If you have a family, you may find it difficult to initiate new eating and exercise habits for yourself without changing their habits at the same time.
In fact, the least successful diets are usually those that require people to eat in isolation from their families, cooking one meal for themselves and another for the other members.
Because low-fat foods not only control weight but also contribute to good health, changing dietary habits is important for the entire family. Aim to change your family’s preferences for high-sugar and high-fat foods and enlist their support for reaching your long-term goals.
But be prepared: When trying to work your new lifestyle into your family’s routines, you may encounter some resistance. Here are some easy solutions to common problems:
Problem: Nutritional needs for children.
Your own diet may create unforeseen nutritional problems for your children.
Solution: Because children are still growing, they should not have their calorie intakes restricted, but it is important to introduce them to healthy eating habits at the same time that you are improving your own. Make sure that they are getting the necessary calcium and other nutrients for growth by adapting your own meals for them. Keep a supply of whole milk for the children and low-fat or skim milk for yourself. Add cheese for them to low-fat salads that you prepare for yourself. If you are serving baked potatoes, make fillings more calorie-rich for the children with creamy sauces, while you fill your own with water-packed tuna or yogurt.
Problem: Finicky eating.
Your children and perhaps your partner resist or oppose changes to their favorite meals.
Solution: Adjusting your family’s favorite recipes by reducing fat whenever possible is a way of subtly changing habits. Make hamburgers healthier by using extra-lean meat and serving them on whole-wheat buns. Gradually cut down the amount of sugar in desserts that you prepare and in other items you buy.
Problem: Lazy family habits.
The family as a whole may prefer watching television to sports and other physical activities.
Solution: Gradually wean everyone away from the television. Begin by playing board games, then move on to more active pursuits that are also fun, such as swimming or in-line skating.
Problem: Your partner doesn’t support your plan.
If your partner is overweight, he or she may have a vested interest in keeping you plump. A partner may even sabotage your best efforts by bringing home treats or take-out food, to relieve you of the burden of cooking.
Solution: Discuss your goals with your partner. Make sure he or she understands the importance of what you are trying to do and some of the principles of healthy eating and exercise that you are attempting to introduce. Get your partner involved with meal preparation and exercise ideas. Perhaps he or she has a favorite sport you could share.
If your partner brings home treats, try to maintain your self-control. Explain that these make your task harder and, though the occasional treat is fine, if this happens on a regular basis, it will undermine your careful eating plan.