People constantly ask me how to get kids to get off the junk and eat a whole foods diet. You may not have kids, but you might be feeding a spouse, parents or others who aren't quite as gung-ho about changing their diets. So how do you convince them?
Be a role model. Believe me, I know how hard this can be. I have family members who think this is an amazing way to live and others who aren't afraid to tell me I am nuts. Ironically, those are the ones with the most health problems! The more you share with them, including your kids, the more they will at least appreciate why you are making the change. If they agree to try to eat a whole foods diet for one month, however, I am quite certain they will be more prone to change their diets simply because THEY FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. It won't take much convincing after that.
My top 5 tips for getting others to eat a whole foods diet:
1) STOP BUYING JUNK! Maybe your kids are used to eating chicken fingers, pizza and hot dogs and refuse to eat anything else. Maybe the only vegetable they'll eat are french fries. Or maybe your spouse wants to order in - again. How do you get them to eat better? You serve them better. Kids don't have the ability to buy their own groceries and if you're cooking for someone else, chances are you're the one buying the groceries. If you bring home garbage, that's what they'll eat. If you bring home the good stuff, they may pitch a fit and refuse to eat it, but eventually they WILL get hungry and give in.
2) ALWAYS OFFER SOMETHING THEY DO LIKE. When you are making better choices and experimenting with new recipes or foods, be sure to include one thing (healthy) on their plate that you know they like. Trying my sesame noodle recipe (see Recipes page) and aren't sure if they'll go for snow peas? Put a big slice of watermelon or apple slices on the plate with it (preferably not something processed, fried or sugared) ONLY AFTER THEY'VE COMPLETED #3 BELOW.
3) INSIST THEY MUST EAT 3 BITES OF THE HEALTHY FOOD(S). They don't get to eat the thing they like until they've eaten 3 bites of what they say they don't like. Research shows that it can take up to 5 tries before someone decides that they actually like something they thought they hated (our tastes are constantly changing). If you make the kale salad from my recipes page and the kids whine about it, make them eat 3 bites and then make the same salad in a few weeks, and again several weeks later. Eventually, the kids may like it and if not, they'll get the hint that that recipe is here to stay.
4) COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR LOVED ONES. Tell them why you are doing this and what benefits there are in certain foods. Sure, they'd prefer Chick-Fil-A over Garbanzo Salad (see Recipes page), but if you teach them about the importance of eating food made by God instead of food made in a factory, they'll get it. Educate your spouse or parents about why we are all so sick, overweight and tired. Challenge them to avoid processed and fast foods for a month and see how they feel. All of us, including kids, can correlate how we feel to what we eat. Start listening to your body and teach your loved ones to do the same. If you or they have headaches, stomach aches, sluggishness, energy spikes, lack of focus, moodiness, depression or other things you can pinpoint, think about what you ate before the symptom started and write it down to see if there's a pattern. I'm betting you'll have quite a few "ah-ha" moments.
5) GET THEM INVOLVED. Kids usually love to help out in the kitchen and if you're lucky, your adult loved ones do too (especially if offered a glass of wine!). Ask them to help you chop, squeeze lemons, stir, wash veggies, etc. Make it fun and talk to them about how beautiful the curly kale is, how interesting quinoa is with it's little "tail" that comes out when cooked. Give them lots of options and let them decide what veggie they can put in the salad. Cooking is really a science experiment! When they are involved in the buying and cooking process, they are more willing to try eating their creation. Plus, it's a great time spent together. When you're eating, praise them for what they did to contribute. Talk about how the food tastes, how it feels in the mouth and why everyone likes or dislikes it. Then have everyone note how they feel right after they eat and then a few hours later. Compare that feeling to how they feel after eating processed junk food.
***I want to hear from YOU! Let me know how this is going for you. Make a comment or ask a question on the blog so others can see it. It's not easy changing what we've grown up doing, but it's time we get control over our bodies and teach the next generation how to really take care of their bodies. It's the only ones we've got!