Wouldn’t it be nice if we could decide to eat healthy and just do? You know, today I give up fries, or pizza, or whatever it is you over indulge in. Not only do we have to “fight” our own desires and cravings when choosing to eat healthy but many of us also have to deal with family members who may not be happy or supportive about our choices.
Tips for Eating Healthy When Your Family is Not
1. Family requires “Give and Take”
If you have a healthy family dynamic you know that no one person is always right and no one person is always wrong. Being in a healthy family requires us to work with one another and take each others needs and desires into consideration.
Rationally talk about the benefits of healthy eating, including the fact that it could save your life. They may not be convinced but they may be closer to understanding what you need to do to be healthy.
To make it work try meal planing and include healthy choices for you along with your family’s favorites.
2. Cook Some Foods in Bulk
Once a week do some bulk cooking and cook several cups of beans, grains and possibly potatoes or soups. By having these items cooked and ready you can have a hearty meal in just a few minutes. They can be mixed together to make a complete meal or served as an accompaniment to whatever your family is eating. If your family is having a Taco Night make your own using beans instead of meat. If they are grilling meat try grilling some veggies on the side and use some of the foods you’ve already cooked as the main dish.
3. Shop well
Proper preparation makes all the difference. As mentioned above, you need a meal plan. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just jot down about 5 dinner ideas. Then make a grocery list. The battle may be won or lost here. If you don’t have the right foods you will not be able to prepare healthy meals.
I recommend buying canned beans and single serving ingredients like cooked brown rice for a back up plan. They can keep you from making poor choices.
4. Adapt Recipes so Everyone Wins
Perhaps the biggest obstacle I hear is “I could NEVER give up cheese!” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that one? I have a simple fix for this. Put Cheese On The SIDE! Many dishes are completely healthy if you just take the cheese off. While I never eat cheese others in my house do occasionally.
The same can be said for many meat dishes. Veggie Pot Pie is just as good as Chicken Pot Pie, Pasta with Marinara doesn’t require meat, in fact we love it with veggies and I’ve heard my Lentil Tacos are just as good as ground beef tacos.
5. Don’t be Controlling or Controlled
This just comes down to being a decent human being. No one likes a bully. People shouldn’t be bullied because of their food choices, whether they are healthy or not.
6. Express your Needs to your Family
Your family may not understand where you are coming from and they may not support it; BUT they might. It may take some time but your family may just surprise you. If you really stick to it, they may even grow to respect your choices.
Plan a time to talk with them about why you are changing your diet and what it will look like. Try to do this calmly and not during a meal. Tell them that they don’t have to eat the way you do but you need their help to keep going. They may be willing to make small changes to make it easier for you. A few changes could be to have a salad at dinner every night, make veggie soup a few times per week, or even “build your own” burrito nights so everyone picks their own toppings.
For more tips on Eating Healthy read The Plant-Based Diet Starter Guide: How to Cook Shop and Eat Well.