Oooo-wee, this post has been a LONG time coming. If I had a dollar for every email or DM saying things like, “But my husband won’t touch anything with kale!” or “Uh-huh, well MY family refuses to eat that kind of stuff” I could buy like, 7 Pelotons.
I hear you, friend. And I know the struggle can be REAL. So, let’s talk about it.
Because right now, this might be feeling more urgent than ever, with your family home with you at all times.
It MIGHT even feel like a proverbial line in the sand. A stand-off, some nights: with you on one side, wanting to choose real, whole, healthy choices, and your hubby, partner, kids, etc. on the other side saying: noooo thank you.
Let me first just say: you are doing an amazing thing by caring about this in the first place. I see you, over there. You are probably like me, the “Food CEO” of the house. The one that cares. The one that wants to eat and be healthier, yourself, but that it’s hard to do if you’re the ONLY one that cares. You’re the one that wants everyone to feel their best, to have healthy bodies and minds and to grow up with a healthy relationship to food too.
So, before we get into some real tips to make this easier on yourself, I just wanna say: take this topic one day at a time. And to know that change– the real kind from our depths– doesn’t happen overnight. It has to be a change that happens slowly, even though I know it would be so much more convenient for a switch to flip.
And second, a reminder of something I’m sure you already know:
That just because YOU are on a journey to elevate your food choices and lifestyle doesn’t mean everyone in your life is automatically on board.
In fact, they might feel a little insecure or nervous by your choice to upgrade your habits. Especially kids. Kids love routine, predictability and for everything to be the same, always. It’s comforting to them. No one— no matter your age– likes to be pushed into something that they don’t feel like is their choice.
But that’s also the reason that NOW is the time to start to help them understand more about food, so they don’t grow up into picky adults that only like a limited amount of things.
And for the adults in your house? Well, sometimes they’re stuck still thinking like they’re still kids. So, either way, it’s a great thing to (gently) be able to free them a little bit more, and have a more open mind. With food, and with life too, because they’re usually connected.
So, today I’m breaking it down, real talk-style, aka the only way I know how. With some ACTUAL things you can do right now to help move this process along, in a sustainable and non-pushy way.
How to Encourage Your Loved Ones to Embrace Healthy Eating
1. Don’t preach or nag or be a food pusher.
K I know (like, I knoowww) it’s tempting to say to your hubs: You’re really gonna get the double cheeseburger and fries?
Or: You sure you want that second beer?
But really and truly, is that helping anyone here?
Pointing out someone else’s flaws fixes them 0% of the time. It actually just makes them feel WORSE. And more resentful toward your choices.
So hush. Zip it, honey. Because preaching and nagging is only going to drive a little wedge between you and those you love.
So what you can do?
BE the example first… silently.
That’s step one.
Do your own thing. And be proud of it. But DO NOT push it on others.
Let your healthy choices speak for itself. Let them ASK first, “What are you making, babe/mom?”
When THEY are the ones to open the convo, it gives you an opportunity to share without forcing. The thing you’re making, the why behind it, the reason it feels good for your body/digestion/energy etc.
Keep showing up, doing your thing, & staying the course that feels good to you.
THIS is the most powerful influence, showing others how good it feels by being the example of how good it feels.
2. Teach them to read labels and make it a game.
If you have littles, this can be especially powerful.
Are your kids reading level? Start asking them if they’ve heard of everything on ingredient lists.
If they’re younger, read the labels out loud and ask them to do something silly like poke their nose every time there’s a word they’ve never heard of.
Food becomes not “good” or “bad” but a game to see how “simple” or “not simple” it is.
Ask your partner to do a quick label scan next time they’re doing the grocery run and to try to pick the option with the least and simplest ingredients.
(If you don’t know what to look for or avoid in ingredient lists, taking the Food Academy is such a great tool to learn!)
3. Make recipes you know they like.
But just upgrade them to real food.
So simple. So effective. Everyone can do this.
Example? Pasta = brown rice pasta, real parm cheese, grass fed meatballs or grass fed ground beef bolognese sauce.
Nachos = real grass fed cheddar cheese, grass fed meat, jalapeños, organic corn chips, salsa, guac.
Show that just because it’s REAL doesn’t mean it’s BORING.
So many people have this idea that “healthy” eating means kale, broccoli, and chicken breast, all day, every day.
I do love those things (and we eat them on the reg) but it’s not ALL we eat.
Healthy eating is not one dimensional.
And you can have fun with it! You have the freedom to PLAY.
Only difference is the things you can play with. They’re made of upgraded versions of the stuff that usually doesn’t leave you feeling so good.
4. The art of a toppings bar.
And it is truly an art.
Everyone being able to customize their food and experience = immediately more appealing and gives them a sense of control while exposing them to new creative combinations.
I’m lookin’ at you mamas with picky eaters on your hands, especially. THIS is a game changer. (And sanity saver.)
It makes it more like an art project. And gives everyone independence over what they’re eating.
Try a baked potato bar, taco bar, chili/soup bar, salad bar, individual pizza night, etc.
Just put a bunch of toppings/condiments/options in bowls and let your people do their own picking.
5. Clean out your pantry together.
And have fun re-stocking and finding new upgraded real food options, as a family.
Potato chips, corn chips, dried fruit, trail mixes, fruit leathers, ice cream, crackers, cereals DO exist in elevated versions.
Even candy, too.
When it’s a group effort it becomes a bonding experience and a game. How can we simplify this? How can we clean up that?
ASK for ideas from everyone. You might be surprised by the creativity and resourcefulness when your whole crew starts to chip in!