Make Your Diet a Family Effort
Every human being can benefit from making better lifestyle choices, including maintaining a healthful diet or achieving an ideal body weight. Going on a diet however, can be very challenging; this is especially true when you are surrounded by family members who are not very supportive. Even if you’ve firmly decided to shed off all your unwanted pounds, you can be easily derailed by a spouse who loves having trans-fat rich fast food delivered to your home, or a child who constantly munches on sugary snacks.
It’s certainly hard when only one family member tries to change his or her eating habits, and the rest are indifferent. Conversely, reaching your goal becomes much easier when you aim for it together. With this in mind, consider turning your diet into a group effort – ask your family to go into a diet with you.
The success of getting your whole household to go on a collective diet might seem unlikely, but it’s actually quite manageable. With careful planning, information gathering and purposeful conversation, it’s possible to get their support as well as their cooperation.
How to Talk to Your Family About Dieting With You
1. Have clear, specific objectives.
Before you start talking to anyone, it’s important to have a good idea of what you want to happen, as well as what you expect from each family member. It’s important to be specific; it’s typically ineffective to merely say “let’s eat healthier”. You have to define every little change that has to happen, from your grocery list to your menu to your cooking habits.
It may be necessary to do some research or to consult your doctor about certain matters, such as:
- Basic nutrition and what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet
- Recommended daily intake for each family member, based on their age, gender and physical condition
- How to count calories and carbohydrates (click here to learn more about calories)
- Foods have high amounts of trans-fat, sugar, bad cholesterol, and/ or sodium, and which of these your family regularly consumes
- Healthier food alternatives
- Different kinds of diets and their various benefits
- Possible risks to children, senior citizens, or those with medical conditions
- How your new choices will affect your budget and the other areas of your life
One of the worst hindrances to achieving a goal is a lack of information, so be sure to learn as much as you need for a successful family diet. Be sure to share your information with the rest of your household so as to stimulate their interest and satisfy their concerns. It normally isn’t enough to simply ask people to cooperate with you; it’s always better to define what you mean. Thoughtfully and thoroughly explain the matter, and describe your expectations.
2. Explain the advantages and benefits of the diet.
To ignite enthusiasm, it’s important to help each individual understand what they will personally gain from this exercise. People will be more motivated if they can see how it will improve the quality of their lives.
It’s better to give reasons other than vanity, or “losing weight to look good” – this may not be enough to persuade those who are already content with the way they appear. Instead, help them to appreciate further benefits, such as improved stamina for sports, increased energy, lower risk of heart disease, or less risk of illness in their old age.
3. Be clear that it’s a group effort.
The most difficult part in collective dieting is getting different individuals to support a unified overall objective. To secure their cooperation, it’s important to let your family understand that this is something that will be good for everyone, and it’s not just for one member’s personal benefit. While it’s true that each one involved will have to make sacrifices, explain that each person’s small efforts can lead to great success for everyone.
4. Be considerate of different concerns and needs.
Even in a very close family, members will tend to have different opinions and objections. Instead of allowing your differences to be a matter of contention, acknowledge everyone’s concerns and permit some room for flexibility.
Keep in mind that you all have different ages, metabolisms and nutritional needs; it’s important not to impose the same standard for everyone. You may want to lose weight, but one of your children may need to gain weight, so it doesn’t make sense to force him to follow a diet that would benefit you alone. A member who is already at his ideal body weight may not be concerned about weight loss, but he might be interested in healthier eating.
Whatever anyone brings up, be agreeable and supportive. Even if an obviously overweight family member decides not to cut down on his carbohydrate intake, be sympathetic. Accept that not everyone will have the same level of commitment and discipline, and that some people need to start with smaller steps before they hold themselves to drastic obligations.
Be especially mindful of members with health issues such as diabetes, heart ailments, thyroid problems or other conditions that may be affected by a change in their diet. Also keep in mind any medication currently taken by your loved ones, and how these interact with certain food items.
Make it a point to have a conversation, don’t simply enforce new rules. Hear everyone’s concerns and be sure to be considerate of their needs.
5. Be prepared to accept that not everyone will be willing to participate.
Even after you’ve explained all the benefits, it’s quite possible that one or a few people won’t be interested in joining the group diet. This should not be a problem – if you have at least two members who are willing to do this with you, you already have a considerable support group.
It isn’t necessary to get everyone involved, so resist the temptation to guilt anyone into joining you – that might just exasperate them and cause them to more uncooperative. Furthermore, the members who didn’t want to participate in the diet might change their minds later on after they observe the positive effects in others.
6. Plan the diet together.
It’s more effective to allow everybody to contribute their input and get them personally involved, instead of dictating what they should do. Let every member create their own weight-loss goals, in accordance with their specific needs.
Allow each person to do his or her own additional research, such as what sort of diet would work best on their body type, or specific changes they will have to adopt into their lifestyle. One person may do well to lessen his intake of carbohydrates and sweets, while another may feel the need to avoid them altogether. Other members may need more than a change in eating habits to reach their target weight, some may require a focused exercise routine or special supplements.
7. Anticipate possible problems.
Dieting together with your family won’t be a simple task, but always remind yourselves that success is possible. A bit of difficulty along the way is normal, and it’s important not to let these become hindrances. Instead of denying or ignoring the problems, it’s important to acknowledge them so you can address them properly. Allow everyone the freedom to admit any diet-related struggle they may encounter, then try to come up with creative solutions together.
One of the most common hurdles in dieting is the lack of progress. It can be extremely discouraging when no apparent weight loss occurs – it’s very easy to discontinue a diet that doesn’t seem to work. Before anyone gets to the point of discouragement, agree to boost each other’s spirits ahead of time.
Another usual problem is the lack of consistency. To deal with this, give each other permission to watch everyone’s food choices; remind one another to adhere to the regimen at all times. You may also want to discuss alternative diet plans in case the current one proves too demanding.
A family diet is a practical solution that can benefit everyone involved, and the above suggestions are effective ways to get things started. Though your household may initially be reluctant about giving up their favorite fattening treats, they would definitely agree to the rewards: increased fitness, better health, and improved overall well-being.