As summer is fast approaching the time for bikinis-or actually one pieces since they are now in style and way chic-er, cook outs, and crop tops are at hand. With warm weather comes body bearing and food sharing and if you are trying to eat healthy and treat your body and soul like the temple it is, it can be incredibly hard when living with family, roommates or children who don’t see eye to eye when it comes to eating healthy.
So how do you eat healthy when no one else will?
Thanks to the amazing digital health community, myself Angie Santos at Greenbanangirl.com and Sarah Pollard at Sarahpollard.org have partnered to bring you this summer’s must have tips to staying on track and eating healthy when dealing with picky eaters, junk food lovers, significant others and children!
I’m Sarah a newly certified holistic health coach but didn’t always care about my health. If you hung out with me four years ago, you would know that I would visit the drive through often, eat chips nonstop, drink Pepsi, binge on food late in the day because I wouldn’t eat breakfast. I never had a problem with my weight but little did I know that having zero energy and craving sugar at all times wasn’t normal. It wasn’t till 3 months after my second baby where I just didn’t feel like me. My body wasn’t the same, my mood wasn’t the same, and I knew I needed change stat. So I changed my entire life a little at a time. Those habits are hard to break! I now have a picky 3 and 5-year-old and a husband who gets free holistic health advice on how to help his body with food haha!! He loves learning and experimenting with things as well as my clients. Every body is different. You have to experiment to see how it performs best.
I’m Angie and I grew up in a holistic household. My half hippie German mother had spiritual books on the shelves, was raising us on homeopathy (natural medicine) and taught us about the whole body. Instinctively I’ve always eaten healthy but I also went through periods where I hit up the drive thru ‘er day. Instinctively I’ve always eaten healthy but I also went through periods where I hit up the drive thru ‘er day. Living in California really allowed me to embrace my holistic self and become the healthy food tyrant I’ve always known I was. If you’ve read any of my healthy eating blog articles you already know that I had to eat a super healthy nutrient dense diet also known as AIP or the autoimmune protocol when I induced my own alopecia areata and my hair started falling out. After 6 months of the very strict autoimmune boosting diet I took no prisoners and had to develop strategies for eating healthy while the people around me preferred not to AND while eating healthy on the road for four months straight! I would prefer to only have good nutritious foods in my kitchen but I don’t live alone so from us to you enjoy the strategies you can adopt right now in your household to keep you on the healthy eating track.
How do I eat healthy when the people I live with don’t?
Angie: Eat on your own time.
The easiest way to make sure you are eating the meals you want to is to eat them alone. Let go of the traditional idea of breakfast/lunch/dinner times. eating outside the “sit down meal times” takes the pressure off of you and your loved ones from eating when and what you are having. It also makes it easier for you to take care of yourself because you have total food control. This is about building your healthy eating muscle and teaching yourself discipline so when you do sit down at the dinner table not even the potato salad will tempt you! Unless its German potato salad and then that’s a different story…
Angie: Do the shopping.
To quote Janet Jackson “it’s all about control”. When you are in control of the food you are buying ultimately you are in control of the food you are eating. Be in charge of what you buy so you don’t get stuck with eating regular spinach when you know you want to be eating organic spinach. I’ve been stuck with Hellman’s mayo when I was looking for the organic kind with no preservatives. If you aren’t able to always do the shopping check out services like Instacart where you can order whatever you want from Whole Foods and local grocery stores and they will shop for you. This was my life saver last summer.
Angie: Treat your table like the chef’s table.
If you have ever had the fortune of dining at a trendy restaurant you might have been given the chef’s table which is an amazing experience everyone should have at least once in their lives. At the chef’s table you sit there and wait happily while the chef decides what they will make for you. When the meals arrive you cross your fingers hoping it isn’t seafood like I do and either eat it or pretend to. Whoever is at your chef’s table can eat what you are serving. This is a little tyrannical and as Sarah will tell you is probably no fun for children but I am a firm believer in training yourself and your loved ones to eat healthy.
Eating healthy is not a natural state for everyone (anymore) and like everything we become good at we have to practice and learn until it becomes second nature. I have trained myself to eat things that to me are totally gross but incredibly healthy. Do I want to drink collagen smoothies? No actually I don’t. I think they tastes like the crushed up bones they are but I know it’s great for my gut health and I’m growing back some hair so ya I drink them no prob.
How do I eat healthy when my little kids are so very picky?
Sarah: Make eating a positive experience.
You eat what I make, OR ELSE! Just kidding. That’s not my style. It might be some parent’s style but I believe in making eating a positive experience. I know they are not going to eat only chicken nuggets their entire life. It’s just a phase like 98% of everything kids do. This is a constant struggle in my house. My husband and I eat healthy but my kids are a totally different story.
Since I have made healthy eating our lifestyle we have one rule at our table and the kids have to take a bite of something on mine or my husband’s plate.
Just a bite. They know they have to try it and if they don’t like it, they can totally spit it out. We even made a game out of it where they can wear a blindfold (weird but it worked). Most of the time they spit it out but once in a while they will actually like it! For example, we were eating flounder and a salad for dinner and my son actually ended up having fish for his main protein after he tried it!
Yes I do make my kids something else to eat if I can’t modify my healthy dinner to their liking? By modify I mean making their grass-fed ground beef into tacos while I have a taco salad. I make them something different. Now, if they aren’t eating what I’m eating I don’t go above and beyond spending hours in the kitchen being a short order cook. I pick a healthy and organic mac and cheese, a fruit or veggie I KNOW they will eat, and call it a day. Also, when I am meal prepping I make my own chicken nuggets and freeze them. It’s a quick home cooked protein that I know isn’t filled with preservatives and fake meat.
