The hardest part about trying to lose weight is trying to get your carb-loving -fat-loving-sugar-loving family to hold on for the ride. I have watched vegetables welt, and fruit go bad as the last of the bag of chips, or Little Debbie snack cakes get devoured and the complaints of ‘there’s nothing to eat’ be shouted from the kitchen. . and that’s not just my kids, but my husband as well! He believes salads are for rabbits, and any type of chicken is a childhood meal he never wants to eat again. Red meat, potatoes and pasta are his ideal meal and trying to make everyone happy definitely wore on this Mama.
I finally decided instead of making them go cold-turkey that I’d take it one step at a time..with hopes that some healthy eating ways would stick.
Don’t Call it Healthy!
It may be paleo, low-carb, or flexitarian, but try to avoid referring to the menu you’re guiding them toward by name. Sometimes automatically calling a meal ‘healthy’ will turn your kids – and husband – off to even giving it a try to see if it’s good. Just start serving these meals as you would anything else and see what a difference a name makes!
Involve them in Making Healthy Decisions!
No one likes to be forced to do anything, so have a talk with your family about your eating habits and why you’re concerned or want to make certain changes. Ask them what their favorite fruit is, or what veggie they’d like with tonight’s dinner. Most likely if they request it they’ll eat it – even if it’s just to not be responsible for it going bad!
Sneak Veggies into Every Meal
Use puréed cauliflower with a little bit of skim milk to thicken cheese sauce (like in mac n cheese). In addition to significantly cutting fat and calories, cauliflower adds fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and other disease-fighting nutrients to the cheesy meal—and your family won’t even be able to taste it. Add finely chopped mushrooms to bulk up ground beef without added calories in recipes like baked ziti or tacos, and add extra carrots, spinach, onions, and peppers to meatloaf. If your family is really picky, buy a food processer to get the texture so fine, it’s practically non-existent.
Make Simple Swaps
Cutting back on processed foods will help diminish the cravings for sweets and fatty foods. Swap out those processed chocolate chip cookies with homemade alternative cookies made with natural ingredients, fresh fruit verses canned, swap beef sausage for chicken sausage, etc. These simple swaps lead to big ones – and make those much easier to process.
Keep Up Appearances
Kids – and men especially- are very visual. A plate full of salad and a side of meat isn’t going to be nearly as appealing as a bowl with the salad and the meat looking like it takes up the majority of the plate. Don’t cut away sour cream or cheese completely, just don’t let them use the whole bag! Try sprinking the Parmesan cheese on your spouses or kids spaghetti for them – they won’t notice a difference between the 1/4 cup verses a whole cup!
Keep Junk Food OUT OF THE HOUSE!
This one was always a hard one for me – but the saying “out of sight out of mine” does apply (though not always 100% completely!) Not having junk in the house keeps you from eating it, and you find other alternatives to curb your craving. Making sure to always have healthy alternatives will keep the complaints down as well. Always have fruits and veggies, as well as other snacks such as nuts, pretzels and popcorn to avoid a hunger strike!