There are always excuses for me to give up. Daily it seems there are roadblocks, detours, etc. But I know that a healthy lifestyle is the right thing for me and my family. Ultimately I have to figure out a way around these obstacles. In the past I would quit way too easily, but patience and adaptability have become my friends. There are ways to compromise and slowly (but surely) get your entire family on board with a healthier way of life.
Here are some suggestions:
Don't be unreasonable--Just because the light has come on for you doesn't mean it has for everyone else in your family. They may not be ready to make the change yet. Nagging and scolding someone about their lifestyle and eating habits (ones that until very recently you SHARED) will likely have an adverse affect. Focus on you, not them.
Ask for help-- Have a heart-to-heart with the ones who don't seem to understand what you are doing. Share your goals. Let them know that you are serious and explain how important a strong support system is for your success. Together, make a list of a few specific things that the other person/people can do to help you along your journey. A little communication will go a long way.
Stay Committed--Make sure you are in this 100%. Once others realize that you are serious and fully committed to this (not just another one of your diets) they will be more likely to support you in any way that they can. Your example will also be the best way to encourage others toward a healthier lifestyle. Actions speak louder than words--so make sure you are giving it your all.
Research Substitutes--Look for new and creative ways to cook foods that your family loves! Some easy and hardly noticeable changes to make are:
- Skim milk instead of 2% or Whole
- Whole wheat bread instead of white/enriched breads (look at first ingredient)
- Whole wheat pasta instead of regular
- Fresh veggies instead of canned
- Extra lean ground beef instead of higher fat ground beef
- 2%(or lower) cheeses instead of regular
- Parkay butter spray instead of regular butter
- Natural peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter
- baked proteins instead of fried
- fruit canned in natural juice instead of heavy syrup
Also try substituting healthier ingredients in the recipes that your family loves. You don't have to go buy a new cookbook. (Although you certainly could!) Just find a couple of ingredients in your prized recipe to sub with a healthier option.
Offer options/variety--Remember that this is not a lifestyle that can be adopted by all, overnight. You may need to accommodate other family members by preparing some of their old-favorites from time to time and (GASP)--refrain from eating them! You can also experiment with making a "base meal" and offering several different sides, sauces, etc. For example: My family likes pasta with chicken and Alfredo sauce. We prepare the chicken and whole wheat pasta separately. For the husband and kids we add a jar of Alfredo sauce. To my pasta and chicken I add some prepared frozen vegetables and a tsp. of pesto. This is hardly any extra prep for me and everyone is happy! Of course the Alfredo sauce is not the healthiest, they are still getting the whole grains and a lean protein.
Make it fun--The way a healthy diet is introduced to your family is up to you. If you come across negatively or unhappy about the foods you are eating, how can you expect everyone else to be on board? Find ways to make this change fun. Put a positive spin on it:
- Let the whole family participate in making your meals.
- Look through magazines/online for healthy recipes with your family.
- Make it look "fancy"--presentation is everything!
- Offer healthy snacks throughout the day in fun ways--specials containers, in a fun place, etc.
- Try new things as a family!
- Make family dinner a fun time--more about the relationships, less about the food
Don't feel sorry for yourself--I think this is the most important thing. A healthy way of eating is not a punishment. Don't allow negative self talk. Don't focus on what you can't have. Don't let others talk you back into unhealthy habits. When you see others eating unhealthy things that you used to enjoy, just take a minute to be thankful that you are changing. You are doing the very best thing for yourself by taking steps toward a healthier you. That is something to celebrate--not pout about.