July 29, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

Get Your Family on Board!

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Healthy Eating for Beginners

Guest Post by Renee’ Degroot

Moving from a desire to eat more healthfully—to actually implementing that in a hungry household—can be a challenge. My family made changes gradually as I was growing up, many times by my own instigation, and I didn’t always approach it in the best way. So that experience, as well as observing and advising other families, has led me to think of a few ideas which may be of use. I’ll stay away from discussing specific foods other than for examples, since I have done that extensively elsewhere.

Make a Plan

An important step in getting family members to accept a new diet is to have a plan. Base it on some knowledge of nutrition so that you know what your objective is, though it can he expanded as you gain more knowledge. Distinct goals could be something like eating a serving of green vegetables with every meal, or eliminating soft drink consumption. Share your intentions with the whole family, and tell them why. You could introduce the concepts of taking care of our bodies for God’s service, of stewarding the earth, and of benefiting future generations. I wrote my book about many such reasons, but those are the main ones that could encourage your family to agree that your diet needs to be and will now be purposeful.

WIN A COPY of Health for Godly Generations: A Reformational Perspective!

To enter the drawing, post a comment describing why you need this book; or offer your own tips for transitioning families to healthier eating! Two names will be drawn on Monday, August 1, 2011.

Implement Your Plan

  • Don’t try to change everything at once or you might have mutiny on your hands! If you eat dessert every night but your goal is once a week, don’t do it all at once. Gradually substitute sugary treats with baked fruit, or watermelon, or organic dark chocolate, or whole grain-and-honey cookies—and still have a little bit until everyone gets used to the changes.
  • If you take something away, provide an alternative at least for a while. If a family member loves root beer, get organic all-natural root beer for them until they hopefully notice that they shouldn’t have it all the time and start to prefer water and unsweetened beverages. Also, keep enough healthy snacks prepared and on hand, because snacks are often a main culprit of unhealthy eating. Provide alternative snacks so that nobody walks around hungry—lest they get frustrated with the new eating program.
  • On the other hand, if something is a favorite and its substitute is much opposed, it may be easiest to reduce its use before replacing it. For instance, if hearty whole-grain bread is having a hard time getting accepted, try other types of lunches (potato salad, bean salad, rice salad, etc.) for a while and rely less intensively on bread for a while.
  • Continually make your new goals interesting and special by trying a new type of tropical fruit, a new flavor of artisan cheese, a new market for shopping, or a new cookbook. Make it educational for your children by going to a farmers’ market together, visiting a farm where you’ll buy eggs, or trying a new kitchen technique like making yogurt or canning applesauce. Children tend to love anything they are involved with, so let them plant some vegetables, help with meal preparation, and invent new recipes.
  • Figure out the natural foods that everybody likes, and use them in many ways. If everyone loves apples, use apples in green salad, use apples in oatmeal, and use apples in quesadillas. If children can look for the foods they like, it can help them get accustomed to new preparations.
  • Gather an arsenal of tools (such as books and appliances) so you feel equipped and not overwhelmed when you are ready to try something new. Make enough time for cooking from scratch, or you may get discouraged when your whole-food cooking takes longer than it did when you mixed three convenience foods together for dinner. Take extra effort to make it tasty, so “healthy food” will not get a bad reputation. Add rich flavor with butter, sea salt, herbs, spices, and homemade sauces. Your family will appreciate the loving attention you show as you take time to prepare food and as you show a willingness to learn new things in order to nourish them better.
  • I know I mentioned sharing your goals with the whole family, but there are some details that are practical for just the cook or the parents to know. Start to use alternative, healthier ingredients, and if it tastes good, don’t make a big deal about the fact that it is different. For instance, let the family get used to some of the many available flavors of all-natural chicken sausages, rather than making a disappointing pronouncement that they won’t be having conventional pork sausage any more—or whatever the particular scenario happens to be. Don’t make a big deal about flaxseed in the muffins or protein powder in the smoothies; just do it little by little.
  • Once the food you have selected is on the table, “be the parent” to young children. You know best and you have the authority over their protests against eating broccoli or whatever it is (with appropriate charity, of course.) The younger they are started on nutritious food, the easier it will be later on. I know two-year-olds that willingly take fermented cod liver oil (which, by the way, is extremely bitter), because they don’t know any differently. I have read stories on some favorite blogs about young children who ask for brussels sprouts at the grocery store, and who decline doughnuts offered at parties! They have been taught carefully.
  • Also, it helps to speak well of good food and never make it sound unappetizing in front of your children. Having talked through decisions as a family, and having your husband’s leadership, support, and involvement to the extent possible, will make great strides toward getting your children on board with the new plan.
  • Be enthusiastic about cooking healthfully, yourself—as the cook. Mothers really set the tone and their attitudes are contagious. Be thankful for good food, and believe in its value. Don’t act like it is a punishment or a chore to eat healthfully!
  • Find someone to be accountable to, either a friend at the same stage as you are and with children of the same age, or a mentor who is a couple steps ahead in the healthy-food journey. Try new things together, compare notes, and ask each other’s advice.
  • One way to make whole-food cooking easier in a busy household is to develop a favorite meal list so that you always have ideas and corresponding ingredients. Either combined with that idea or aside from it, you can prepare many foods ahead of time so that cooking, especially for lunches or snacking, is quick and simple. Wash and tear enough lettuce for several salads. Chop vegetables that can be added to salads or omelets or eaten as snacks. Cook plain rice or beans, enough for several meals, and add different vegetables and seasonings and dressings to them each time. Cook ground beef with tomatoes and onions and make a stew with it one night, and serve it over polenta the next night. Even when it is only myself at home, I like to cook enough all at once to last for several days, since that is easier than taking time to cook before each meal.

