You’ve made the decision to eat healthier for the benefit of you and your family’s well being and future. Good for you.
However, don’t be alarmed if everyone in the family doesn’t jump on board the wellness train with you right away. You may be faced with the challenge of enforcing healthy eating without creating resentment by snatching fruits snacks from your kiddos hands mid-bite and snapping at your spouse when he pours half a bag of sugar into his tea pitcher.
Lay down the badge, healthy-eating bully. There are better ways to encourage healthy choices without having everyone scatter and hide when you enter the kitchen unannounced.
Get Everyone Involved: When possible, make preparing meals a family event. Invite the kids into the kitchen and have them help you toss the salad, slice the veggies, or fill the water glasses. Choose an age appropriate responsibility for each child which may even be as simple as a color game for toddlers. (Ex: “What veggie is green and looks like a tree? Can you get that out of the refrigerator?”)
Educate Your Brood: The reason that you are making healthier choices is likely because you have educated yourself. Good for you. Now, your family has to do the same. No, you don’t have to break out the encyclopedia or science text books. Find simple ways to inform them of the benefits of healthy eating. If your son plays soccer, find an article from a renowned soccer player that discusses healthy eating and activity and share it. If your toddler likes cartoons, there are great young shows produced that discuss healthy eating. When in doubt, Google it! Find a way to bridge the gap of interest between their likes and learning about wellness.
Create Habits: Changing a routine is always tough in the beginning. If you have ever moved a baby into its crib, taught a kid to ride a bike, or anything of the sort, you know exactly what I’m talking about. While there may be gripes over switching out juice for water at dinner in the beginning, keep enforcing the rule and soon the grumbles will simmer. Don’t give up. Creating habits take time.
Find Favorites: Don’t make everyone in the family give up their favorite things. Find alternatives. If your kids are crazy about those pre-packaged fruit snacks, then together look for a homemade fruit snack recipe and discuss why this is better for their growing body. Then, refer to #1 and make it together!
Set an Example: You have heard of practice what you preach. Well, that couldn’t be more true when it comes to healthy living. Your children and spouse notice what you do, so sometimes you can speak volumes without uttering a word. Pre-package your healthy snacks, fill up that water bottle, and take those kiddos on a run with you. The more they see you involved in healthy habits, the more these cues will soon become their own habits.
To sum it up, don’t harp on little setbacks. The more you try and force your habits with an iron fist, the more resistance you may encounter. Make simple subtle changes that involve everyone one at a time, and before you know it, healthy living will become a family affair!