It’s painful to watch loved ones suffering with chronic health problems, such as food intolerances, headaches, allergies, digestive pain and menstrual issues. We wish there was something we could do to help.
Unfortunately, when we do have ideas about what may help our loved ones experience better health, they don’t want to make changes. The list of reasons is endless: they don’t believe in the power of real food; they think change is too difficult or too expensive; or they simply don’t like to be told what to do. So they just keep on going with the destructive habits and choices that fuel their illness.
It is especially difficult when the knowledge you have to share comes from your own experience. Many of us in The Alternative Daily community have found relief from chronic illness along with increased vitality and well-being beyond what we could have ever imagined thanks to a holistic lifestyle based on real food. It’s natural to want to share this simple and all-encompassing solution with our loved ones to aid with the daily discomforts they experience.
It can also be challenging when your kids or spouse do not wish to participate in your healthy choices. This can be an inconvenience, buying and preparing many different foods, and might also encourage you to fall off the wagon. As much as you might want them to get on board, spending time trying to convince them is probably just going to leave you frustrated.
If you want to gently guide your friends and family toward better choices without seeming preachy, judgmental or nagging, here are some inoffensive and strategic ideas where everyone wins!
Show them the science. Everyone knows we “should eat healthy,” but when it seems like a burden with unclear benefits, why do it? On the other hand, if you present some succinct scientifically backed arguments, such as the opportunity to avoid any number of diseases, discomforts, and even an early death, they will be a lot less likely to say no to those healthy changes. Documentaries such as Food, Inc. or In Defense of Food might be good eye-openers too.
Don’t tell them you’re making changes. If it’s your spouse or kids you’re trying to “convert,” there might be an easy way to do it. Are you the one shopping and/or cooking? If so, don’t tell them that anything is changing! Simply start by making familiar recipes with better ingredients, like grass-fed steak with baked locally grown potatoes. Also buy improved brands of familiar products, like organic Greek yogurt or peanut butter without any additives.
Explain and demonstrate the “new rules” of healthy food. Many people still think that eating healthy means steamed vegetables and dry chicken breast with no salt, fat or flavor. Be liberal in gabbing about all the delicious coconut oil and grass-fed butter that you eat, and show off your herb-crusted fish fillet or curried cauliflower! Fat is no longer something to be feared, but this concept is taking time to trickle through to the general public — be a spokesperson! If you bring healthy, colorful food that looks (and tastes) delicious to your girls wine night or family potluck, be sure to express pleasure when you eat it. After everyone chows down and loves it, talk about all of the amazing whole-food ingredients you used. It’s sure to peak curiosity, which is a great impetus for change.
Blow their minds with new experiences. Carrying on from the previous point, a great way to get someone to eat healthier is simply by piquing their interest in food itself. If someone is used to shoving frozen fries and soggy fish sticks down their throat, it might be because they’ve simply never had any enlightening foodie experiences. Try taking them on a trip to a farmers’ market to sample local goodies, or cook up a delicious recipe with new colors and flavors. Bring home some interesting ethnic food to eat with your hands, or watch a travel-oriented cooking show. This might help convince a chronic junk-food eater that healthy food can taste amazing, and it might just ignite that spark of appreciation for good, whole, nutritious food!
Flaunt other benefits. Eating healthily just for the sake of it might not be very attractive to some people. But what about weight loss? If you can show how you dropped 10 pounds and lost your muffin top and bingo wings by eating grass-fed beef burgers with guacamole and roasted sweet potato fries, that healthy food might just start looking more appealing.
Now it’s time to get creative and find those little cues that might inspire your recalcitrant naysayers. Just keep trying, in small and loving ways. If nothing else, lead by example! Eventually those around you will feel inspired by your glowing health.
—The Alternative Daily