Angie: I totally agree with Sarah on getting her kids to try new foods with the one bite rule. Scientifically a person doesn’t know they like something until the 7th time they’ve tried it. 7 times!!! My sister does the same thing with her kids and turns out why yes my niece DOES like healthy style spinach enchiladas.
Angie: Find the balance.
Following the 80/20 rule was pretty much what I grew up on. I ate what my Mom gave me which was mostly good foods. We ate rice and beans, salads, pepper steak and rice, and then whatever I started to make for myself which was still mostly salads. Sometimes we had Nila wafers or Doritos when my sister forced my mom to buy them but I understood that “junk food” was not an everyday thing. I wasn’t the kid who had cookies everyday for lunch. My Mom gave me enough balance that by the time feeding myself was my job I sought out healthy foods over junk food any day and twelve times on Sunday.
When birthdays come around I make the cakes in my family. Do I sub out the ingredients for organic sugar, flour, butter etc? Of course I do. I also know that not every time is going to be a healthy time and showing up for my niece or nephew’s birthday with a zucchini almond flour cake will likely make them cry and breed secret resentment for me.
Angie: Let them be in charge…in their minds.
Take advantage of the internet! Introduce your kids to cool healthy food bloggers that can introduce them to healthier options. My niece will spend hours watching her favorite foodies online. She loves watching videos of “flat breads and roll thingies” to quote my sister. Let’s be honest even though I’m super healthy and can show the kids a healthier option, it’s not as cool as a cool Youtuber doing it. Let them pick out something to try at home and go to town!
With older kids buying fun healthy foods they can make themselves can take some pressure off you and allow them to stretch their grown up muscles. My niece really does love salads and likes to have her own little toppings she can throw in there. As kids get older they want to do their own thing, food included so get healthy snacks they pick out that you won’t have to worry about. Annie’s Homegrown has really taken kid snacks and turned them into healthier options. Their foods are a great meet in the middle for your family.
Compartmentables are where it’s at. Thanks to billion dollars of branding and psychological research the idea of a “lunchable” is the coolest thing ever to a kid. Get yourself some of those bento box-esque portable storage containers and build them a healthier lunchable option. making food fun is always the way to go with kids.
How do I eat healthy when it’s just me?
Sarah: Make it easy.
Okay so the kids are eating something else and back in the day I would just end up eating the leftovers on their plate and binging on chips and pop later. My husband is a police officer and works most nights, so usually it’s just me having a healthy dinner for one. My secret? Make it easy!! My favorite store in the whole wide world is Costco. Yeah I’m a sucker for very large quantities of food…but GOOD food. They have such an amazing spread of organic food! They have wild caught frozen fish that literally thaws in about a half hour. Pair that with a salad or a bag of frozen organic broccoli (one of my favorite finds at Costco) and you’ve got yourself a home cooked meal in minutes.
Angie: Eat the same foods.
Oh guy’s. While I do love eating healthy, figuring out what I’m going to eat is my kryptonite. I started working in restaurants as a kid probably albeit subconsciously so I would have access to food all the time. My family will verify, me saying “I’m hungry” is terrifying and ultimately frustrating. One of the wonderful things that came out of losing my hair was only being able to eat certain foods. When you can only eat certain foods you mostly eat the same foods. Don’t panic because most people eat 60% of the same meals every week anyway. This isn’t a bad thing.
The only variety I need in my diet is a variety of nutrients.
This was a quiet blessing for me because I never had to figure out what I could eat- I knew I would either eat spinach, lamb, avocado, plantains or spinach, avocado, carrots, chicken with variations of veggies. While I’m not on this diet full-time anymore I still eat pretty much the same way because it’s easier knowing what I like, eating it often, and knowing I’m getting all those yummy nutrients in my system. Know what you want to eat, keep it in your fridge, and make variations of that meal.
How can I make healthy eating easier?
Sarah: Meal prep.
I stay home but most of my mama friends work. You guys are busy. You don’t wanna come home and mess with dinner the entire night, you wanna spend time with those kids before it’s time for bed! Pick a day of the week to do your grocery shopping and prepping. It takes time but it is SO worth it, especially for those working moms.
*Wash and cut all your produce for salads. You can even make mason jar salads (with dressing on the side) for a week of work lunches. Add some chick peas, beans, or chicken to make it hearty!
*Marinate your protein that you are cooking that week. Take your fish or chicken and throw it in a ziplock bag with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, pink salt, pepper, and some garlic and call it a day. You can freeze it or marinate it in the fridge if you are using it within 48 hours.
As much as I would love to just push my healthy ways onto people it’s no fun for them. I have been trying to sub out white potatoes for sweet potatoes for years in my household. It’s not going to happen, honestly. You know what did happen though? Organic dairy (that I don’t eat often), organic meats, organic spinach, no corn syrup in any breads, and ongoing food negotiations. Yes there are two kids of mayo in my house; One full of poisons and one not. Not everyone is like me or you who want to eat healthy because they know the benefits that come from whole foods and dietary control. It’s okay! Ultimately health is a choice and you can’t choose for everyone but if you learned to eat like crap from watching your family then the good news is your family can learn to eat healthy from watching you.
The beauty of helping others to eat healthy is really teaching people to care for themselves in one of if not THE most nurturing of ways. Keep going and don’t give up. Your habits formed over years and years of repetition and getting your family on board will take some time. Good luck!