A healthy diet isn’t just about looking your best, it’s about feeling your best. Eating well provides the body with essential nutrients, energy, and can boost your immune system. A well-rounded diet has been linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and memory loss. What you eat can also affect your brain functioning and help with weight loss. There’s no doubt about it, a healthy diet is essential for living your best life.
While these logical reasons for eating healthy may appeal to you, it’s very common to face pushback from family members as you transition to a healthier diet. Don’t let this discourage you! We’ve got 12 ways to help get your family on board with healthy eating this year!
Making drastic changes may seem like a good idea, however, they often don’t last. Instead, start by making small changes, such as swapping one or two ingredients (a good example: replacing butter with olive oil) and work your way up to brand new recipes.
Focus on the Why
Often, family members are more willing to adapt their own behavior if they understand why it is important to you and to them. Keep your conversations focused around the why and try to develop a common purpose. This will increase engagement and lead to more willing participation from everyone involved!
Keep healthy foods handy
Place fruit or vegetables in clear containers in the refrigerator, right at eye level. If they are already cut-up, it’s easier to grab one for a snack. Keep fruit or other healthy snacks on the counter or island. Having a bowlful of clean and fresh fruit can be a great way to swap out a candy bar for an apple when your family is on the go!
Watch the portions
Even if you are eating healthy, overeating can lead go weight gain so all those great health benefits are lost. Find ways to control portion sizes, like plating everyone’s food at a meal, putting leftovers away quickly so family members are not tempted to have seconds, or preparing healthy snacks every few hours to curb cravings.
Make healthy versions of favorite recipes
If your family loves lasagna, look for ways to take your current recipe and make it healthier (for example, try swapping starchy pasta noodles with thin-sliced zucchini or spaghetti squash). You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; keeping some of your family favorites with some added nutritional value will help keep your family happy and excited to eat.
Model the behavior you want to see
It is scientifically proven that children mimic parental behavior. You don’t have to force them to eat healthy. If you want your kids to get on board, start by modeling the nutritional choices you want to promote.
Do it together
Instead of dragging your family behind you, get them involved. By allowing them to help pick the recipes for the week your family will be motivated and excited for mealtime each day. You can also have your family prepare meals together, so they are engaged in the process of making food and learn how to prepare healthy meals later in life.
Slowly stop buying foods you consider unhealthy to keep at home.
Family members can’t eat something that is not there. It doesn’t mean you will never eat some favorite foods, like desserts. But it’s easier for your family to learn to eat them in single portions outside of the house. Your family can slowly learn to adapt to a new lifestyle. If some unhealthy foods sneak in the house, put them away so they are not easily seen or accessible, such as on a high shelf in the pantry.
Focus on Aesthetic
I’m not talking about Instagram-worthy presentation, although that might help keep YOU motivated. Presentation matters, so taking the time to focus on presentation, whether that means hiding those vegetables in the sauce or simply keeping the plate colorful, will help get those appetites ready to dig in.
Find healthy alternatives for the sweet treats
You never want your family to feel like they are starving themselves or missing out on the simple pleasures in life. Each meal needs to be filling, but it doesn’t need to be unhealthy. Focus on healthy alternatives to desserts, like fruits, so they can relieve their cravings for something sweet in a healthy way.
Always include something they like
If you are trying out a new recipe, make sure you always include something on the plate that your family will like. If they are given a balance of new and familiar, they will be more receptive to healthy variations.
Grow your own food
Another way to eat healthy is to grow some of your own food. If you have the space, making a family garden, or even a container garden, is a great way to get your family to take pride in their food and to be excited to eat their homegrown vegetables.
To help you get started, here’s an excellent resource from the American Heart Association entitled Cooking in Color. Life is Why. Adding Color is How.
- FRESH-DOSE & ReFRESH for children ages 7-12 and a qualifying parent
- FRESH TEEN for adolescents ages 13-16 and a qualifying parent
- PACIFIC-FIT for adults ages 18-65
- CHARGE for US military veterans ages 18-65
In addition, the CHEAR Clinic offers outpatient therapy for children, adolescents, and adults. We provide services on a sliding scale and accept many insurances. CHEAR clinic also offers an intensive daily binge eating and weight loss program.
If you are interested in exploring your weight loss treatment options, or to determine your eligibility to participate in our no-cost programs, please visit chear.ucsd.edu or contact us at 855.827.3498 or firstname.lastname@example.org.