All it takes is one family member to impact diet and lifestyle changes for the rest of the family. Just think about – family dinners, grocery shopping, the shared pantry – a family’s habits converge based on efficiency and convenience.
This can either be a good or bad thing for those of us with digestive issues. When we don’t have support and buy-in from others in our family, it can be especially difficult to stick to specific food requirements if temptation is all around us. But, if you can find a way to get our family on board with these new and healthy changes, it can mean better gut health not only for you, but for your entire family.
In this post, we’re going to walk you through some common concerns that arise when looking to make household changes to support your new and incredible gut health journey. Afterall, it really takes just one family member to impact the health, digestion, and lifestyle of the entire household for the better!
Where do I start?
With an open conversation! This step can sometimes seem the most daunting, but a conversation between parents and children about the importance of healthy choices can start a dialogue that will lasts for years. Write down some goals of your family’s eating habits, including any dietary restrictions and food allergies. Plan to tackle these goals over the next few months, giving yourself time to learn and adjust. The magnitude of healthy eating seems a lot less large when it’s concisely written down. We even recommend taping this list on the refrigerator as a reminder for everyone that you’d like to achieve a healthier lifestyle together. Forbes reports that writing down goals measurable increases your chances of achieving them. In this study, the focus group that was told to just think about goals completed, on average, 4.28 of their goals by the end of the month; the group that had written it down completed 6.44. So, get those pens going!
By committing to work together, instead of alone, to achieve a common goal, your family’s chances of success increase dramatically. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) found that an individual has a 65% likelihood of completing a goal if he/she commits to someone else. Perhaps that’s why health coaching is so powerful!
More so, when accountability appointments are pre-determined, for instance a Sunday family meeting, you increase your chance of success by up to 95%! Now that’s a double whammy!
Will it be a lot of work?
Yes and no. We recommend that to begin, you start small. With your list of what you’d like to achieve as a family over the next three months ready to go, it’s time to pick one goal a week to work on. Let’s say you decide to start with removing dietary restrictions and food allergies. The best way to embark on this is to make it a family event! Let’s say you need to get rid of all gluten-containing products in the household first. Make it a scavenger hunt for the kids, letting them raid the pantry and spot the offending foods. Get creative! Their selections of both right and wrong items offers a powerful learning opportunity for the whole family.
Then, each Sunday, talk to your children about what you achieved in the prior week as well as what the goal is for the upcoming week. Go grocery shopping together, focusing on educating your family and let them participate in the process. Meal prepping is another great activity that can bring you all into one room. Instead of spending money at the movies, cooking a meal as a family is a great way to bond AND be prepared for healthful week ahead.
Sticking to dietary restrictions and food allergies become easier once the house is made “trigger-food-proof.” For instance, getting rid of dairy to help with lactose intolerance altogether eliminates the cravings and temptation to give in. As they say, out of sight, out of mind! This couldn’t be more true when it comes to food.
Joint accountability and teamwork across a family make the work seem less since the burden is shared. While it may seem unfair to make all members follow the dietary demands of one, you’ll find it time that it can be a good thing for everyone, and soon all of our family will be feeling healthier.
How do I involve my children in the process?
If thoughts of your children throwing broccoli on the floor and boycotting asparagus is making your mind race, consider this. One of the most effective ways to engage your children in this journey is to invite them to be a part of the process. As stated above, letting kids help with grocery shopping and teaching them how to read labels will empower them AND provide valuable learning opportunities. And instead of using sugar as a reward for your children (No judgement! As an adult, I STILL like being rewarded by sweets once in awhile!), try to find other tangible motivators like an extra hour of playtime or having a sleepover with friends. By removing sugar as an incentive, you will likely decrease how much of it is in even in the house, removing temptation for everyone.
Then, you can begin to teach your children to listen to their bodies. Easier said than done, but choosing natural sugars, like fruit as snacks, instead of sugary crackers and cereals, will likely keep your little ones fuller for longer, help them focus, and allow them to sleep better. Could your little guy or girl’s symptoms of sugar addiction be the cause of tummy aches or mood swings? Certainly! Explore the science with them as you empower them to live a life of health as they move into adulthood!
What if I don’t know enough?
That’s why Thrive by Food is here! Don’t even know how to start your goals? Since the day Kristin founded Thrive by Food, she’s been developing and fostering a community of learners and teachers to help people just like you start the same journey to be successful. Kristin revolutionized her health over the past seven years, essentially curing her ulcerative colitis with a few strategic diet, lifestyle, and household changes. Read about what exactly she did here!
You can always turn to this blog and follow Kristin on Instagram (@thrivebyfood) to learn from her (both what she did right and wrong along the way) so that you can make your road to better gut health faster and enjoyable for the whole family. Read past blog posts such as this one on improving digestion today for quick ideas that you can start now to feel better and improve your intestinal health.
Then, join us in the Thrive by Food private Facebook group to become a part of a large community of fellow advocates to provide increased accountability support for you and your family. Finally, if you’d like a more personalized opinion, set up a FREE introductory call with Kristin to discuss what your short terms goals are and how Thrive by Food can support and accelerate your journey.