One of my readers recently told me what a challenge it is for her to eat well when the other members of her family simply aren’t interested.
Do you find this difficult in your home?
Perhaps you feel like the biggest problem you face isn’t necessarily your own lifestyle changes, but rather the fact that the people around you refuse to go along with the idea.
So, today I thought it would be useful to mention a few tips and tricks to help you stay on track even when your own family won’t help you…
1. Make healthy snacks accessible
We all know how easy it is to reach for the chocolate chip cookies, rather than taking time to prepare a healthy snack when hungry.
So, if you want to help your family members eat healthy, make sure you keep a supply of healthy, ready-to-eat foods in your home.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Make up a large bowl of fruit salad with oranges, kiwi, grapes, mango, apples, strawberries, raspberries, or any combination you prefer.
- Try freezing bananas, grapes or berries for a different twist to the normal snack.
- Serve up fresh fruit smoothies for breakfast.
- Ensure that your fruit bowl is always stocked with fresh delicious looking fruit.
- Experiment with a variety of raw veg such as carrots, corn, fresh cherry tomatoes, and red peppers served with low fat dips, or even peanut butter.
- Liven up your salads: blanch broccoli, green beans, or snow peas in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then plunge them into cold water; drain and toss with a little extra virgin olive oil, a spoonful of balsamic vinegar, and some toasted sesame seeds.
- Try different cooking methods such as steaming, grilling, BBQ, or roasting as the method of cooking will alter the taste, and may make veggies more acceptable.
- Puree vegetables, or chop or grate them finely to disguise in baked goods, curries, stews, sauces etc.
- Spice up breakfast by adding cinnamon, chopped apples, raisins, and flax seeds to oatmeal for a completely different meal.
- Experiment with whole barley in casseroles and curries.
- Try using brown or wild rice instead of white.
- Try adding peas, beans and lentils to soups, stews, and curries.
- Serve lean meats (turkey, chicken, beef) and fish regularly (salmon, mackerel, tuna).
- Try marinating lean meat, fish or chicken in honey, olive oil, then make kebabs with red and green peppers, onions, mushrooms, sweet potato, and grill or BBQ.
- Top natural yogurt with fresh fruit, and a little honey drizzled on top.
- Provide snacks of mixed, unsalted nuts.
If you’re the one who does all the food shopping, you have the power to bring only healthy food into your home.
And, if family members want to eat unhealthy food, perhaps you can simply leave it up to them to purchase for themselves.
This may also help you to avoid eating unhealthy food – perhaps you won’t feel you can so easily eat something that belongs to someone else.
If your family can’t go without potato chips for example, stock a healthier alternative, or swap them for peanuts, hummus and whole wheat pitta, or plain popcorn.
If they have a sweet tooth, offer 100% fruit ice pops rather than store-bought cookies and cakes.
Or, perhaps your family particularly enjoy fried chicken from the takeaway – a better solution would be to make your own version at home.
This may not be the ideal scenario, but it’s a bit better than what they normally eat.
2. Bargain with them
If your family are particularly resist to changing their eating habits, and you’re the main cook at home, it can be very difficult.
Let’s face it, no-one wants to have to cook different meals for everyone.
So, initially why not try bargaining with them?
Can you encourage them to eat at least one healthy, home-cooked meal each day (then make sure you pack it with heaps of good food)?
At all other meals, leave it completely up to them what they choose to eat – and don’t nag!
Again, I know this isn’t ideal, but if you can get your family to eat at least one good meal per day, it’s a start.
Once that’s established, you may be able to gradually introduce other healthy foods.
What if they continue refusing to eat healthy?
If your family simply won’t touch the healthy food you place in front of them, you may just have to resign yourself to the fact that you need to look after your health regardless of what others are doing.
If you find it’s difficult to eat well when they are scoffing down burgers and chips, here are a few suggestions…
1. Remind yourself why you want to eat healthy
Whether it’s to help you lose weight or prevent disease, make sure you have this firmly fixed in the forefront of your mind.
This will help you to remain steadfast when those around you are eating unhealthy food.
So, when your family are drooling over a cheeseburger, remind yourself of what it contains and what that will ultimately do to your body, then choose to eat well for your long-term health instead.
2. Lead by example
It’s also good to remember that even though your family aren’t supportive now, with time they may begin to see the vast improvements you’ve made with your health, and they may even start to think twice about what they’ve been doing to their bodies.
This is also why it’s important that you don’t turn into the ” diet police” – that is a sure-fire way to put your family off eating well for life!
Remember, it’s their choice how they look after their health – you can lead, but you shouldn’t prod – your state of mind and improved health will speak louder than anything you could ever say anyway.
Do you struggle to eat well at home? Have you been able to overcome this problem? I’d love to hear your stories!