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,
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?