Reader Q&A: How Do I Get My Family To Eat Healthy?

How do I get my family to eat healthy?

Reader Melissa A. sent me an email asking a question that I think most mothers and wives face: How do I get my family to eat healthy?  See what she had to say.

I am on a path to start eating clean but I am having trouble getting my husband and children on board. 

My children are 2 and 3 and would not eat/throw a tantrum for hours if they don’t get their standard terrible toddler food (hot dogs, crackers, tons of sugar loaded processed foods).   I’ve actually tried for over a year to correct their menu just to throw it away in the trash every time.  Since I’m the grocery shopper in the house I have tried to reduce their intake where I can, improving the amounts they receive. 

Our biggest challenge is that my husband feeds them 5 out of 7 dinners as I work an hour away.  He’s not much of a cook/leftovers guy so they almost always eat Take and bake pizza or corn dog nuggets on a daily basis. 

Any words of wisdom?

Thanks so much,
Melissa A.

I know exactly how you feel.  While Ava has always had fairly good eating habits, Tony has not.  My husband had what I considered to be the “typical American diet”.  He is a lover of  meat, fried things, and anything containing the ingredient “partially hydrogenated oil”.

When I started this clean eating journey, he thought I was totally nuts.  He didn’t understand why I didn’t want to eat meat, or that I didn’t want our daughter eating Doritos.  I continued to do what I knew was right.

Tony’s eating habits are changing.

If you ask him, he may still tell you that my eating habits are a little strange, but I know he hears what I’m saying.  I realized that I had gotten through to him when I heard through the grapevine that he got on to someone who was trying to give our daughter excessive amounts of candy.  He explained to the person that we (yes, he said WE!) choose not to give junk like that to Ava and even though I wasn’t there, we stand together (together!!!) on our decision.  He was listening all along!  He made me proud!

So what did I do to get through to him?

In the beginning, I led by example.  I knew he would never just jump on board.  Like most men (sorry guys), I needed to let him decide that it was his idea.  Even though he thought it was all crazy, I ate healthy.  I also explained to him why I was eating the way I was.  Once the weight started falling off, I think he started to notice that it wasn’t a bunch of nonsensical hippie talk.   What I was doing made perfect sense, and he noticed!

I wasn’t above trickery.

I admit it, I tricked my family more than a few times.  (And I still do!)  I got crafty with the whole wheat and whole grains.  I learned how to add veggies into meals so that they wouldn’t  notice.

Don’t fight against them.

Although Ava is a fairly good eater, I know a little girl who sounds just like Melissa’s kids.  She only eats chicken nuggets (frozen or from McDonald’s), cookies, and a few other unhealthy items.  Her parents continued to feed her these things for fear of her being hungry.  Start by offering your children healthy options along with their favorites.  Slowly (over a few weeks) remove the unhealthy options from their diet.  They will probably protest, but if they are truly hungry, they will eat the healthy options.  If they won’t eat the healthy foods, set them aside for later when they are hungry again.  When they are hungry, they will eat.

Get your children involved!

Children who help grow or prepare their meals are more likely to try new things.  Start a small garden and let them grow new veggies to try.  Invite them into the kitchen.  Not only will your child be more likely to try new foods, but you will be bonding with them and building their self-esteem.

Prep your meals.

If you are not the one who cooks most of the meals, prep easy and healthy meals ahead of time.  Here I talked about prep being one of the three “P’s”.  If you can’t be home to cook a healthy meal, try doing once-a-month cooking.  Make and freeze healthy, clean meals that your spouse or kids can heat up.  If it’s just as easy as a frozen pizza, they just might cook it.

Getting your family to eat clean (or just somewhat healthy for that matter) is not going to happen over night.  Just remember to stay positive and lead by example.

Do you have any advice for Melissa or anyone else dealing with a picky family?

nopin

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Eating Clean When You Don’t Have Time

While visiting my mom in Florida, her biggest complaint about eating clean was that she doesn’t have time.  I will be the first to admit, eating clean can be a bit time-consuming if you want it to be.

Tips for Eating Clean

But it doesn’t have to be!

