Do you want to get your family on board with healthy eating and eat healthy family meals together? Perhaps you are just ready for a new you. Maybe you found out about a health challenge and need to make some changes in your life.
You don’t want to do it alone though. It can be daunting to be the only one with a new healthy diet while your family is still enjoying their favorite processed snacks. You don’t want to be the odd one out. Besides, you want your kids and partner to be healthy too.
So how to get them on board with healthy eating? It may sound challenging at first, but I promise you, it’s easier than you think. Read on to learn more about my tips on getting your family on board with healthy eating:
What Is Healthy Eating?
Healthy eating can be hard to define. It may look different based on your age, sex, height, exercise habits, health challenges, health goals, location, culture, religion, and individual approaches. Healthy eating should be sufficient in both quality and quantity to meet your body’s needs to support health, energy, and balance.
A general guide for healthy eating is following a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory whole foods diet. Remove inflammatory foods, including refined sugar, refined oils, artificial ingredients, additives, deep-fried food, junk food, fast food, and overly processed food. Eat plenty of greens, veggies, fruits, sprouts, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, legumes, gluten-free whole grains, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, wild-caught fish and seafood, and wild game. Your diet should involve a variety of foods, not the same thing every day. A key perspective that can help keep focus on a healthy diet is to think of food as fuel, not as entertainment (although cooking can be fun!). Peak health and performance is our aim.
Depending on your health, you may have to avoid certain foods or dietary habits. For example, if you have food sensitivities or allergies, you should avoid triggering foods. If you have histamine intolerance, a low-histamine diet may be better for you. Your religious beliefs, cultural habits, and personal taste buds may also affect your specific food choices. But generally speaking, we are talking about a nutritious whole foods diet.
How to Get Your Family On Board with Healthy Eating
Perhaps the most difficult part of changing your diet is getting your entire family on board. You may be ready for a change. But your partner may not want to give up their comfort foods and your kids may love their usual snacks too much. You don’t want to do it all alone. It would mean temptations all around you. You don’t want to feel like the odd one out. And, of course, you want your entire family to feel healthy and energized too.
So how to get your family on board with healthy eating? Here are my tips:
If you want to get your family on board with healthy eating, start small. If your current diet is full of processed food and sugar, changing everything all at once may be too much. Make small changes gradually. Replace one unhealthy snack with a healthier option. Keep their favorite meals but healthify them with better ingredients.
Add New Habits Instead of Eliminating Them
Too many people make the mistake of focusing on eliminating their unhealthy foods or habits before introducing better options. Of course, if you are dealing with food allergies or a mast cell trigger, you may have to begin with removing some specific things. In general, though, starting by introducing new habits may be a better option. Start adding one healthier meal, side dish, snack, or treat at a time. Then add a new healthier choice. Over time, these new healthier options will not only become normal, but they will also crowd out unhealthy options.
Share Your Reasons
Discuss your reasons for making new choices. If you are talking to a partner, you can have an honest adult conversation with them. With children, use age-appropriate language. Don’t scare them. Get them excited. Explain to them that certain foods will give them more energy on the playground, smarter in school, and stronger in gym class. Talk to them about nutrition in an age-appropriate way without boring them with unnecessary details. Don’t talk about body weight or body image — even if your child needs to lose weight. Focus on health, energy, and how they feel, instead of how they look.
Get Everyone Involved
If you want to get your whole family on board with healthy eating, get them involved. It shouldn’t be about mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa pushing their new diet on everyone else. It should be a family challenge and a fun time together. Go grocery shopping together. Teach your kids about making healthy choices and even money-saving tips for healthy food. Learning by doing is how kids develop healthy eating habits!
Pick out the meals and do meal planning together. Teenagers and adults can pick out recipes. To younger children, you may want to present a few options, possibly with pictures. Let them get involved in the cooking process. Cook together with your partner or teens and give some small tasks to younger ones.
Make It Fun
You have to make it fun if you want to get your family on board with healthy eating. Nobody wants to feel like it’s a chore! You can make it a game of how many vegetables or fruits they can eat in a day or a week. If they can eat 5 a day, they earn a sticker. If they can do it every day for 5 days, you can do something fun together (e.g., go to the playground, pick out a new book at the library, or watch a movie together). Make cooking fun. Put on some nice music and dance together. Or use that time for conversations and connection. With adults and teens in your family, creating your own recipes can be fun too.
Give Them a Choice
There are a lot of varieties of healthy eating. So what if they don’t like asparagus? Maybe they will like broccoli instead. Let your family members — adults and children alike — make their own choices. Try and experiment with new things and let them decide what they like and what they don’t. Over time, as a family, you will figure out what works for all of you. Try not to push your specific dietary restrictions on everyone either. While eating a nutrient-dense whole foods diet is good for everyone, they may not need to follow your specific low-histamine or another specific diet if they are not dealing with the same health issues. But you can still make healthy family meals without forcing them to follow your dietary restrictions.
Make Their Favorites
You know your family’s favorites already: their favorite comfort foods, snacks, and desserts. Keep that in mind when choosing new recipes. Healthify their old favorite with higher quality and better ingredients. If they love French fries, maybe you can make some potato, or better yet, sweet potato fries or fries from veggies in your air fryer. If they love pasta, you can experiment with gluten-free pasta dishes with lots of vegetables and homemade tomato sauce. Healthify tacos and make some stir-fries. These make great healthy meals. Choose homemade almond butter or other nut butters over store-bought peanut butter with added sugar. Pick healthy snacks, such as fruits, veggies, trail mixes, and homemade goodies.
Lead by Example
Telling your family members what to do can be a turn-off. But if they see you doing something good for yourself, that may inspire them. If your partner sees that you suddenly have more energy, feel calmer and more attentive, have clearer skin, or have other health improvements, they may become interested naturally. Being a role model is a great way to get your family on board with healthy eating.
Be Patient and Let Go of Perfection
Be patient with yourself and your family. Changing and maintaining habits can be challenging for anything. Getting your family on board with healthy eating while you are still acquiring new healthy habits can be even more difficult. Be patient. Give some time for acquired tastes to become second nature, then incorporated as healthier eating habits. Communicate about your goals and desires. Discuss challenges. Be supportive of one another. Let go of perfection. And be patient. You don’t have to change everything by tomorrow. But you can certainly make a big difference within one year with consistent small habits.
Follow my tips to get your family on board with healthy eating and create healthy family-friendly meals together. If you want to learn how to improve your and your family’s diet and lifestyle, I recommend that you speak with your doctors first for more personalized health information and support. I invite you to schedule a consultation with me here to see if you can benefit from the strategies listed in this article.
If you are dealing with any chronic health issues, for advice on how to improve your nutrition and health, I welcome you to start a functional medicine consultation with me for further personalized guidance. You may book your consultation here.
Check out my Histamine Intolerance Course here. Learn on your own time, from anywhere. Get an inside look at the most helpful functional medicine tests for pinpointing imbalances, ways to identify and manage the most common (and sometimes surprising) mast cell triggers, and learn what to eat, what to avoid, and why.