I used to feel like my family might as well be eating SPAM for dinner.
I’d look over at my husband’s plate: two hearty mounds of meatloaf and not a vegetable in sight. And then my daughter’s plate: she only eats five things total, including goat’s milk yogurt, gluten-free cereal, dried mangos and gluten-free pretzels.
I guess I can use the excuse that she’s three. Then there is my plate: a mélange of assorted raw vegetable salads. As I would sit there, I would find myself confounded by the funny food farm on our dining room table.
Eating well is not just some sidebar of my character; it’s an integral aspect of who I am. I walk the talk. I talk the walk. Good nutrition and healthy eating habits for me is a must. I’d prepare raw, delicious foods and take my daily supplements. It’s non-negotiable.
So how come I couldn’t get them to eat anything that wasn’t processed and out of a box? They’d want nothing to do with my plate. My husband would see green and ask where the main course was. My daughter would see green and ask for her crackers.
It was maddening. Do you feel like you’re in the same boat? Are you struggling to teach your family to want to be conscientious of what they put inside their bodies? Are you trying to align your family’s eating habits with your own values when they clearly don’t care?
Let me tell you, this is not an easy task. Converting your family to a conscious nutrition program takes education and time. Bad habits are hard to break. I know—I had my bad habits too. But ultimately, for me, there was no other choice. My digestive system went haywire and I knew I had no choice. I was at the end of my rope and unwilling to feel less than perfect anymore.
The strange thing is most people have accepted less-than-optimal digestion. Gas, bloating, constipation, fatigue, moodiness, sluggishness, and terrible sleeping patterns have become the norm, and no one looks at to their diets as the potential cause. But these symptoms do not have to be acceptable. Not for you and not for your family.
So how do you change their eating habits without feeling like the Grinch that stole Christmas?
- Make it fun: Bring your kids into the kitchen with you to prepare their own food. When they have a chance to be included in the experience, they may want to eat what they’ve prepared. My three-year-old knows how to use our juicer and my eleven-year-old loves using the Cuisinart. She even bought me a dehydrator for Christmas last year!
- “Sneak” veggies in their food: There are ways to create delicious green smoothies with enough fruit in them so their picky taste buds still enjoy.
- Make sure your kiddos are on a multi-vitamin, bi-omegas and active calcium: Even with the diet I have, I consider supplementation a must. Unless your kids are eating ten pounds of spinach a day and fifteen cans of sardines, chances are, they, too, need supplementation.
- Try a variety of new recipes for your man who won’t eat his veggies: Instead of overhauling his eating habits, create the kind of salads or vegetable dishes that you think he may love. Experiment. Get online or check out my blog to find recipes that spruce up your standard vegetables. He too will start to crave them in their raw form like you do. You can also start making killer salads that incorporate tons of great things he’ll love. A chopped salad with romaine, salami, feta cheese, apple, carrots, cucumber, finely chopped kale, nuts, bell pepper, and avocado tossed in an apple cider vinegar and olive oil based dressing will convert any man.
If you’re tired of your family’s eating habits and concerned with their general health and well-being, you are going to have to take the bull by the horns and experiment in a way that makes your family members feel good about your choices and theirs.
You may have to fly in under the radar instead of banging them over the head with accusations about how ridiculous their eating habits may seem to you, but if you are willing to put in the effort and remember to keep it fun and positive, you, too, will be able to inspire your family to make better choices. And soon you’ll be hearing your toddlers asking if they can help you prepare a salad or, better yet, your hubby, ordering a vegetarian meal when you go out to eat!
Do you have experience or a funny story about how you got your family on the veggie train? Share with us in the comments below!
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Ed: Bryonie Wise