“My husband thinks this is a short term fix, a gimmick!…”

I hear this from clients all the time! Whether you are dieting, using a new weight loss/get healthy system, or trying a new nutritional routine, getting support from your husband, children, and extended family is like herding sheep. They both resist and question YOUR actions. Truly following your lead is like asking the sheep to follow you off the cliff. There’s just no chance in ((bleep)) when they love pizza, soda, chips, and all things sweet.

It’s challenging to know where to begin when you both want to improve your own health and also those surrounding you. Let’s face it, finding the time and energy to work on yourself is hard enough, and when you are surrounded by a spouse and children who are eating less than healthy foods, health becomes even more challenging.

I found myself in those same shoes years ago. With hip pain, fatigue, too much Diet Coke, and slower running paces, I recognized it was time for nutritional changes, but I didn’t have overt food or weight issues to accompany. You can imagine how the whole family thought I’d lost my marbles when I announced it was time for a detox program. Since weight is most individuals’ standard for measuring health, my wanting “better health” was totally mind boggling.

Shortly put, I was a marathon runner and pacer, who generally speaking already showed all the signs of a healthy person. My weight was in check, and I ate a fairly normal, low-fat, low sugar diet. So, what in the world might a Reboot program do for me? I recall my husband proclaiming this was a “fad diet to take my money!”

Zoom ahead years later, and I have a supportive husband who both eats cleaner, supplements his daily diet with Organic Superfoods nutrition, and even promotes this lifestyle. He’s a “card carrying” health nut, but one who still eats food disguised as healthy (cereal), drinks Starbucks (daily!), and eats all kinds of things I wouldn’t dream of consuming (bacon, burgers, etc..). And, that’s a critical point when considering the health of your family.

Health has different speeds, and we all arrive at the onset at a different time and with varying levels of compromise.

Food choices are very emotional. I heard a friend, Peggy, comment last night that eating is the only “acceptable sin.” It’s true. We eat unconsciously to feed our emotions – usually a lack of pleasure and love in our lives, and so food actually becomes a part of our identity. The fact that Diet Coke puts names on their soda bottles and cans is proof positive that YOU ARE YOUR FOOD!

Changes can be a challenge to our very EGO state!

It’s especially true of the male gender. Men ARE different with their diets…

Generally speaking, men and women fall into two very different camps when it comes to nutrition and dieting. Men prefer a clear rule book of eat this, but not that, they prefer to stay private in their efforts, and men like to “get in shape” rather than “lose weight.” What’s more, meat and potatoes are more manly choices, so the idea of moving to a plant-based diet can often question their very manliness!!! YIKES! Are you beginning to see why seeking a healthier lifestyle might be challenging for our spouses in particular?

How do you make the leap to converting both spouse and children to a plant-based, healthy lifestyle? Simply put, you engage the same strategies that you’d maneuvered for yourself…. SMALL, CONSISTENT STEPS!

When YOU get healthy, your family unintentionally does too! It’s a safety in numbers thing. Less than healthy food choices rule the day in most homes, because it populates the pantry and permeates the culture of your home!  When you grab the double mocha, chocolate chip fudge ice cream, guess who takes your lead and follows suit?….YOUR WHOLE FAMILY, that’s WHO? You are the leader! And the reverse is also true. When you create a kitchen full of healthy choices, prepare easy and flavorful plant-based meals, and create a culture of eating better, your family will follow you…I promise!

5 STEPS TO HELPING YOUR FAMILY EAT BETTER

  1. STAY POSITIVE. Complaining doesn’t encourage changes! When you embrace your personal health journey, your family is much more likely to become interested and join you. 
  2. FOCUS ON HOW GREAT GOOD NUTRITION MAKES YOU FEEL. Recall, men and children seek wellness, not necessarily weight loss! Note how you feel, how you sleep, and how your energy increases rather than jumping on the weight loss train; losing pounds is just a great side effect!
  3. LEAD/MODEL, DON’T PREACH. Actions speak louder than words! Serve flavorful meals. Pack healthy snacks. Drink water…Your family will take notice!
  4. INTRODUCE 2-3 NEW, CLEAN WEEKLY MEALS. Keep family favorites around…there’s security in familiarity! Meanwhile, use my healthy, plant-based meal plans to add 2-3 new, flavorful meals each week, and be smart not to announce the meal and its healthfulness. (see #3)
  5. STOCK YOUR KITCHEN WITH CLEAN, HEALTHY SNACKS. Nutrient dense, grab and go options make snacking a healthy option! Slowly decrease the non-whole food options! We eat what is presented.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE YOUR INFLUENCE AS THE LEADER OF YOUR FAMILY! Stay the course with your own healthy lifestyle, and your family will FOLLOW YOU!