Wouldn’t it be nice if your husband, children, and any other loved ones living with you were super-excited about eating more veggies and whole grains? What if they thanked you profusely for saving money and boosting their health by never buying sodas, cakes, or potato chips again? While most family members want to be supportive of your weight-loss goals, they may be less than pleased to find out that changes in the kitchen to help with your diet affect them, too. Here’s how to get your family onboard, even if they’re not dieting.
The Family Kitchen: Enlist Support That Benefits Everyone
“Most of the time, family members are quite supportive, especially if the patient has a medical diagnosis,” says Cynthia Wu, PhD, RD, clinical dietitian at Ohio State University Medical Center. “If the family is not onboard with the dietary changes, it does pose significant challenges to your weight-loss effort.”
To demonstrate how family support will help everyone, share this research:
“Convey the changes as a way of improving overall health for the family rather than merely a way for you to lose weight,” says Wu.
One way to get family members’ buy-in is to invite them to meet with any of your doctors, dietitians, or trainers, who can speak to them about why the changes you are making are important.
Many dieters have to become expert cooks and food managers out of necessity. Most of the changes you make to the kitchen — the heart of your home — will benefit everybody, even if they don’t realize it yet. Here are subtle strategies that will help your diet as they improve your family’s health:
The Family Kitchen: Solutions for Diet Sabotage
One of the reasons family members react badly to diet changes is the fear of never having their favorite treats again. In the worst-case scenario, your loved ones may consciously or unconsciously sabotage your efforts by bringing foods that weaken your resolve into the house or asking you to cook and serve fattening favorites.
There are many ways to handle this, but Wu prefers a velvet-glove approach. “You may need to be a little creative in your tactics. You can make some ingredient changes to their favorite dishes,” says Wu.
Learning about healthy substitutions may make it possible to give them the comfort foods they crave with less fat, sugar, and salt. Examples of ingredient changes include:
“This way, they still get to enjoy their favorite foods, but a healthier version of them,” says Wu.
Of course, if sabotage extends to hurtful statements or insults, family therapy might be needed to get everyone on track. Remember, the changes you are making for your health are necessary. Your family’s support will be invaluable, even if it takes a little creativity to secure it.