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Food for Thought

Inspire Healthy Habits

Inspiring your loved ones to eat healthy foods can be challenging. Children can be resistant to trying new things, particularly veggies or multi-ingredient recipes.

Adults tend to respond to their favorite foods based on past experiences associated with a special memory. Eating warm cookies is about more than just the pleasure of gooey chocolate chips. Certain foods form a sensory experience that have a direct link to memories and feelings of comfort that nurture you emotionally. So how do you influence those around you to try new and healthful foods?

As a food coach for a women’s fitness and triathlon training program, I am frequently asked about how to integrate one’s new-found healthy ways into a family environment filled with old habits. People also want to know how to support their children, spouses and other family members to adopt healthier ways.

There are a number of books out there that provide recipes and ideas for how to trick your kids into eating more veggies. I am not a huge fan of this approach, as I believe that kids need to know what they are eating in order to intentionally choose to eat it again. Instead, as a “food coach” for your loved ones, start by preparing and sharing the foods that you enjoy the most.

Food-Coaching Tips:

  • Focus on what you are adding or introducing instead of what must be given up (fat, sugar, etc.). Prepare and share your favorite recipes.

  • Choose foods that are colorful, flavorful and easy to prepare. Invite others (including children) to help with food preparation. If you are using homegrown produce, picking your own veggies from the garden or the farmer’s market can add some fun for kids and adults alike. 

  • Cook “comfort foods” using healthy ingredients (try this Vegan Healthy Mac and Cheese recipe—a favorite at our house!).

Finally, don’t forget about your own exploration. Challenge yourself to try a new fruit, veggie, or something from the bulk-food section of the supermarket (whole grains, legumes, etc.) each week. Start some new, fun traditions around the family table and “coach” your way to healthier eating.

Allison Brewer
Mother of two, writer, vegetarian, and aspiring triathlete

Recommended: Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau


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