How to develop healthy diet and lifestyle habits together, as a couple or a family
Having support from your family or other people you live with is an important factor in the success of your weight loss, healthy diet and lifestyle journey. But likewise, living with or being in a relationship with someone or having kids who don’t follow your diet can be an extra challenge, and can make staying on the right path even more challenging.
So, how can you develop healthy habits in diet and lifestyle in your family relationships without the struggle being one-sided? Perhaps your partner doesn’t understand why you need or want to change your habits. Perhaps they do understand, but don’t need to make those same changes themselves, so bring unhealthy snacks into your house or expect a completely different meal at dinner time.
Whether your partner and kids want to make changes to their own diet and lifestyle or not, having them on board will make your life so much easier. It will also increase your chances of success. Here are some tactics you can try to implement healthy habits in your relationships.
Have an honest conversation about your needs
As with most things to do with relationships, good results start with good communication. If you want to make changes to your diet and lifestyle, start by talking to your partner about what you need, and why you’re making the changes. Only you know what your motivations are, whether your goal is weight loss to look better, improve your health, or simply feel more energetic. Once you’ve shared your motivations with your loved ones, they will probably understand and want you to reach your goals.
The next step is to work out how you’re going to achieve your goals. Are you going to reduce certain types of food in your home? Do you want to change your breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus? Do you just want to introduce more healthy food into your diet? Will you spend evenings, early mornings, or weekends at the gym or doing other physical activity?
All of these are reasonable changes to make when embarking on a new healthy lifestyle plan. But, when you live with other people, these changes will also impact them. They may not have easy access to their favourite snack food any more, and you may be out of the house for longer periods when they’re used to having you at home.
If these changes are sudden and your partner or kids don’t understand their importance, they may feel resentful or put up blocks to you making these changes. That’s why communication is so important.
Find ways to get them involved
Whether or not your partner or kids want to improve their own healthy habits, there are ways you can get them involved in your new lifestyle so that they don’t unintentionally sabotage it for you.
If you’re worried about spending time away from your family while you go out to exercise, come up with some ways that you can exercise together. Everyone, whether on a healthy lifestyle plan or not, can benefit from a hike in nature, a yoga class, swimming at the pool, and other gentle exercise. By including your partner or kids in your new hobbies, they’re less likely to feel that they’ve been left behind.
When it comes to diet, it may be trickier to force new healthy habits onto people who are unwilling to change. But, you can bring a lot of what you learn about healthy food into your home to benefit everyone. If you prepare most of the meals for your family, you can prepare meals with more nutritious and healthy food. If your kids enjoy helping you in the kitchen, you can explain to them the benefits of the new food you’re preparing.
If you don’t normally prepare the food in your household, you might need to change that and take the lead with your new diet requirements. Whether that means cooking separate meals for yourself or for the whole family, you’ll have more control over what you eat if you’re preparing it yourself. Plus, learning to cook can be fun!
It might sometimes also be necessary to lay some ground rules. For instance, you might need to tell your family not to bring unhealthy snacks into the home: if they want to consume them, they need to do so outside. But, hopefully they will be influenced by your better habits and the introduction of healthy food into your home over time and not feel the need to sneak junk food into their diet.
When your partner and family is on board
An ideal scenario for many people is embarking on a healthy diet and lifestyle journey together, as a couple or a family. Even if you didn’t begin the journey together, once your family sees the success you’re having, they may join in.
Couples and families who get healthy together can benefit in so many ways. You can keep each others’ motivation up when things get hard. You can take turns preparing healthy food so that you don’t feel the burden of preparing all your food alone. You can set goals together and establish friendly competition to meet them. You can have fun exercising together, and are more likely to carve out significant time for physical activity when you’re doing it with someone else.
Just remember that if you’re involving kids, young people have different nutritional and kilojoule requirements to adults. Eating nutritious, healthy food is important for everyone, but restrictive diets with the goal of weight loss are usually a bad idea for kids, unless recommended by a medical professional.