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How to start eating healthier as a family

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This is the struggle right? You’re so ready to make a change, but your family isn’t quite on board. You’re not alone. If you want your family to start eating healthier and not put up a fight, read on!

mom and daughter in kitchen eating an apple

First I want to start off by explaining what not to do. Most of the time we get so excited to start being healthy, that we jump right in. We buy all the healthy foods, eliminate all the junk, and start hitting the gym.

That enthusiasm is great, and while it may work for some, for most it’s unsustainable. Why? Because it’s just too much change all at once.

If you want to make a lifestyle change, you need to take it slow.

Make 1 small change at a time. Once you master that, add on a new healthy habit. When you master that, tack on another.

When it comes to getting your family on board, it’s no different.

How to start eating healthier as a family:

Be subtle.
– This is the most important tip I could give. If you want your family on board, you have to be subtle. That means no big announcement when you’re fed up with all the junk food. No dramatic emptying of cabinets. Nothing. Don’t say a word.

Make a list.
– Think of all the unhealthy habits your family currently has and make a list. Aim to tackle 1 or 2 every month. If you change everything all at once you will be met with resistance. Changing only 1-2 a month will be a lot easier.

Good, Better, Best.
– Now this goes along with my first tip. Basically, think of the item you want to quit, think of the healthiest replacement and then think of a replacement that falls somewhere in between those two extremes. Take baby steps & don’t switch to the super healthy option right away, instead choose the slightly better option first before transitioning to the best option. So lets use a couple examples.

Example 1: Your goal is to cut out soda. Your family currently drinks soda every day. So you ditch the soda and immediately replace it with water. Your family’s upset & there’s a ton of complaining.

Instead, of going from bad habit to best alternative, aim for a slightly better, but not best drinking option.

So in this case, I may initially replace the soda with juice or lemonade. Then two weeks later I don’t buy the lemonade so they make do with water. Before you know it, water is the go to beverage & no one remembers how dependent on soda they were.

Example 2: Your goal is to cut snacks like candies & cookies. Try replacing them with a slightly better option like granola bars. Both are pretty satisfying for those with a sweet tooth. The next transition might be to a sugar-free snack or nothing but fruit & veggies.

Introduce 1 new food a week.
– It is so tempting to buy up all the produce when you’re on a health kick, but you will end up with a lot of wasted food. Instead try 1 new veggie, etc each week. Offer it at multiple meals and don’t worry if no one loves it the first time around.

picture of my daughter unwilling to eat her lunch.

Don’t give up.
– A 2010 study said that children who tried a veggie they didn’t like 8-9 times started to like it more. So basically, it takes a while for our tastebuds to adjust.

Similarly, at the beginning of this year my go-to breakfast of choice was oatmeal. But, did you know it took me until my 6th try to stop gagging while I ate it? I didn’t even finish a whole bowl of oatmeal until attempt #15 & then I was hooked. I love oatmeal now. Give yourself & your family time.

Keep putting those veggies on their plates & encourage them to try at least 1 bite. Don’t be upset if they gag or spit it out and lead by example.

bowl of blueberries & strawberries

These are the steps I took to get our family eating better. We’re not perfect and we definitely are okay with treats in moderation, but I think we’re doing pretty great.

We rarely buy fast food, we never buy soda or juices, but we’re still working on those veggies with the 5 year old. Our 3 year old surprisingly loves salad. And the kids get just as excited over buying fruit as they used to when we mentioned candy.

Whole family health is something that requires constant effort. I hope these tips helped you. It is definitely worth the effort.