You are ready to make healthy changes, or maybe you already have, but the people around you aren't quite ready to take the plunge. That can be very stressful. At first, you feel guilty because everyone around you makes it seem like their life has been turned upside down. Secondly, change involves transition and setting up new routines which affect you and your loved ones and can cause some initial tension. I get it, trust me! The culture of food is very social. When people congregate, it typically involves food, which is problematic when you're trying to clean up your act. This isn't my first food rodeo, I have 4.5 years of professional experience :) Here are some tips:
1. Remember that self-care is a gift to yourself and those around you. When you are healthier in mind, body and spirit, you become a better, wife, mother, husband, partner, child, adult, friend, etc. We spend a lot of money on our external appearance; hair, makeup, nails, clothes etc. What have you invested in your internal well being?
2. You are responsible for YOUR choices. Don't let the excuse that "my family isn't doing it" stop you from making positive changes.
You are NOT responsible for the choices of others. If your partner isn't ready to join in, let it go. They may or may not come around. If they do, fantastic. If not, we are all on our own journey and people have to be 100% committed for it to stick. When it is time to cook, I verbalize the intended meal and find out if anyone is interested in partaking. If so, I will make enough for everyone. If not, that is fine too, however; you make your own meal. I am busy, just like the rest of you and I don't have time to cook for myself and cater to the people around me. I love them and happy to cook for them, however, I am also not a restaurant. Stop making special orders for your family. They either eat what you cook, or they figure it out themselves. Now I will add extra hot sauce or something really simple to a meal, that I can do! As long as it doesn't require two separate pans, I am in!
At a certain age, they are able to make themselves breakfast and pack their lunch for school. Although doing those things for your children is an act of love and generosity, as parents we are also trying to prepare them for life outside your home. You will also appreciate the time you get back to focus on other things. As a high school counselor, I was shocked how dependent students were on their parents/guardian. I kept thinking how these 'about to graduate seniors' were going to go a day alone without someone catering to their basic needs. This is a great time to let them practice food preparation for when you are not around every day. If you are worried about them packing healthy items, don't buy anything you wouldn't want them to eat!
Children are more complicated when it comes to eating. You can't exactly tell your 6-year-old to hit the stove when they refuse to eat their vegetables. When I was 24, I nannied for three different families in Utah during the day and attended classes in the evening. I remember one of my kids being a picky eater...meaning he didn't like eating vegetables. He was all about the carbs and sugar. At first, I gave into the meltdowns because I couldn't take any more screaming. However, I remember their mom telling me that, "look, the kid won't starve, when he is eventually hungry, he will eat." I remember our first confrontation when the meltdown started, he knew at some point I would give in and take the veggies away. This time I painfully waited it out and finally said, "look, this is what you have for lunch, you either eat it, or you wait for dinner." After another round of tears, he gave me the stink eye and started eating. I was shocked. We never had a problem from that day forward. Unless a food allergy or intolerance is at play, meal time is a great opportunity to focus on what I call food gratuity. An article written in the Denver Post offered a startling statistic, "Unfortunately, for over 13 million kids in this country, going to school hungry is the norm. One in five children in the United States live in food insecure households, which means they lack consistent access to enough food." So the next time your kid refuses to eat your hard cooked meal, what a great learning opportunity. Instead of an eye roll and no thank you, how about a "hey thanks for making me dinner, I really appreciate it?"
Food is not just a social activity, it is part of our survival. We have to eat to live. Because of that, food is a common source of stress, especially when unhealthier options are readily available and cheaper. The above suggestions are merely that, advice. I know many of you are thinking, "yeah that is easier said than done." All families are different and not every kid is going to magically eat whatever you place in front of them just because you refuse to feed them until they do :) I get that! If the above doesn't work, keep trying different things.
The most important take away today is that YOU, are responsible for YOUR decisions. Your partner or kids are not keeping you away from making healthy changes, you are! By modeling this type of behavior, you are setting positive example to others. Most importantly you are setting a great example for yourself!
Stay tuned for more advice on food. I even traveled to Costa Rica for 2 weeks on a very limited diet!