome food can help your body and mind be their best.
3. Concentrate on the Meal You Eat Together
For most families, the meal that they eat together is dinner. That is the case in our household, so we focus on that. If the family meal is something else in your house, then that's where you should focus.
Since our family meal is dinner, when I am choosing what to make for dinner, I make a conscious effort to make sure that dinner is a healthy meal.
I also consider what my family likes. For example, while mushrooms are healthy, my husband doesn't like them. So what is the point of making a healthy meal with mushrooms if your spouse won't eat them. While your family members may not like all healthy foods, everyone has healthy foods that they do like.
Focus on the healthy ingredients that your family loves and make meals around those items. My family loves chicken and eggs, grass fed beef and broccoli, carrots and green beans, etc.. So I focus on making dinners that contain those healthy foods that we all like.
In this way you can ensure that everyone is eating at least 1 healthy meal a day and you can work your way up from there.
4. Make an Eating Schedule
If you give your kids chips as a snack when they come home from school at 4, is it any wonder that they don't want to eat their carrots for dinner at 5:30?
Having a set eating schedule eliminates snacking except at a set snack time and encourages our kids to eat at meals. It's OK for our kids (and ourselves) to be hungry for a little while. Nothing terrible will happen.
Waiting for a meal teaches our kids patience and about delayed gratification. When they know there is a set schedule, they won't have to wonder when they will eat again. They won't need to snack all day because they know there are times when they are going to eat.
The only times when they may need additional snacks is if they are doing activities which require extreme exertion. But again, if it is to close to meal time, it's better to have them just wait until the meal.
Give them something to do to occupy their mind so they aren't focused on being hungry and they will make it to the next healthy meal.
5. Encourage Your Kids to Explore Their Foods
Kids love learning, exploring and experimenting. Let them do this with their food.
Have your kids help you prepare meals. Give them a magnifying glass and let them study the foods they are eating. Let them help you mix and chop depending on their age.
The more kids are able to participate in and interact with their food, the more likely they are to consume it.
Treat trying new food like an experiment. Study the outside; what does it look like, what does it feel like? Ask your kids what they think it will taste like. Let everyone taste the food to see if they are right.
Your kids aren't going to like everything and it's OK if they don't. But, by exploring different foods, you can help them discover more and more things that they do like.
I hope that you find these tips helpful for introducing healthy eating to your family in a fun, happy and exciting way instead of a sad, punishing, depriving way. If you click the graphic about you can get a printable with all these tips plus a few more to help you get your family eating healthier.
The best part about it is that these tips apply regardless of the healthy eating plan you subscribe to. It works whether you are keto or paleo, whether you follow the SANE eating plan or the 131 Method which of course is my preferred eating style. To learn more about why I love the 131 Method just click here.
Looking for even more guidance on changing your family’s eating habits? Let me know by sending a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I have even more tips and resources to help your family live healthy and fend off disease. I’d love to share them with you if I know you are interested!