5 Ways To Make Your Family Eat Healthy.

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?

5 Diet Myths You Probably Believe.

I think everyone has a few ideas on diet they cling onto for no reason at all. I know fruit is no worse (or should I say no better?) for me than potatoes, but I still love potatoes and neglect fruit. I probably believe or do some things that are completely nonsensical because I picked them up and never let them go.

But some of these myths are held by so many people that sometimes we have to complain. And that’s what I’m going to do. Here are five diet myths that are demonstrably false which you probably actually do believe.

1. X/Y/Z Is Bad For You.

Yes, we all use it as an expression. But we also genuinely believe it about certain things. You may think meat is bad for you, carbs are bad for you, sugar is bad for you, salt is bad for you, alcohol is bad for you, etc. And we incorporate this into our daily diets and the diet advice we dole out. And to a degree, it’s true. Alcohol does your liver some harm in any amount. Junk food messes with your metabolism. Sugar strains your pancreas. But there is an implicit falsehood in it.

You’ve probably already heard “everything in moderation”, the argument that nothing is inherently “Bad”, just that it can be consumed in too high a quantity. But there is another side to that argument: nothing is actually inherently “Good” for you either. Everything we consume has necessary nutrients, every nutrient is necessary. Everything puts some strain on the body or has some toxic products or byproducts. Avoiding one or two specific things is as meaningless as eating one or two specific things. Teetotalism makes you no more a saint of health than eating Goji berries does. It’s better to work out how your body, on an individual basis, processes all sorts of foods and to balance the right amount of everything.

And, mentioning toxins…

2. Detox.

Detoxes are a joke. Think about this rationally. If you drink enough alcohol that your liver can’t eliminate the toxins, you die. If you eat an apple pip, you body processes the cyanide, if you eat cyanide crystals, your body detoxes too slowly and you die. So, if your body wasn’t detoxing, you’d not be here.

And what about progressive buildup? Well, that’s a whole other can of worms. For the sake of simplicity: if you are keeping your body consistently just below the mark for poisoning, do you really think fasting, drinking green smoothies or some magic shake is going to undo all that damage and filter all that out? And do you really think a detox is a better option than not poisoning yourself to begin with? Seriously?

3. Dietary Variety.

Now, what isn’t a myth is that dietary variety benefits you. But the two main benefits of dietary variety are that you’re less likely to be poisoned and guaranteed nutritional variety. However most people throughout the world avoided poisoning and nutritional deficiencies on a fairly plain diet at some point in history or another. And with modern sanitation we can keep our food clean and with modern nutritional data we can assess our food’s nutritional quality. So there is no longer any actual need for dietary variety. Hell, teenagers can survive on chicken nuggets and you can meet your requirements for every nutrient on a diet of potatoes, bananas, liver, sardines, eggs and sunflower seeds.

Now, your health may be improved if you add some variety and the need to meticulously weigh every serving of food goes away. But the sheer amount of variety some people think we need is not only historically impossible, but is also not at all required for life and general fitness.

4. Going All Out On Cheat Days.

Not so much a rule or belief as an action that has just as negative an effect. When we diet strictly or diet at all, when we’re trying to lose weight or get fit or get healthy, we have cravings for foods we’re not allowed. You could go on an “only my 5 favourite foods” diet and eventually get sick of them and crave something you never thought was all that great. So, we allow cheat days. And the general idea of a cheat day is to go all out, eat and drink everything you can’t eat or drink the rest of the time. And we somehow think this is healthy.

After 150 days. And that’s still not doing his organs any favours. Mull that over.

But overwhelming your body isn’t healthy. Let’s use the pancreas as an example. It secretes insulin in response to sugar, enzymes in response to fat, protein or alcohol and triggers hormonal regulation that affects youth thyroid and adrenal glands, among other things. If you eat low carb, no junk food, moderate fat, just the right amount of protein and no alcohol for six days and then on the seventh day you eat four pizzas, a steak and chips, a tub of ice-cream and a bottle of vodka, you are throwing a week’s worth of work onto your pancreas in one go. Your body just isn’t designed to deal with that. That is why alcoholics get liver disease but some people get severe acute pancreatitis from two beers.

In short, either restrict your cheats to a single meal or follow the 80/20 rule, unless you want to overwhelm your body and make yourself ill.

5. I’ll Just Work It Off.

Surely eating too much or eating junk or drinking too much doesn’t matter, because you can burn it off at the end of the day? Well, we only believe that because we conflate being slim with being healthy. In reality, plenty of thin people have metabolic disorder, heart attacks, liver disease and colon cancer. So working off the calories in your food will not fix you or make you less prone to illness.

In reality, whilst nothing is inherently just “Bad” or “Good” for you, if you do overconsume something that wears your body down, the calories aren’t the only thing impacting your health. And you just can’t “work off” insulin resistance, liver scars, diverticulae or thyroid imbalances. You can only prevent these things from happening by eating a healthy, balanced diet.

And those are five diet myths you probably believed. Do you know any other diet myths that are demonstrably false? What advice would you give to anyone struggling with the issues here? How do you keep fit and healthy? Please share in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!