HOW TO START EATING HEALTHY WHEN YOUR FAMILY DOESN’T SUPPORT YOU
It’s hard changing your lifestyle and diet when someone else is buying the groceries. For anyone who is living with stubborn parents or unhealthy housemates, this post is for you.
I get a bunch of questions daily about how to deal with parents who are not supportive of their teen’s dietary changes. Moms can be very hard headed when it comes to diet. Sometimes the topic of what ends up on the dinner table can get emotional and offensive. After all, she is the one who has been feeding you these past years – why all of a sudden are you rejecting her “love” and “care”?
For those of us that are Asian, telling your family that you will no longer eat white rice can be an extremely epic and awkward event. It is an Asian staple. You have rice at everyday. They will probably not take you seriously and then just tell you that you’re too skinny already and encourage you to eat more. In fact, they will most likely just start scooping you larger heaps of rice and filling your bowl for you. Oh, and don’ forget that they won’t let you leave the table til you finish every last grain of rice in your bowl either.
I’ve gone through numerous diet changes throughout the years – Pescatarian, Vegetarian, Dairy Free, Paleo…and it’s hard and very frustrating eating with people who are not very mindful of your dietary standpoint. In college, I did not eat red meat or poultry and every time I came home for Thanksgiving, Christmas Break, or Spring Break, my parents just could not fathom the fact that I could not eat what they were eating. My mom would PURPOSELY make ribs for dinner and be like “Oh, you can’t eat that? Haha, just have one, it’s ok!” My dad would actually make me feel bad and say “People have been eating meat for millions of years, you’re being unnatural.”
Then when I moved to the East Coast, I officially gave up white rice. I replaced it with veggies – one of the best and easily effective things I’ve done with my diet. Again, when I visited home for the h0lidays my parents would BERATE me for not eating rice.
“Oh you’re not eating rice again?”
“How can you just eat vegetables? That’s disgusting, I could never do that.”
“You’re being unhealthy by not eating grains.”
These comments made me feel so uncomfortable at the dinner table. And even though they are my parents, I found it disrespectful that they chose to not respect my dietary choices. If you are serious about making changes to what you’re eating, you really need a supportive environment. What the people around you say or do will have an impact on how successful you are. Here’s what you can do:
- Start buying your own groceries
- Start cooking for you and for your family – introduce them to your style of delicious clean eating
- Educate your family on why you’re doing what you’re doing – back it up with scientific research. Seriously. Most people shy away from attacking you if you know your stuff.
- Announce it (or just slip it in a conversation). Let your family know how you want to eat. They need to be aware of your healthy habits. This also holds you more accountable for your actions because you know there are others watching.
A really good trick in getting your mom to be on your side is to go grocery shopping with her and asking her how to pick the best fruit or choose a good vegetable. These are life skills you should learn anyway. You guys can have great conversation/bonding time and this is your chance to show her you respect her guidance while educating her on your new dietary needs. This makes her feel important and also sets the stage for a successful dinnertime experience.
If you are really SERIOUS about cutting out rice or going vegetarian but don’t know how to tell your family, just follow the steps above. I can assure you that if your family or housemates really care about you, they will respect your decision and actually help you do what you want to do. So don’t compromise, don’t settle. You’ve got this. It’s your body and your health. Fight for it.
Do you struggle with this?