11 Sneaky Ways You Can Get Everyone in Your Household to Eat Better
As much you wish the people you love the most would be gung-ho about jumping on the health bandwagon with you, it's sometimes feels like you're fighting tooth and nails to get them to down a vegetable.
Do the hard work
If given the opportunity, wouldn’t you love to hire an at-home chef to whip up the most delicious and nutritionally-rich foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Most people would prefer for someone else to roll up their sleeves and put in the hard work of chopping, slicing, boiling, and grilling, including your next-of-kin. That’s why Kaleigh McMordie, RD, says to trick ’em into eating smarter, lead by example, illustrating how simple it is to make something that’s good for you, while still tasting great. “Make them a healthy but flavorful meal. If it doesn’t taste like ‘rabbit food,’ they are more likely to enjoy eating healthier. Once they know healthy food can be tasty, they will be more open to eating better, and they’ll probably start to feel better too,” she suggests. She does add that when you first put together your sneaky menu, leave the tofu or kale off of it, as it might be a bit too far out of their wheelhouse. Instead, she says to “go slow with something on the grill, like a lean pork chop and grilled veggies with a baked potato.” Try these 10 tricks to make home cooked meals even healthier.
Sneak vegetables into everything
So your partner looks forward to a cold one with a side of cheesy-fatty pizza every Friday and Saturday night? When you’re trying to shift your diet habits, it can be difficult not to reach for (or order up) ole’ standbys that lack nutritional value, like junk food. But McMordie reminds that your man can have his pizza—and stay healthy, too. The trick here is to go overboard on the vegetables, while keeping some of the traditional ingredients, like mozzarella and pepperoni, to a minimum. “Have a pizza night at home and have lots of fresh veggies and lean protein for toppings, and serve with a salad,” she suggests. “Or, if he loves spaghetti, sneak some extra veggies into the sauce. There are so many foods you can add more vegetables into without it changing the flavor.” Not sure what to put on top of your pie? Here are the healthiest toppings.
Express why it’s personally important to you
When you consider the reasons why you shifted your diet to focus more on fulfilling, healthy foods, your motivations were likely varied. Maybe you wanted to drop some weight before a big event or you reached a point where you were uncomfortable in your clothes. Whatever the cause, it’s important to express the reasoning behind your choices to those you share your home with. Not only is it the first step in earning their support, but it McMordie says it also gives you the opportunity to express how much you care about them. “Let them know that you care about their health and you want them to be around for a long time, and that’s why you care about their diet,” she says.
Invest in smaller dishes
When it comes to eating, size definitely matters, specifically plate size. “When a plate is big, you tend to want to fill it. When it’s small and you fill it up, you are eating less and even if you get a second helping, you are still eating less than you would be if you filled up a large plate,” explains Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD. It might seem like you’re too smart to fall for this trick, but a study backed up the claim.
Put the phone away
Remember one of those awesome New Year’s resolutions you came up with about giving less love to your electronics and more to those you share your home or heart with? It’s easy to get into the habit of scrolling through Instagram while you’re finishing up dinner, but Swinney says that, according to a recent study, when your mind is elsewhere while eating, you’re more likely to munch longer. “Turn off the TV and other electronics and turn on some relaxing music. Tell your family that you’d rather just focus on one another during dinner. Electronics are distracting and we tend to eat more when we are focusing on something else,” she explains. Here are more compelling reasons to break up with technology.
Have a veggie appetizer
No matter if it’s a birthday party, a casual get-together at the beach, or just a BYOB Friday evening party, there’s always someone who remembers to grab something “healthy” to sit among the chips and dip. Swinney says to keep that same mindset when it comes to meal planning, by starting every meal with vegetables. Regardless if it’s crudité, a green salad ,or a homemade cup of vegetable soup, she says that eating a veggie at the start takes the edge off of hunger, which leads to eating less. “Eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to helping children and adults achieve and maintain a healthy weight, according to the US Dietary Guidelines. Eating more fruits and veggies of course adds fiber and nutrients which are important to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease,” she explains. “Even if you serve his same favorite foods at a meal, your spouse will most likely eat less of it! And he will feel full, which is often the main complaint of men who are trying to eat healthier.” Here are the most filling veggies, according to nutritionists.
Do the grocery shopping
When you are the household grocery shopper, you can prevent temptation from even entering your house to start with. “If you don’t buy junk, they have to work much harder to get to it,” Swinney says. “Then, they’re more likely to reach for a healthier option if that’s the only food available. They may even start to love your favorite healthy snack if you just buy it for them,” she says. Grocery bill climbing higher and higher? Here’s how to cut costs.
Truth be told, you have little control over another person, especially when you can’t sit next to them for each and every bite they take. That said, Amy Gorin, MS, RD, says you can be on the first line of defense to sway them to the lighter side on their 3 p.m. snack attack by packing for them. “My boyfriend is a healthy eater, but that doesn’t stop me from packing him a bag of healthier snacks like roasted chickpeas and apples and oranges when he heads on a road trip with the guys. I’d much rather he eat those foods then stop for fast food on the road,” she says. Here are snack ideas that get the nutritionist stamp of approval.
Swap ingredients on the sly
In certain instances, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission, and when it comes to smudging the truth on the exact ingredients you’re using or buying, consider staying mum until post-dinner. Gorin explains that most of the time, upgrading your ingredients to be healthy doesn’t make the overall taste change that dramatically, allowing you to know you created something bountiful, without boasting about it. “When I make French toast, I use whole-grain bread for added fiber and top it with heated frozen fruit, which gets all oozy and is a great stand-in for syrup. Or you can add a runny egg for added protein,” she explains. Here’s how you can get more whole grains in your diet.
Sneak in pulses
One sure-fire, easy-peasy way to make sure your dishes are stock-piled with good, healthy vibes is to be strategic with sneaky ingredients, says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD. One idea is to utilize ‘pulses,’ which is a superfood group made up of dry peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas. “They are a fantastic source of plant-based protein and fiber, both of which are great for heart health and weight management, and it’s easy to sneak pulses into meat-centric dishes,” she explains. One example is cutting the ground beef in half and subbing in lentils in entrees like lasagna, tacos, or even burgers. Here are seven convincing reasons we should all be eating more beans.
Replace white with whole grain
Consider implementing a ‘whole grain’ only rule in your household—or even in your parent’s’ home if you’re trying to encourage better habits. Rizzo says that not only is whole grain easy to get used to after a few bites, but because it has been a trendy shift for a decade, there are options that seem less intimidating to those who have been used to eating white bread, only. She suggests starting with Dave’s Killer Bread Whole Grain Bagels or Cinnamon Raisin Bread. “These taste delicious and are what people are more used to eating, so they are easy to sneak into the home.” Here are science-backed reasons you should be eating more bread, not less.