How to Eat Healthy When Your Family Does Not

How to Eat Healthy When Your Family Does Not

You’ve given your diet an overhaul- said farewell to the processed foods and started eating healthier. You already feel better- happier, healthier and more energetic. 

Except there’s just one set back: your family. They’re not ready to swap cheesy white noodles for veggies, or to give up their cookies and chips.

Now you find yourself cooking at least 2 or 3 different meals in order for your family to sit down together for dinner. And frankly, it’s exhausting.

Sound familiar?

If so, you’re not alone. In fact, I’m right there with you. While my healthy eating habits have slowly rubbed off on my family over the years, my diet is quite different than my family’s. Our dinners do look a bit different, but I’ve mastered the art of not cooking entirely separate meals while enjoying slightly different variations in eating styles.

Before I share my tips, kudos to you for making healthy lifestyle changes. Even if your family is not on aboard right away, rest assured that your habits will trickle down to them. It may be slow, but like they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Don’t preach or pester your loved ones, or berate them for eating ‘unhealthy foods’. Trust me- I’ve made this mistake and it’s not worth it. All you have control of is you (and yes, your kids to some degree). Invite them to come along on your journey, share good food with them, but let them change at their own pace.  

Getting your family’s support is a topic for another article altogether- in this article I’m going to focus on practical tips to eating healthy when your family doesn’t.

  1. Start with the healthy things your entire family does like to eat. Chances are, your family does enjoy some healthy foods. Maybe there are certain vegetables, or maybe everyone enjoys an oven-roasted chicken. If it helps, write all the foods down on a list.
  2. When you meal plan, build your meals around the foods that you can all enjoy, most of the time. For example, in my household we can all agree on the meat we eat. The entire family also likes steamed broccoli.
  3. You don’t have to make all the foods, even if you did in the past. For example, if you used to make Kraft dinner on a somewhat regular basis and now know better, you can stop making it. Your family will survive- in fact they may survive longer because of it.
  4. Start to make sneaky swaps. I get it- subbing cauliflower in for mashed potatoes may not fly. But, you can start to upgrade the ingredients you use. For example, if you were using processed oils for cooking foods, you can start frying in clarified butter or coconut oil, or lightly sautéing in olive oil. You could cut down on the sugar you use in a recipe, or start adding ½ sprouted grain flour in baking instead of just white flour.
  5. Know that you don’t need to eat all the same things. This is a big one. While a lot of our meals consist of the same foods, a lot of the sides are different. Let’s say, for example, you make tacos for dinner. You can choose to have taco meat on a big salad with avocado. You may choose to skip the sour cream and cheese and add more veggies. Or, if you’re having steak, you can serve your steak with a big salad, and steamed veggies. If there’s potatoes or rice, you may choose not to have it, or to have a small portion. Pizza for supper? Make yours on a thin pita with lots of veggies. In the examples, the amount of work needed to prep the dinner is the same- you have simply opted to eat or not to eat certain parts of the meal.
  6. Make lots of ‘alternatives for you’ and store in the fridge of freezer. I’m a big fan of swapping processed carbs for veggies. There’s no doubt that making prepping veggies takes more time than cooking pasta or opening a loaf of bread. Instead of starting fresh each night, make a big portion of veggies and either store it in the fridge or freezer. I also recommend getting really good at making a delicious salad with a homemade salad dressing. For 6 simple swaps for starchy carbs, go to ascendfitnesscoaching.com/simpleswap

    In many cases, your family may actually enjoy new foods like cauliflower rice or spaghetti squash (big win!). In my family, however, no one else has adopted my love for cauliflower or spaghetti squash.

  7. Finally, keep trying to make delicious, healthy food and offer it to your family. Healthy food can be absolutely delicious. Play around with different spices and herbs and have fun in the kitchen. Some dishes will be a hit, others will not. Don’t take it personally and be proud of yourself for trying!

I’m so glad that you have decided to make healthier choices. If your family is not quite on board, I feel for you! I hope my tips will help you stick to your healthy living while keeping your sanity at dinnertime. In time, your family will start to come on board and will be healthier because of you.

After all… no one ever said it would be easy, right?