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Have Patience

Know that it will take time to switch over everything in your pantry. It may take time to give up favorite junk foods. (Actually, numerous men have told me that it is easier for them to stop junk food “cold-turkey” than it is to have it infrequently. I think it is often women who have a harder time letting go of junk food all at once.) However, it can still take time to truly prefer the superior taste of fresh, whole foods over the artificial taste of processed foods. Be patient with yourself and keep making steps in the right direction, faithfully and gradually.

Some dietary changes will be more of a mental commitment as you seek to break habits and addictions, while other changes may require more dedication from your pocketbook as you seek to budget for higher-quality foods. Ultimately, if changing your diet is important enough, and if you start with a food philosophy and a plan, you will be able to make it happen. Just do the next thing and pretty soon you and your family will be able to look back and see progress. Just do the next thing and pretty soon you will notice that you like nutritious foods the best of all, and like them better than you ever imagined.

I hope a few of these ideas will provide some encouragement for getting your family to eat healthfully. If you take careful steps, and do it with unity and optimism, there is no reason why you won’t be well on your way to having nourishing meals on the table—meals that are enjoyed by the whole family. Best wishes in your pursuit of wellness for God’s glory!

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Renée DeGroot is a homeschool graduate with a Certificate in Christian Education, and is pursuing certification as a Biblical Health Coach and Nutrition Consultant. Everything she studies continually points to the wisdom of the Creator and the sufficiency of His provision. After pondering creation from the viewpoint of theology and philosophy, she is eager to dig even deeper into researching the intricacies and usefulness of nutrition science. Montana’s Big Sky Country is the setting in which Renée loves to evaluate nature and culture—and their cultivation in her garden, kitchen, and studio.

Visit Renee’ at Health for Godly Generations

Order healthy coconut products, hemp, and chia superfoods by clicking the image below:

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32 Responses to “Get Your Family on Board!”

  1. Please enter me into the drawing for this wonderful resource! My husband is diabetic, I need to lose weight and get healthy, and our boys seem to have sensitivities that affect their behavior. I am just starting to learn about how we need to be eating…and we are learning to surrender our eating to the Lord. Finding a resource that goes along with Scripture would be such a blessing! We could use it in our new homeschooling time, family Bible study time, and in the kitchen! Please consider our entry!

    God bless you for this ministry!

    Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

  2. OH! What a wonderful post! Thank you! I have been wanting to purchase this book since I first saw it. What a blessing it would be to win!

    I really appreciated all of the suggestions. Thank you!


  3. Ann Marie says:

    I already own this book, but I’d love to win one to be able to share with someone from church.

    My tip would be to start slow… change one thing at a time. Don’t try to change everything about your families diet in one day.

  4. Janet says:

    Please enter me into this drawing for the book. I have diabetes and am committed to regaining my health and the health of my family and grandchildren. It would be wonderful to fully get the family on board!!! This book would be a great blessing to us.

    For 2-1/2 mos. I’ve been eating organic, gluten-free and only complex (no flour, grains, etc…) carbs. The family is slowly making some changes as well…..since I am the cook:)

    thank you,

  5. Elise says:

    I would just like to let every one know what an awesome mom I have. She has been working on changing our diet and making healthier for a while now, and I’d have to say we all weren’t exsactly too happy about it. But she’s stuck with it and since my Dads heart attack she has kept us on an even stricter diet. She has stuck with it and doesn’t get discouraged even if my grandparents don’t go along with it. (they’re visiting for the summer) I have a great mom! :)

  6. I would love to be entered into this drawing! I have been wanting to have a copy of this book as I’ve heard nothing but wonderful reviews! My family impleneted an all-natural/organic diet last year and it has benefited us greatly, but there are times where I need encouragement and new ideas as to how to get even better at feeding my family in healthy ways. I want to honor the Lord by caring and nurturing my family by making their health a priotrity as I seek to be a good steward of all the Lord blesses me with.

    Crystal <

  7. Dana says:

    i would love to bless my family with healthy habits…

  8. Lori says:

    Health is so important. Life is no fun when you are sick. I wrote a poem about a healthy immune system:


    Our immune system is what fights disease and keeps us well. We definitely have to be proactive in this day and age!

