I have many conversations with people about overall wellness, and this comes up more than you'd think. I know that a healthy diet can be challenging to introduce. It takes more time to think through your grocery list and sort through healthy recipes than it does to buy prepared, processed foods. Plus, it's not always as delicious as french fries are. It's already hard, so it can be doubly frustrating if your loved ones (spouse, kids, roommate) aren't thrilled about it. If that strikes a nerve with you, hopefully you'll find some inspiration here to help you make it more fun and appealing to them.
No matter the reason you may be trying to get someone in your life to eat healthier, take heart. You have good intentions. If you're cleaning up your own diet, that's a huge victory in itself. Everyone is on their own journey and sometimes others just aren't ready for a change like that. I can speak from experience. I used to be a very picky eater, and not a very healthy one. To make a lifestyle change, one has to finally realize that they want to make that change. If you think back on your life, you'll probably recognize that somewhere along the way, too. Maybe you talked about doing something for months or years, but never could quite put in the focus to do it. The same thing is true here. Someone has to realize the reason they would even want to change a habit to actually put in the effort to do it.
Keep doing your healthy thing, and be patient with them. They'll either eventually join you, or they won't, but don't let them sabotage your healthy habits. In the meantime, here are a few tips to encourage healthier eating for the loved ones you care about.
• Let them have a say in the menu. You simply can't expect someone to get excited over a food they just don't like. Let them have input by voicing things they like and don't like. If this is children we're talking about, include them by letting them help you shop, prepare the meal and serve the meal.
• Make it an adventure. Choose one new food or vegetable a week to use in a recipe. Don't even say it's healthy. Sometimes the word "healthy" immediately turns off a picky eater. Just make it an event. If they still don't like it at suppertime, laugh about it. Don't put the pressure on them to always have to like it. Sometimes just trying new things can start some momentum.
• If you do most of the grocery shopping, try to stock your pantry with healthier snacks.
• Pick one small change (or improvement) at at time. If you preach about drinking more water, less soda, more veggies, less sugar, less fast food, and less red meat all at once, don't be surprised if your loved one has zero interest in joining you. Don't pile on everything at once. Choose one at a time. For example, make it a goal to drink more water every day. Start small to get some victories right off the bat. Again, small victories lead to momentum.
• Whatever you do, DON'T nag and pressure them. This will only annoy them, make them defensive, and push them further away from the suggestions you offered. That is a sure way to create tension.
• Lead by example. Offer healthy options and eat healthy options yourself. Remark on how much better you feel after a healthy meal than after a junky meal.
• Find ways to encourage them when they seem to be even slightly on board. Really think of some genuine compliments you can give them. Comment with encouragement if you notice they have more energy, or need less Tums. :) Of course if they are trying to lose weight, let them know if their clothes are fitting better and if they're lookin' good! But don't put too much emphasis on looks alone. Try to make it more about health to encourage a healthy lifestyle rather than just losing weight for looks. Many times dieting for looks alone can backfire when a set back happens and can cause people to lose motivation.
• Have room in your healthy diet for favorite treats every now and then. Or find healthier options for your treats. Make sure life is still delicious.
Please, please, please just keep in mind that healthy eating doesn't have to consist of boiled brussels sprouts. In fact, it can be pretty darn delicious (see those tacos below?!? Yes! Tacos with fresh ingredients can be healthy!). Keep trying new foods and recipes until you find some things you and your loved ones WANT to eat. Enjoy your food and your time together at the dinner table.
Love & Light.
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Hi, I'm Blake. I love adventure, cooking, costume parties, wine, yoga, and reading...in that order. Follow my blog for yoga stuff, fitness tips, & healthy recipes...
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