Changing your eating habits is one of the most challenging things to do when you’re trying to develop a healthy lifestyle. And what we all know is that eating does not occur in a vacuum. Eating is very social. And what we eat can be triggered by our emotions, our environment, or our family and friends. Whether it’s your spouse, your best friend or even your kids – we often have to consider others when preparing meals at home. So when you look at making changes to how and what you eat, you often need to also look at who you’re eating with. And one challenge that comes up time and time again is how to eat healthy when your family doesn’t buy into a healthy eating lifestyle (yet).
Trying to eat healthily can be most difficult when you are in an environment where others just don’t have the same mindset about healthy eating as you do. Maybe your co-workers bring in Oreo cookies as their snack of choice, offering these to you every day. Maybe you have “Pizza Friday” every week at work, and of course, you feel pressured to participate. Plus indulging in these “foods” is so much easier than bringing lunch, right? Or maybe your spouse – out of the goodness of his heart – brought home a BOGO deal on goodies from the supermarket bakery. And you sure wouldn’t want it to go to waste! Or perhaps your challenge is getting the kids on board; do they simply refuse to eat anything you put on the table that strikes even a remote resemblance to a vegetable?
I know what you’re up against, and it’s not easy. But the good news is that you can stick to your healthy eating guns even in the midst of resistance. But first, it’s important for you to understand why you’re feeling the resistance in the first place.
Reasons Why Your Family May Not Support Your Healthy Eating Journey
- They don’t want to be left behind. Seeing you make healthier choices may make them recognize their current poor choices that they are still not ready to change.
- They think you’re just in another phase. You may have been yo-yo dieting for many years and they think you’re not really serious about making a healthy change.
- They can’t relate. Maybe they don’t fully understand your struggle with unhealthy eating because they just don’t have those same issues.
- They are scared of what your new healthy lifestyle might mean for your relationship. Maybe they think you’ll “change” and things will no longer be the same.
There are many reasons why your family members and friends may not understand or be able to support you in your new healthy lifestyle. So how can you eat healthy when your family doesn’t?
3 Easy Steps to Eat Healthy When Your Family Doesn’t
1. Know Your Why
The first step is to identify why you’re even trying to establish a healthy eating plan for yourself. Why do you want to be healthy and why is healthy eating important to you? Do you have a medical condition that requires that you modify your eating habits? This might be pre-diabetes, allergies, obesity, or a heart condition? If you said yes to any of these, then you have a very compelling reason to make changes to your diet. Or you might be trying to eat healthy because you simply realize that having a healthy diet is a great way to secure your health for the future. Knowing why you want to be and eat healthily will help to set your compass for the long term.
People change eating habits for various reasons. Some other common reasons you may want to eat healthier:
- Lose weight
- Lower stress
- Boost energy
- Fight inflammation
- Improve sleep
- Boost immunity
- Protect your heart
2. Keep the Focus on Yourself
Often, when we are looking at making a change in our lives we seek validation or approval from others. And we tend to turn to those who know us best, our family. When you don’t get the “green light” it may leave you questioning if you should really be making the change. But the key is to listen to your inner voice which will guide you to a healthy decision. Remembering that you’re making these changes for yourself, andn not for others, will keep you focused and moving towards your goal regardless if you feel others understand your motives or not.
3. Get support from like-plated people
Connect with people who are on a similar path. These might be people with a similar history or similar goals. There’s nothing like being around people who know where you’re coming from, where you want to go, and just plain “get” you.
The members of your tribe will understand what you’re going through and – because some of them may have already been through it – they can offer you perspectives that others simply can’t. They may be facing similar challenges and as a group, you will all be able to support one another towards your healthy eating goals. Finding your people means you may need to venture outside of your comfort zone to find your people.
When everyone in the family buys into your healthy eating plan, your journey towards a healthy eating lifestyle will be smoother. But this doesn’t always happen. So having the right mindset and support will help you to stay the course as you make healthy eating part of your lifestyle.
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Alicia Hyatte is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Family Wellness Advocate, Health Educator, and a Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. She helps parents to build healthier habits and routines to better balance home and work life. Her website, WholeFamilyLiving.com, provides motivation and simple strategies for handling everyday challenges like managing stress, being active, eating healthier, losing weight, and more. Alicia is a beach lover and gardening geek in her spare time.