Health and Harmony 5/06

May 2006

– keeping the peace and the progress when you’re working towards good health and your family is not.

My kids accuse me of liking certain foods just because they’re healthy. The follow up to that is “if mom likes it, it must be bad.” I admit – I love brown rice, whole grain pasta and brown breads. I even buy brown coffee filters! But then again, I also like exercise and driving to Saskatchewan. So maybe they have a point. I do believe healthy food is delicious and healthy living is divine. The challenge is that not everyone in my family, or yours, shares those beliefs.

There is plenty of evidence to indicate that living healthy is the right thing to do – 50% of cancers being preventable, for example. I could go on, but that is not what this article is about. This article is about how to look after your self versus caving to your family’s tastes and habits.

Please don’t ever use your spouse, kids or anyone else as an excuse to compromise your lifestyle choices. By doing so you are effectively putting your health in their hands. Are you willing to give up that responsibility?

When your family doesn’t share your beliefs or weight loss goals you need to be particularly determined and strong, because it’s definitely harder when they aren’t on board. Don’t let that hold you back, however. Focus on what you want and why you want it. That will keep you motivated and moving forward.

If you’re turning over a new, healthy leaf and your family doesn’t even see the tree, here is what you need to do in order to live in harmony.

– Model the behaviour you would like your family to choose. In time you could influence them. But then again, you might not. Live with it.

– Don’t change radically overnight. This could cause both resistance and rebellion, when what you really want is enrollment.

– Don’t expect your family to change overnight. If they’ve been raised on Wonder bread, understand that they might not race to the pantry for the 12 grain variety.

– Ensure a variety of healthy choices in order that there is always something for everyone’s tastes, including yours. Think “and” versus “either/or.” This means you’ll keep serving the 12 grain even if you’re the only one indulging. Sometimes it’s a matter of what they get used to.

– Say, “No thank-you,” when your family indulges in the undesirable.

– Choose your battles. Cheese macaroni and pepperoni pizza seem to have enormous status. Some things just won’t go away. Can you negotiate more vegetables?

– Persevere. Whether it’s about food or activity, don’t give up. Even when you feel you’re swimming upstream, keep swimming. There are rewards for your actions. Every small step you take makes a difference.

Before you know it, your whole family will be enjoying dry popcorn and the wheat fields of Saskatchewan will be calling your name.