  • Plan ahead!  This truly is key if you are busy.  You MUST sit down and plan out your meals for the week.  How will you eat clean if you have no clean meals planned? Your refrigerator will probably be empty too.  This goes hand-in-hand with the next step.
  • Prep!  Take an hour or two on Sunday afternoon to prep your food for the week.  Bake bread, cook beans, wash and cut fruits and veggies.  Make your good food your fast food.
  • Bread.  I have yet to find a commercially baked bread that I deem “clean”.  You’re probably thinking to yourself, “bread from scratch takes forever.”  Wrong!  Baking bread really only takes 30+ minutes of active work.  The key word here is ACTIVE.  Most of the time the bread is rising or baking.  Start with a simple whole wheat recipe.  You may be surprised to find that you actually enjoy baking.
  • Beans.  I’m a huge fan of beans. And while you can buy canned beans, I’m not a fan of all the added salt or the BPA-lined can.  I prefer to soak and cook my own beans.  Soak your beans overnight, then cook the next day.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find that beans don’t take all day to cook.  I can cook a pot of black beans about an hour.  The best part is that you can turn them on and walk away.  I’ve also cooked them in a crock pot.
  • Make a double batch.  If you are making soup or a casserole one night for dinner, prep a double batch and freeze it.  You can also cook a little extra and have enough for lunch the next day.

Buy Produce

  • Buy clean!  This may seem like a no-brainer, but only buy clean food.  If you buy junk, you’re going to eat junk.  Buy loads of fresh, seasonal produce!  If it’s there, you will eat it.
  • Create you own convenience foods.  If your family is stuck eating frozen meals from the grocery store, try creating clean freezer meals.  Spend a day freezing healthy meals that will feed your family for the entire week (or month, if you’re brave).  You don’t have to freeze complete meals either.  Below I have (from left to right) a rice mixture (brown & wild rice, black beans, corn, cilantro, and spices), cooked black beans, and sliced sweet peppers (which I saved here).  The rice and beans are both fully cooked and can easily be warmed or incorporated into a meal.  The peppers are ready to be tossed into stir-fry, or chopped into your morning eggs!

Clean Convenience Foods

  • Watch out for store-bought convenience foods.  There is so much hidden junk in prepared foods.  That being said, there are a few clean packaged foods. Look for organic items, they are a good place to start. (Think condiments to start off.)  But don’t be fooled, everything labeled organic is NOT automatically good for you!

Practice the three P’s: Plan, Purchase, and Prep!  If you decide you want to eat clean and make it a priority, it will happen.

Do you have any shortcuts that help you eat clean?

nopin

Reader Q&A: Why Does Food Make Me Feel Horrible?

Why does food make me feel horrible?

I received the following email from reader Brittany E.

I started eating clean about two weeks ago and I have felt great. I haven’t “cheated” other than a peanut nature valley bar due to not having eaten all day and that was about a week ago.

Well yesterday I let myself have a small bowl of red beans and rice and this morning I had one biscuit. Oh my goodness. My body absolutely hates me. Stomach pain, cramps, and even a slight bit of heart burn.

My question for you is did you ever go through this after you started eating better? And if so how did you handle it? I honestly was not having cravings when I ate these things and my sugar addiction is practically broken.

Hope this doesn’t sound crazy!!
Love the blog by the way 🙂

 

First off, thank you so much for taking the time to ask a question.  It means so much to hear from readers.

To answer your question, Yes!  This still happens to me if I eat something undesirable.  I’m guessing that the rice and beans and the biscuit were not homemade.  What is probably making you feel that way is the shortening in the biscuits.  Shortening does the same thing to me, every time.  Here are the ingredients in Crisco straight from their website:

Ingredients:

SOYBEAN OIL, FULLY HYDROGENATED PALM OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM AND SOYBEAN OILS, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID (ANTIOXIDANTS).

In my opinion, shortening is one of the worst things you could possible put in your body.  Unfortunately, that’s what most people use to make their biscuits.  My mom also uses butter flavored Crisco in her Judy’s Almost Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Sad to say, I won’t touch her cookies anymore.  They make me feel HORRIBLE!  It’s exactly what you described, stomach cramps, pain, and heartburn.  So not worth a cookie.

I’m no doctor, but here’s my theory on why this happens after you start eating clean.  When you start eating clean, you are allowing your body to heal.  Your body starts to expect only whole, nutrient rich foods.  What you feel after eating the biscuit is your body’s way of saying, “What were you thinking?  Never again!”  Your body doesn’t know how to process this chemical slurry.

Don’t beat yourself up over it.  Everyone slips up now and then.  Just be prepared for your body’s protest.

If you love red beans and rice and biscuits, it’s okay.  If you make these things at home, you can control what goes into them.  I’ve made very delicious red beans and rice from scratch that even my husband loves.  And we’re from the South, we love our biscuits.  When I make them at home, I use whole wheat flour and coconut oil instead of shortening.  That’s part of this journey, learning to cook all of your favorite foods in a way that’s better for your body.

You’re on the right track.  Being in tune with your body makes a huge difference.  Keep up the good work!

Does anyone else have any helpful information for Brittany?  If you have a question, email us at scacchihouse@yahoo.com.

nopin