family health food serious habits

Today I want to talk about something that’s been on my mind ever since Sarah and I got back from our most recent trip back home to Seattle.

Sarah and I dramatically changed our diets about 5 years ago, and know first-hand what it’s like to be the odd ones out; especially when at the dinner table.

For us, the whole process was pretty straight-forward and we were able to stick to our routine and push through the beginning phase (which I’m going to talk more about soon), but for most this is rarely the case.

Often times, it takes a few tries of declaring your new direction – in terms of eating for health – and takes a lot of effort and focus to keep momentum until everyone is on-board with the new you. And that’s what this post is all about, my best advice to make it though the honeymoon phase of your new health-focused lifestyle.

You want to eat healthy… what’s the problem?

It’s easy for us to make up our minds and decide “Yes, I am going to start eating better. I will have more energy, lose some weight, feel better and be much happier”. But it’s another for our friends and family to be on the same page.

The problem, is you have a vision of the new you, but you’re family still sees you as you were before, drinking diet coke and eating pizza.

You want to change, but they don’t

– Often times when someone starts eating healthier, exercising, and making change in their lives, others see it as a threat. It’s an attack on the way they live their lives.

– If it’s not seen as an attack, then they are simply on auto-pilot, and aren’t used to your new preferences.

So what’s the best way to go about it?

Choose one thing you want to change at a time, and stick to it until you’ve nailed it – about 30 days for most people.

Keep at it until not only it’s a habit for you, but also for your family and coworkers to remember your new routine – which allows them to form the habit as well. Choosing multiple things to change at once decreases your odds for maintaining it, so be honest with yourself and only add one additional habit at a time.

Also, make sure you’ve interacted with your closest friends, family and coworkers so this new habit comes up, too.

Remember, most of them have no idea that you’ve made this change, so be prepared to tell your story again and again of why you decided to start doing this (or why you stopped). I’ve known people who successfully implemented a new diet, starting feeling good, only to have their family knock them off when returning home for a short visit.

“Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in” ~ The Godfather

What We Don’t Recommend

Jumping in, head first!

Some people make it that way, but most don’t.

Give yourself some time to get each habit down without pressure.

Sarah and I decided to eliminate alcohol, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, gelatin, artificial coloring, refined sugars/flours AND switch to organics all in one shot. As you can imagine, it took a long time for everyone we knew to get used to it at family dinners, holidays, parties, barbeques, etc. To be honest, if we had eliminated gluten at the same time we might not have made it!

Tip: Prepare yourself ahead of time

Doing a little bit of planning ahead can be a game changer when maintaining these new habits.

Here are a few ideas to consider…

  • Bring food with you to every event (don’t rely on what will be there. Chances are you will cave and eat crap, or starve and be unhappy)
  • Know the restaurant your going to (if they don’t have options there for you, eat before or don’t go)
  • When traveling, research grocery stores in the area (sometimes there aren’t any good options, so plan on checking a bag with lots of prepared foods and ingredients)

Sarah and I attribute part our success to always planning ahead and never getting caught in a situation where we would have to eat something we didn’t feel good about. We are a bit extreme (as you probably already know) but we  enjoy eating the way we do so much that we gladly put in the leg-work and planning to make it happen.

Last Tip

The best attribute for getting your family to take your healthy eating routine seriously is to have unwavering opinions about what you eat.

So the next time your mom offers you candy, or a your grandma offers you a butter biscuit, be blunt, but in a loving way. They’ll respect that.

Let’s Practice…

“No thanks, Mom. Remember, I don’t eat candy anymore because it has too much sugar?”

“You’re sweet Grandma, no thanks I’m okay :)”

If you don’t, you will be sending mixed signals to them. If you cave once to them, they will remember and feel like you’re ‘coming back to normal’. And if you’re anything like us, ‘normal’ or ‘average’ just ain’t cuttin’ it :)

That’s how I got my family/friends/coworkers to take my healthy eating seriously, what about you? What did I miss?

A big part of creating and maintaining healthy habits is having a strong community. We will be opening our new and improved community in just a few short weeks. Sign up here to get on the wait list:)

    5 replies to "How to Convince Family Healthy Eating is the New You"

    • Amera

      Love it! I was blessed to have a very supportive family and they were all in for me! My friends did the best they could too but it does help if you remind people that the change you have made is not solely about your looks or how “thin” you want to be. Let them know it makes you feel better and can do more things you enjoy. Its easier for people to comprehend a change when its a needed for a quality of life rather then a diet to lose weight or deal with vanity!

      xoxo love you both!

      • Sarah

        Thank’s Amera! I think you have a really good point, friends and family need to know that it’s about your health and how you feel, we all want our friends and family to feel their best! Sending love and good health to you my friend!

    • Josh

      We struggle every time we go home. My mom keeps the house stocked full of sweets and old habits are hard to kick in that house. With that said when we are back at the parentals my mother bends over backwards to help us eat the way we eat. She does slip up a few times here or there, but she does her best. My father on the other hand is supportive of us and doesn’t interfere with our eating, but refuses to eat when we cook dinner. If there is no meat in the food or prepared on the side then he doesn’t eat anything. It makes it tough for us when his disapproval is in our face wherever we cook for them. He tries to be accepting sometimes, usually when he comes to visit us, but when it’s at his house he is a little less adventurous.

      • Peter

        I hear ya Josh. Pretty crazy, but as I read your comment I felt as though I might have actually written it! Sarah and I go through the Exact. Same. Thing.

        It’s up to us to eat healthy when we visit home, and food tends to be a sensitive subject all the time – which is difficult as food is incredibly personal and social.

        We don’t try to cook as much for my family as we did in the beginning. It just wasn’t appreciated. Thanks for the comment, we’re right there with you guys!

    • Megan

      Great topic, guys! Yep, I am gearing up with super-clean eating for the month before a big family reunion, so I am not tempted by any of the junk (family progress: some of it will be vegan junk!). And totally with you on bringing food and knowing restaurants and nearby natural food stores in advance. 17 years into healthy eating for me (7 vegan), and I still have to gear up for the big family gatherings… but it has definitely gotten easier! Love that you guys are tackling all the real-life practicalities. xo

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