A big key is: Gradually, with love
1. Involve your family as much as possible. Don’t try to be the big heavy coming in with a massive overhaul to the current status quo. Nobody likes that guy.
- Brainstorm together what are your favorite meals to make at home. Start with an open-ended question: What are your favorite meals we’ve made at home? What are your memories of good meal experiences? What meals do you choose at restaurants?
- Encourage their cooking efforts and make it a priority to give them opportunities to explore food preparation for themselves and the family. Start early, but keep your expectations small and allow freedom.
- Cook together as a family. Plan a meal that requires everyone’s help in chopping, etc. Some good group cooking meal ideas: make your own pizza (even the dough is simple when doing the work with friends!), tacos, sushi (haven’t mastered that one yet), etc.
2. Pick your battles. Make a list of EVERYTHING that is important that you would like to change. Brainstorm (maybe by yourself or with a friend, so your family doesn’t know all the intel). Get ALL your ideas written down. Take a deep breath; don’t feel overwhelmed because there is so far to go. Prioritize your list and start with one or two things at the top of the list.
3. Model healthy choices. What you do speaks far more loudly than any lecture you could give. But don’t have a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Gently explain the choices you are making and why – when the opportunity arises.
4. Catch them doing something good. Affirm healthy choices that you see: even if they choose to drink a glass of water. Find something! People will move in a positive direction if it is encouraged.
5. Exercise together. Set up family dates to go for a walk, play Frisbee golf, hike, etc. If it helps increase enthusiasm and participation, encourage the kids to invite friends for the activity.
Caution: Don’t set the bar so high – for yourself or others – or you may be tempted to give up before you even get started. Baby steps in the right direction will lead to bigger and bigger steps and before you know it, you will look back and see that you have made tremendous progress!
Please share some ideas that you have found easy to implement to help your family improve their nutrition in the comments. We’d all like to get some new ideas!
Remember, to enjoy the journey!