One of the biggest challenges to eating healthy is a lack of support. If you’re embarking on diet changes for the New Year, you might know exactly what I’m talking about.
Maybe your loved ones are actively sabotaging your progress, or maybe they’re just not as supportive as you’d like. Whether it’s a spouse, children, or friends, it can deflate your motivation and set you on a path to failure.
So what do you do when your loved ones aren’t on board with your healthy eating goals…and may never be on board?
Here are a few tips to try.
1. Lovingly communicate your goals.
The most important word here is “lovingly.” 🙂 Food choices can be very personal, so chances are your loved ones will get defensive. This can manifest itself through criticism, anger, or sarcasm.
If you anticipate this type of reaction from your loved one, spend time beforehand writing down the main thoughts you want to share. Quantify your goals. Not just what you want to accomplish, but why. Share with them the steps you want to take to get there.
KEEP THE FOCUS ON YOURSELF and what you’re working toward, rather than on the other person and what they’re doing wrong.
2. Be willing to compromise.
Don’t compromise your goals, but do be willing to compromise when it comes to forcing your goals on your loved ones. In your discussion above, ask if they’re willing to participate in any of your goals. If not, where are they willing to meet you halfway?
Here’s an example you could use with an ice-cream loving spouse (speaking from personal experience). 🙂
“I know you like ice cream and aren’t ready to get rid of it. But having it in the freezer makes it extremely hard for me to stick to my goals. Would you be willing to compromise and agree to go out for ice cream with the kids when you go to the park, so we can keep the ice cream out of the freezer for a while? I wish I had better self-control, but I just don’t right now.”
See how you keep the focus on yourself, admitting you don’t have good self-control? You also acknowledge that they may not be ready for the same changes, but you give them freedom to continue eating a treat they enjoy.
3. Adjust meal plans for multiple palates.
This can be the hardest part of changing your diet — figuring out what to cook. Anyone ever cooked three meals — one for themselves, one for their spouse, and one for the kids? It’s exhausting and will lead to burnout.
You might choose to do this on occasion, but a better strategy is to think about overall meal themes that can be tailored to different eating goals. For example, taco night can be easily adjusted. The husband and kids might eat regular tacos with nachos on the side, while you can build yours into a taco salad…loading up on extra lettuce.
Another idea is to grill meat and veggies and make a batch of mac and cheese on the side. Chances are you and your spouse will eat the meat and veggies as your main dish. Your kids could eat the mac and cheese as their main entree, with veggies on the side.
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide how many eating changes you want to implement with your kids. (That’s another blog post in and of itself.) But just think about your goals ahead of time and the compromises you’re willing to make. That will guide you in knowing how to tailor your meal plans.
4. Find a healthy community of support.
While your loved ones are adjusting to your goals, seek out friends who are working toward similar goals and can keep you on track. Be careful that these friends provide positive support and won’t add negativity to your home situation. (It’s a tricky balance!)
Check out a local gym or church, or form a support group among your friends. Staying accountable will be extra helpful when you’re lacking support at home.
5. No matter what, continue to show RESPECT.
If you follow the previous tips, your loved ones may come around and be willing to compromise a little more…then a little more…until you’re working toward the same goals. That sounds like a dream come true, right?
But what if they don’t come around? What if they continue to criticize or sabotage?
As hard as it is, keep showing them respect. Oftentimes, faithfully sticking to your goals in a quiet, respectful manner will speak more than words ever could.
When your loved ones criticize, they’re often watching closely to see if you’ll slip up. Prove to them day in and day out through your actions that you’re serious and committed. If needed, revisit those conversations you had in Tip #1 and communicate where you’re at.
Above all, stay the course.
It isn’t easy to reach your goals when you feel alone. But by communicating, thinking outside the box, and continuing to respect your loved ones, you CAN achieve success.
Family table photo by CHOReograPH/BigStock.com