Real Food for Families: 4 Tips for Getting Everyone to Eat Well
There are so many reasons to embrace a real food diet. For starters, simply consider the way it makes you feel.
And the benefits have even further positive impacts on weight, chronic disease, even behavior!
As a holistic health professional my goal is to teach others about the myriad of ways they can use natural approaches to better their health without relying on pharmaceuticals or costly medical therapies. And the discussion always starts with food.
The standard American diet (SAD) is no longer a taboo topic. We all eat far more junk than we should and far few veggies, fruits, and healthy fats. But in spite of this awareness, changing what appears on the dinner table isn’t always easy.
And it’s even tougher when there’s the threat of a mutiny at the family table.
A lot of push-back I receive from clients pertaining to healthy eating is that incorporating such a diet is just overwhelming and impractical. And while the client may be interested in a healthier course, the rest of the family is plain and simply not on board.
Not to worry… I’ve got you covered!
Here are some tips for smooth sailing into the world of real food:
1) Set a Positive Tone
Would you say you are an influential person?
In your home you certainly are! As wives and mothers it’s important we take seriously our role as chief influencer (right along with chief cook and bottle-washer) in our home. We have the power to steer our families in a positive direction or one that leads to chronic illness and yuck.
I once had a client remorsefully remark that she didn’t want her elementary-age son to have to stop eating Doritos and soda for a snack after school. How sad! She was missing her chance to influence her son’s (and the rest of the family’s) attitude toward healthy foods.
Eating well is not a drag! The benefits far outweigh the cravings, I assure you.
And when you set a positive tone toward healthy eating you’re laying the groundwork for a valuable lifestyle behavior that will serve them the rest of their life.
2) Take It Slow
When I hand a client a list of suggested foods to incorporate into their menu it’s natural for their eyes to bug a little. It’s a breath-taking moment for them; perhaps the seemingly biggest homework assignment of all time. And then the defeat sets in.
How in the world am I going to succeed at this?!
Here’s how: Take. It. Slow.
Do not attempt to make over your (or your family’s) favorite recipe with real food ingredients and homemade cream of mushroom soup right out of the gate. Moving toward healthier eating isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.
It’s a lifestyle change.
So don’t rush it.
Your family will thank you. And you’ll like yourself a little better, too.
Furthermore, when you take a family favorite and start changing it, it’s no longer going to be the family favorite. Take my word on that one. Instead, keep the favorite dish in all it’s *unhealthy* integrity and simply introduce so new foods to the table.
–> Look over the healthy food list and find a few things you know certain members of your family like already. Make sure you buy lots of these items the next time you’re at the store! Keep them convenient and accessible.
–> Next, browse the list for a few unknown items you would like to try. Get family members’ opinion on this, too! (And be sure you set a positive tone for trying new foods!)
–> Lastly, begin browsing the pantry and familiarize yourself with the ingredient and nutrition labels on the items inside. Make a list of items that fall short of your nourishment goals… it might be time to send some of them where they belong: the trash.
3) Keep It Simple
Speaking of pantry staples, another important tip that goes hand in hand with taking things slow is to keep things simple. Once you have an idea of what items in your pantry aren’t good to have around, consider replacing or trashing only one thing each week.
Doing so will keep your family from slipping into health-food shock and will keep your wallet happy.
When evaluating an item, consider if it’s a necessity (in which case you’ll want to find a healthier alternative) or not (you’ll be better off without it, period dot).
For instance, I don’t recommend purchasing a “healthier” (read: organic) boxed alternative to the ol’ blue box mac ‘n cheese. Either:
2) find a recipe for a nourishing side dish your family will enjoy (something like this yummy cheesy roasted cauliflower).
When it comes to healthy eating, it’s not hard to keep it simple. In fact, simple is better!
Be mindful that healthy living turns time consuming when you attempt to transform elaborate casseroles, sauces, condiments or baked goods into healthy masterpieces. Those transformations can be done; professional chefs and empty-nesters do it all the time. At my house, with five little ones around, that’s not how we roll. Keeping it simple keeps me sane.
4) Educate Yourself (and Your Family)
It’s a lot easier to do things when we understand the “why” behind what we’re doing. I don’t recommend my clients alter their diet because it’s the latest fad, in fact my recommendations tend to be very individualized.
Instead, holistic practitioners recommend real food diets to pointedly address health issues. For us the “why” is rooted in common sense:
Consider this – your body performs thousands of intricate tasks throughout the day. Comprised of billions of cells, the body is in a constant state of regeneration, dispatching with old cells and creating new ones. What you eat and drink is all the material your body has at it’s disposal to use in crafting these new cells.
That’s it. In simple terms you quite literally are what you eat!
It’s a scientific fact that cell malfunction is the root cause of disease. Cellular malfunction itself is the direct result of malnutrition. Foods that contain poor levels of vitamins and minerals all contribute to cell malfunction, as do processed oils, sugar, refined flour… I could go on.
So it is with what we eat.
Is it little wonder, then, that our generation is experiencing so many chronic, debilitating illnesses given the materials we provide our body to work with? It’s like putting unleaded gas in a sleek race car… by definition it’s still a race car, but the performance would be downright disappointing.
The more you learn about the role food plays in regeneration, behavior and vitality, the more you’ll be sold that only the best is good enough for you and your family!
And you can’t beat that motivation!