Accomplishing more with less is a big passion of mine.
That’s why I heal with nutrition. And that’s why I work with women.
Women are “Influence Powerhouses.”
We influence our families, our friends, our coworkers, acquaintances, and everything we touch.
A truly awesome responsibility from God if you ask me.
So how do you influence your children – at any age – to get on board with healthier eating habits, especially when it hasn’t been a habit since birth? Do you clean out the kitchen? Simply set an example and hope they will follow? Or something in between?
<<< BIG thanks to reader Leslie for your question! If you have questions for the next article, email it to email@example.com>>>
First, I am not a mother (yet) so there’s no way I can fully understand the challenge, but I have worked with lots of mothers over the past four years who use various strategies to share their exciting healthy results with their families. My husband wasn’t always on board with my healthy lifestyle either, so out of this duo I will share 4 strategies to create healthy habits at home and become whole family healthy.
1. Commit to Healthy
Healthy living is a commitment that pays dividends in energy, exuberant health, less frequent doctors visits, eliminating mood swings, improving skin, behavior, libido, and waist lines.
But it is a commitment. A long-term journey over days, weeks, months, years. It doesn’t matter where you start, but it matters deeply that you do start!
This will not be overnight. It will be a process. It will take time! Accepting that reality upfront diffuses tension later on!
Are you an “all-or-nothing” or more of a “baby steps” type of mom?
All-or-nothing(ers), cleaning out the pantry and going for it is the best way for you, BUT I encourage you to have a positive family talk beforehand (and if there’s a husband in the house, GET HIS SUPPORT FIRST!) about why healthy living is important, the results you’ve experienced, about the benefits, and what the future will look like at home because of it. In this discussion, be honest that perfection isn’t the goal, but at home, this is what will be served.
TIP: Completely altering the general kind of food you eat from Day1 may cause anarchy in the house! Instead, cook as many of your regular-loved healthy meals at home as possible and drip in new choices. While you are eating, share that this is what healthy eating is, something they already love, e.g., chicken/beef and veggie kabobs.
“Baby steps” moms, gradual changes are more in line for you. Think this through about the major changes you’d like to make, e.g., eliminating pasta at home, sugary cereals, juices, etc., and think through a gradual change approach and the steps it will take to reach your desired result.
Maybe it’s swapping juice for water at breakfast as step one (or watering down the juice). Or perhaps it’s swapping dessert for berries with homemade whipped cream and a bit of sugar. Whatever it is, create your plan and continue to refer to it step-by-step. You, too, should have a positive family conversation beforehand.
Pick one thing each month to work on, but when you do swap, be firm. This keeps everyone generally happy while still creating lasting change at home. When your family sees you follow through on the first one, they know you will follow through on the rest. This is very important for food and life.
TIP: Make it a challenge! Try a 30 Day Healthy Eating Challenge at home that excites everyone! Tie it to their most-loved activities – whether sports, skin, friends, or work performance. Share that you’ll be living this way at home for 30 days and if they don’t look, feel, and perform better, you can have a conversation about what to change.
2. Empower with Choice
One of the biggest gifts you can give your children (and yourself) is the lesson of truly learning that choices have consequences.
And part of being a parent is guiding choices in the home.
Forcing and bribing are much different than giving a choice and being gentle but firm to follow through with that option.
If, when you begin serving more delicious healthy foods there is backlash, say, “This is what is being served this evening. I’m sorry you don’t want try or eat it. That is fine, but it is your choice and nothing else will be served.”
Your children will not starve, even at a young age, from skipping a meal or two. And I assure you, they will only choose to go hungry a few times.
As a not-so-long grown former teen, I can tell you, I WISH I had had this lesson then. I WISH I could have learned that I cannot manipulate my way out of anything I don’t like in life. I WISH I had learned that choices have consequences and I am responsible for my choices then.
3. Involve Everyone
We eat what we choose, grow, and/or prepare ourselves.
Kids will do this too.
That’s why I take my husband shopping with me. That’s why my clients take their children to the Farmer’s Market or grocery story to pick their own veggies.
Even potted gardens (e.g., herbs, salad greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers) are fun easy ways to get the whole family involved.
The more you involve your family in this lifestyle, the more they will make it their own. The more you share your positive results from living this way, continually link the effects of positive and poor eating to real life results (e.g., brain fog, poor testing, poor performance, positive performance) and truly listen to your family, the more they will want to be a part of this lifestyle.
If they don’t like a meal, change it, or prepare it in a different way. Let them pick recipes.
One of my clients served healthy meals at home, but her kids would sometimes skip breakfast to eat the packaged breakfast at school (Their choice, remember?). As she continued to link the effects of sugar and gluten to her kid’s hurting tummies after eating it, it clicked. Her 8 year old now chooses on his own not to eat sugar or wheat, even if the rest of the family is having some for celebration.
Make it FUN! Your effort is sinking in, I promise!
Photo by Flickr (Rachel Tayse)
4. Be Gentle with Yourself
You will fail. You will slip up. You will say things you don’t mean and do things contrary to your commitment.
But what is the general trend?
When you mess up, no guilt trip. Just make the next right choice.
Perfection is NOT the goal here, but continual forward progress and doing the best you can to provide a healthy foundation for life.
You cannot control everything, but you can do the best you can at home. Celebrate that. Accept the responsibility. And nourish your family the best you can!
What are your best strategies for getting the family on board with healthy eating? Share them in the Comments below! I cannot wait to learn from you!
Gerilyn Burnett helps women achieve the body, energy, and impact they desire by implementing healthy lifestyles they love! She specializes in helping Christian women cultivate health to the glory of God. Her own journey from miserable, fat, stuck, and tired to fit, confident, vibrant, and delicious make her uniquely suited for this mission! She has a knack for creating contagious healthy experiences and providing the needed support and accountability that turn diets into lifestyles and dreams into realities. Get started on your journey to vibrant vitality for life here.
Hi! I’m Gerilyn Burnett, and I help Christian women live vibrantly healthy lives to the glory of God! Our relationship with our body and the food we eat is deeply entwined with our confidence and our effectiveness as Christians. I’m really curious to know what you are curious about! What are your biggest barriers to living the degree of health you desire? What would you like to learn? Comment on this post and/or send your questions directly to info@GerilynBurnett.com. Please let me know you’re a friend of Jory’s. Thanks!