  9. Tamara (AK) says:

    Getting your children involved is definitely helpful whether it’s growing some of the food or cooking it. They are more excited about eating foods that are healthy if they’ve had a hand in it some way.

    Sounds like a good book – thanks for offering it!

  10. Mrs. A says:

    I would like to be entered into the drawing because I really want to find out creative ways to make and introduce healthier foods to my picky family. I want healthy eating to be a legacy in our home for generations to come. Mother in law is dieing from eating unhealthy her whole life and husband tries to fight off eating habits learned growing up. My children are picky but if I let the veggies be the first entre and withhold the rest of the meal they usually eat, but I have to do it when they are hungry.

  11. I’ve had my eye on this book since I first saw it in the VF catalog last fall. We have made lots of changes in our diet in the last several years, but there are still many that need to change. Would love to add this book to my resources.

  12. Rebecca Anne Calvert says:

    I would love to have this book. We have always studied nutrition and tried to put nutritious food on the table. My kids did not have “junk food” until they were older. It is very hard to keep the youth culture from swallowing them up with fast food and silly fads. They have done pretty well, but are slipping into fast food a little. It is a full time job keep four teenage boys and two elementary age kids fed.

  13. Elisabet says:

    That is a great looking book, and I would LOVE to win copy!

    A great post also with some very useful information.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Please enter me for this drawing! I would love to win the book and learn more about healthy eating. I’ve been making changes slowly over the last couple of years, but there is still so much more I need to learn.

  15. I’d love to win a copy! I do struggle with transitioning to eating and feeding my family meals that are healthy, I’m sure this resource is quite helpful!

  16. Espi Candler says:

    This would be a great book for our family, I have been overwhelmed with the fact of how to implement some of these changes in our family. I need something to just get me started in the right direction!

  17. Julie says:

    I would love to read this book; I’ve wondered about buying it for myself as it looks very informative. Thanks for the article on your blog and for the book giveaway.

  18. Jennifer says:

    I would definitely be interested in reading this book so that I can help my family to eat more healthy, nutritious food. We all struggle with eating too many sweets.

  19. dessi says:

    I would love to have this book .I am trying very hard to eat and cook healthy for my family.But I got very disappointed with the books I have because they all tell a very different things like -1 eat raw food only,2 do not eat protein more than once a day,3 eat protein with every meal,4 no meat at all,5 become a vegan ,milk is good drink 3 cups a day,6 don’t drink milk at all….and the list can go on and on.. but they all promise a better health. and now I am in a very confused state .I don’t know any more what is the right way and what means to eat healthy.So i wold love to have a copy it will be a blessing for us all.Thank you very much .

  20. Kelly says:

    What a blessing it would be to win this book. I’m a single, homeschooling mother of 3. For years I’ve been wanting to make changes, and have been completely overwhelmed. I am very overweight, and know that I need to get healthy to be here for my children. Not only that, but to teach my children the best way to take care of their bodies. This would book would be such a resource and help for us. Thanks.

  21. Beckye Estill says:

    As a breast cancer survivor, I attended a nutrition class for cancer survivors in our area. I learned how nutrition can help prevent disease or recurrence, and implemented a new diet at home to help my family eat more healthily as well as myself. I will begin teaching the material to other cancer survivors this fall. I have shared the nutrition info with my daughter, 20, and son, 23, but my son is still resistant to change. I appreciate your suggestions above and would love your book as well! So glad to find your site! Thank you.


  22. I would really like this book! We are on the path to eating healthier foods (even though I think we do pretty good!) I like to continue to educate myself on taking care of my family’s needs. :)

  23. Alisha says:

    My husband and I are very interested in healthy eating. He and my oldest son have lots of allergy problems, so we’re always looking for healthy ways to eat to see if can avoid the allergy symptoms.

  24. Linda says:

    I’d love to get a copy of this book. We’ve made lots of changes nutritionally, but it’s time to make further improvements. I’m looking forward to reading a nutrition book from a reformational perspective.

  25. Melissa M. says:

    I need this book because I love junk food, especially sweets.

  26. Krista Young says:

    I’d love to get a copy of this book to be continually gathering ideas for my own family on eating healthier!

  27. Judy says:

    I have been wanting this book so would love to win a copy! Thank you for the drawing!

  28. Allie says:

    My family is transitioning to whole food & traditional food diet so I would love to have a Godly perspective on healthy eating. :)

  29. Sharon Frisch says:

    I have been trying to change our diets, but always seem to fall short. This book would be a wonderful resource to have!

  30. Kathy says:

    Need to encourage my husband to eat healthier. His dad had a heart attack so I’m concerned it runs in family. Thanks.

  31. Stacy McDonald says:

    Dana and Kelly are our winners! Thank you to Renee’ Degroot for her generous offer!

  32. Kelly says:

    I’m so excited!!!! Thank you Stacy and Renee’. I can’t wait for my book to arrive!.

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