Support From Your Family and Friends
“Unquestionably, it’s best to embark on a change in diet as a pair or as a household, but it doesn’t always work out that way.” You could hear that your new diet is getting in the way of them visiting their favorite greasy spoon, or that it’s too expensive, a waste of time and money. You could feel guilty because healthier meals may require more time to prepare to satisfy health needs or personal taste. Sometimes is takes months or even years for your family or friends to see the benefits of healthy eating. As a Health Guardian you know that your diet isn’t a fad, it’s a lifestyle change. You know that eating a healthy diet improves pathology prevention. It’s going to take time for others to get onboard with new lifestyle changes. Keep the lines of communication open, knowing that the adjustments will create tension, both emotionally and financially. Tell them that you would like their help, but that you don't expect them to change their lives for you. If they're willing to make some of the same eating changes as you are, then that's great. But they can still support you even without changing how they eat.
Here are ways the Health Guardian can get help from family and friends. Ask them to:
- Not say negative things about you or what you eat.
- Be positive about your desire to change. Let your family and friends know that you'd like to hear encouraging words from time to time, and that their words and actions are meaningful to you. Hearing how well you are doing with your new eating habits helps you stay with your plan.
- Celebrate with you when you reach your goals. Take a cooking class or go to the movies together. Remind yourself and others that you're successful.
- Help you make healthy food choices. Ask them to encourage you to eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Encourage you when you slip away from your eating plan. A reminder of how well you've done will help you get back on track.
- Respect your new eating habits and not urge you to eat foods that you don't want to eat.
The key is to support each other on this new adventure. Take it slowly and don’t try to change everything in your diet at once. Make compromises by occasionally going to your favorite restaurant, see if there are alternative menu choices that will work for you. Talk to the server and ask them not to put salt on your food, or for the dressing to be on the side, or not buttering your toast. These types of food choices when eating at restaurants, will help you eat healthy and make it possible to enjoy the eating experience with your family and friends.
Here are ways the Health Guardian and their family can team up to help with diet changes, to move towards better pathology prevention:
- Keep to a regular family meal schedule. Families that regularly eat meals together tend to eat healthier foods and be closer to a healthy weight than those who don't.
- You may be able to talk with your family about making some of the same eating changes you are. This may take compromise on everyone's part. It may mean eating less of some foods and more of others.
- If what you eat is different from what your family eats, ask them to eat a meal from your food plan once a week. If they see that this is as tasty as the food they're eating, they may choose to eat more of what you're eating.
- Set up "no food" zones in the house. Make one room food-free. You can use this room to do things that you may have done in the kitchen while eating, such as paying bills or helping the kids with homework. Staying out of the kitchen may help you stay with your eating plan.
- Put away foods that you don't want to eat so that they are out of sight. Ask family members not to leave food on the table when they are finished eating.
- Set up a kitchen or refrigerator shelf that is just for healthy foods that you want to eat. When you're hungry, you'll have several healthy choices.
- Discuss your family routines. If you take the kids out for pizza once a week, could you make a healthier pizza at home instead? Or you could go out to eat but order a salad and other healthy foods with the pizza. This way you can fill up on other foods and eat fewer slices of pizza. See if you can find something you can all agree on.
Other Types of Support
You also can look for support outside of your family and friends.
- Join a healthy-eating class or support group. People in these groups often have some of the same barriers that you have.
- The Internet has many online forums and chat rooms for people who are trying to make changes in food choices. You can read and leave messages and chat online with others for support.
- A local hospital or other health facility may have a wellness center or support groups.
- If part of your plan is to become more active, see if anyone in your exercise class or neighborhood wants to change how they eat.