I’ll admit that there are days when I don’t focus as carefully on every bite my family eats. But I do know that I want them to make healthier choices overall. I find my job actually starts when I fill both the pantry and refrigerator.
The challenge becomes even bigger when my family resists the changes that I begin to incorporate. “Aw, Mom! Are you on a diet again? Why do we have to do it too?” It occurred to me that was a signal that my eating habits were generally poor rather than good.
When my children were very young I made everything from scratch. I baked bread twice a week, canned produce from our garden and from the fruit trees of nearby friends. Then school started, time became a problem and I caved. One day I bought a box of the blue macaroni and cheese and I couldn’t believe how much they raved over it.
Eventually I began to realize that food companies are more interested in tempting our children to eat their products rather than promoting healthy eating. So, it became my job to tempt them back.
I have seen how tough life can be when we don’t consistently make healthy choices. My kids don’t understand that a lifetime of poor food choices leads to a life of sickness, obesity, heart disease, and cardiac issues. They don’t understand how important it is to fuel their bodies with optimal fuel. It’s your job to help them understand that.
So, rather than insisting that they eat what I eat, I make the food I prefer to eat look, smell, and taste wonderful. If they would like a taste, I let them have a taste. And I explain to them how much better I feel when I make better food choices.
Persuasion works so much better when you lead by example, not by preaching or commanding.
I also allow my kids to see me have a treat every once in a while, demonstrating that moderation is a choice.
As they begin to become more interested in some of my food choices, I ask them to share with me what their favorite meals are. Then we talk about ways to make them a little healthier so that I can eat them too. In this way, it is more of a give and take.
Now when we shop for groceries, we have conversations about the food we buy. We determine if it is a treat for one or two people or if it will be able to feed our whole family. I was very pleased to find that my children had a lot of empathy for my decision and they began to show immense support for my decision to get healthier.
I never make them feel that I judge their food choices any more than I want them judging mine. But I have noticed that overall, we’re all making better food choices. It’s all about communication and being willing to make the change a process.