You’ve made up your mind that you’re ready to change your family’s food. You’re so on board you might even be considering or working through a change to paleo, SCD, GAPS, Whole30, or even AIP. You’ve done your research and you’re ready to start. In fact, you might have already begun incorporating some of these changes into your lifestyle.
But there’s more to your life than just you–now you need to get your family on board.
Perhaps you’ve started but are in that frustrated and tired place where you’re done/so over making meals that are compliant for you while everybody else eats something different. There’s only so long that mom can make two different meals, so it’s time to make this a team effort. Or, you’ve started off serving the same meals to everyone and not everybody is enjoying the new culinary fare.
I’ve been there.
From one mom to another, here are a few things we did along the way to get everybody on board:
1. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.
Talk to them about how the body works. Tell them about the amazing miracle their cells are and how sometimes they can get swollen (inflammation). And when those cells are swollen sometimes the body hurts or doesn’t work right. But the body is AMAZING and wants to repair.
Whether you’re dealing with chronic pain, gut issues, skin issues, thyroid, etc, explain in your best child friendly words what the body is doing.
When we were talking to our kids about gut health and their immune systems, we used a range of analogies ranging from soldiers to superheroes and villains, to good vs. bad bugs (beneficial vs. opportunistic/pathogenic microbes). They became much more open to fermented foods or the various supplements we asked them to take when we used terms like sending in more good soldiers, good guys, helpers, good bugs–whatever your child relates to–talk to them about it as much as you can. Even if they’re not ready, continue to explain to them what you’re doing, “I’m eating this because it will help my liver function better,” or “I’m drinking this because it will make my belly stronger,” etc. But talk and explain as often as you can. They are sponges. And they are listening.
Show them you are making good choices even when it’s difficult. “Oh, yes, that cake does look so good, but that won’t help Mommy’s body function at its best, ” or “that won’t help Mommy’s body heal from ___.” Continue to do the hard, diligent work and continue to let them see you. They are watching and catching your example.
3. Show them different foods in different settings as often as you can.
If you have an unwilling eater, continue to prep, make, and serve the food even if they have been unwilling 20 times. It can take up to 15 exposures for a child to finally be willing to try something. They are watching and thinking. Keep showing them the food. Keep putting it on the plate.
On the 21st time of being served a cucumber, our son finally took a bite. Hang in there.
4. Talk some more.
I know I listed this one already, but it’s so important. Keep talking to them about what each food is doing for their body. Talk about food as FUEL for the awesome race car their body is or whatever analogy might work for your child. But begin teaching them that food is indeed fuel for their body. It’s information and energy and all things amazing.
If you have a quick minute, grab some nutritional facts about what food you’re eating, what vitamins that particular food has in it, and what it will help their body do. Kids are amazingly curious creatures and can learn at an early age that they CAN CHOOSE to do things that help their bodies be strong, grow big, and think well. Continue to talk in terms of food as fuel, NOT entertainment or reward and you will watch their precious mindsets shift before your very eyes.
5. Find and share examples of victory.
As your body heals, talk to your kids about it. As they make nourishing choices, tell them how you can see they used wisdom and strong character in their choice. Share your excitement with them as you have successes. Our bodies are and do amazing things. Continue to be excited, continue to share your enthusiasm and they will jump on board.
I am not above bribery, though like to reserve it for “last resort” tactics. When we were first introducing our young kids to fermented foods you better believe I bribed those precious little souls with dessert if they ate their fermented vegetables. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt–because I’d lived it–that if I could just get those ferments into their systems, their gut flora would change, their tastebuds would change, and ultimately the bribery would become obsolete. It worked.
Above all, consistent messaging is key.
Be willing (and prepared) to have the conversation over and over. And over. But stick with it because they ARE LISTENING.
These are the things we did in our home and what worked for us. I hope it’s been helpful for you and I’d love to hear what you’ve done in your home, where you started, what worked and what hasn’t.
Please share any struggles or frustrations you’ve had below. We’re in this together!
To Your Health,