However you define it, healthy eating is important to pretty much everyone who seeks self-improvement. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, control disease, gain muscle mass or improve your running speed, you’ll look at your diet.
Inconveniently, in most relationships and most families there is usually someone who is far more invested in healthy eating than the other. Or at least slightly more invested.
Maybe it’s the competitive runner whose girlfriend is a carboholic pizza-junkie. Maybe it’s the mum dieting to lose a few lbs, but her also slightly tubby husband and children will only half-heartedly join in. Maybe it’s the person who does a load of research into processed foods and goes almost cold-turkey, whilst their best friend still eats processed food on a daily basis.
Whatever the situation, the person who is more invested desperately wants the other people to “wake up” and “eat healthier”. The runner knows his girlfriend would be happier to run with him if she was less sluggish. The mum knows her family would benefit from losing a few lbs with her. The person knows their friend is risking their health by eating processed foods every day. And they all think that what they are doing is the bare minimum for health. And they all want to know how to make their loved ones eat healthier.
So, if you find yourself in that camp, follow this simple step by step guide.
1. Accept You Can’t Make Them.
Oh come on, you didn’t really think you could make someone eat healthy, right? At least not in any ethical, humane way.
People will eat what they want to. You have more control over your kids and partner if you shop and cook for them, but if chocolate bars are handed out at school or someone brings cake into work, you can’t stop them having it. They are humans with free will, opportunity and incentive. They will eat chocolate. Let it go.
2. Accept That Everyone Is Different.
Just because you have celiac disease, need to avoid carbs to not get fat or get headaches from aspartame doesn’t mean everyone will.
Sometimes it can be frustrating to not be able to eat a piece of cake when your friend can eat the whole thing and not suffer at all, or even feel better for it.
Likewise, it can be frustrating to think the perfect recovery food is pineapple and find someone whose mouth is burned by it or who hates the taste.
But people are different and your idea of health food needs to account for that.
What is right for you may not be right for all your family.
3. Offer Them Literature.
If you are worried they don’t know enough about food and diet and are making an uninformed decision, then offer them some good sources. Other than yourself. You may be walking encyclopedia on health food, but they need to understand health food first.
Depending on their age, interests and attention span, choose a source they are likely to finish reading, find credible and enjoy. If after reading they have their own counterarguments, then listen and debate with them.
You won’t get anywhere with someone who doesn’t actually understand things like epigenetics or the effects of salt on the human body.
4. Sneak Them Healthy Foods.
Sometimes the issue is that the very idea of healthy food is countercultural. That is, it defies modern culture so much that some people will be averse to it just because it is the opposite of what they like.
If a salad is automatically rejectable because your culture loves burgers, or “real” fried chicken is deep fried in hydrogenated oils, how are you going to compete with tribalism?
The answer: with stealth. If someone doesn’t want a certain food because it’s unfamiliar or because the name, such as “salad” suggests one thing to them, then be more stealthy.
Serve a warm potato salad with steamed broccoli, aubergine, raw red pepper and tomato, grilled chicken cubes and a light dressing. Just don’t call it salad.
Serve a pasta sauce that’s ten different vegetables blended into the tomato base and lean mince or grass-fed lamb mince.
Chances are they’ll like it anyway.
5. Bond Over Food.
People who like eating healthy often also love food. Many people who aren’t into healthy eating haven’t developed a love for food great enough to break outside of their routine. They enjoy the small selection of foods they actually eat, but nothing more. Many others love food and can’t stand the idea of restricting or eliminating junk foods, however much they enjoy healthy food as well.
Whatever their issue is: get them in the kitchen. Take them out shopping or foraging. Find out the ingredients to their favourite dish. Ask them to help you bake. Have a proper sit-down meal without media involved.
By bonding over the preparation and consumption of food, you’re helping your family to focus on its enjoyability. And if you’re also relaxed about their diet, teaching them about health food and making meals out of healthy, whole ingredients, then the food they are enjoying will be good, healthy food.
What an insidious, horrible way of making people eat their greens.
Aren’t we terrible?
TTFN and Happy Hunting!
How do you think your diet fares? Are you the health nut in your family? How do you sneak vegetables into your family’s diet?