July 29, 2011 by Stacy McDonald
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.
Order good quality, delicious coconut oil by clicking this link:
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!
Click HERE to sign up for Renee’s newsletter!
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: