Ep #95: Changing Your Diet: Your Family’s Response

Strong as a Working Mom with Carrie Holland | Changing Your Diet: Your Family’s Response
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What happens at home when you shake up how you eat? When you start changing the foods you’re eating, there’s a chance that the people you live with will not be happy about the new regime. So, this week, I address some of the most common hiccups people encounter when undergoing these changes, and I detail the impact this switch-up can have on both you and your family members.

Whether you’re the one planning the meals, or somebody else is in charge of that, committing to shift the way you approach food and nutrition is going to have an impact on someone in your life. If these changes are met with support, that’s awesome. But there could be some pushback, so it’s time to talk about what you can expect when you start eating healthier on a consistent basis.

Tune in this week to discover the potential obstacles that could prevent you from eating the way you want to. In this episode, I show you how to understand the rhythm of your home, you’ll learn how to anticipate the problems that will result from your lifestyle change, and I give you practical strategies to make these difficult situations less complicated and painful when they come up.

Are you ready to eat, move, and think in a way that gets you strong both physically and mentally? You deserve to have both no matter how busy you are, and I can help. I’m opening up my one-on-one coaching program for new clients, and I would love to work with you. Click here to learn more about working with me.

What You Will Discover:

  • How changing up your eating plan will impact the people you live with.
  • Why every home has a rhythm, and how to uncover the rhythm of your home.
  • The biggest family challenges that have come up for my clients when they change their diets.
  • What to do when you’re getting pushback from your family around your new eating plan.
  • Why you need to approach your family’s pushback from a clean place with no expectations.
  • How to save yourself time, energy, and frustration as you make changes to your own approach to nutrition.
  • The choices you have when your family aren’t on board with your new eating plan.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast, Episode #95. If you want to change the way you eat, let’s talk about what it means for both you and your family.

Welcome to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. If you’re balancing career, family, wellness, and some days sanity, you are in the right place. This is where high-achieving, busy, working moms get the tools they need to eat, move, and think. I’m your host, physician, personal trainer, and certified life coach, Carrie Holland. Let’s do this.

Hey, how are you? What’s new, what’s good? So, what’s good here, we are going to talk about what happens at home when you shake up how you eat. Specifically, we’re going to get into what you might encounter from your family, or the people you live with, when you decide to change up your diet. I want to address some of the common hiccups that you might encounter, and the potential impact it can have on both you and your family.

So, this episode comes from running into this obstacle repeatedly when coaching clients. Many of you don’t live alone. Some of you are married or are partnered. Some of you have kids. And whatever your situation is, it’s important to take that into consideration when you make a serious, concerted effort to change up your lifestyle.

Because for many of you, the changes that you make for yourself will likely impact the people who live with you. And this may be met with full-on support, full-on backlash, or something in between. I’ve seen all flavors of response to the changes that my clients have put in place. So, I’ve mentioned it before, and it bears repeating here, every home has its rhythm, right? It’s your house rhythm. Think about what that is for your own home. How would you describe the rhythm of your home? Is it organized and predictable? Is it spontaneous and unplanned? How do your mornings run? Are they rushed and scattered or are they organized?

How are your evenings, are they total chaos? Are they organized chaos? Are they calm? And what about your weekends? How do your weekends go? Do you have much downtime? Do you have tons of activities? Do you have time for meal planning, grocery shopping, or exercise? And then, who does what? If you have a partner, who typically does what? Who does the meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking? Do you exercise? And, where does this all fit in?

All of those answers will give you an idea of your house rhythm. And if you’re wondering why this matters, it’s because your house rhythm may very well need to change if you’re going to make serious lifestyle changes. It may be that you typically don’t meal plan because most of your meals come from restaurants or takeout.

And so, if you’re looking to change that it may mean making a plan, creating a grocery list, and doing real, legit grocery shopping. And that may be very different from what you’re used to. That will mean a change to your house rhythm.

So, think about what your own house rhythm is as we talk through this today. And then, think about the potential obstacles that you can foresee for yourself or for your family. Think about the hiccups that you might run into when you go to change things up. And then, let’s come up with some strategies to address them.

This is another thing I do with clients in our coaching sessions. We’ll talk through obstacles that she has already encountered or will anticipate, and think through what potential obstacles she can imagine when she starts to change things up. And then, once we’ve identified those obstacles, we’ll brainstorm strategies she can use to work through those obstacles.

I really love doing this because it means thinking realistically, it means thinking ahead, and it means having a plan. Yes, having a plan. My goal for my clients is that you never run into a situation where you don’t know what to do. Of course, I totally understand that you do not have a crystal ball, and it’s impossible to know every single obstacle you might run into when you start to shake up your lifestyle.

But that being said, most of you know your house rhythm, your schedule, and your family, well enough to anticipate potential hiccups. And I want you to be prepared to address those, so that the lifestyle changes you’re making are less complicated.

What I’m going to do today, is talk through some of the biggest challenges that have come up repeatedly for my clients when they’ve changed their diets and how we’ve dealt with them. My hope is that by sharing some of their struggles and the solutions we’ve come up with, that we can save you time, energy, and frustration as you make changes to your own approach to nutrition. All right? So, let’s go.

When it comes to nutrition, one of the biggest things many of my clients undertake is changing where their meals come from. Many of my straight-up weight loss clients have made major shifts from getting their meals from restaurants and fast food, or takeout, to making and eating more of their meals at home.

This can be a huge change, not just for you, but for your entire family. And this is a big one, and something I encounter commonly with clients. Unfortunately, this is where many of my clients have run into serious pushback.

Sometimes your partner may not be on board. Sometimes your kids may not be on board. Sometimes both, your partner and your kids, may not be on board. And that can be really, really challenging when your whole family is not with you when you’re changing up the way you eat.

I had one client whose husband and two teenage daughters were absolutely not having it. They were not interested at all in eating more of their meals at home. As a result, my client really, really struggled with the negative feedback she was getting with her family. There can be all kinds of reasons behind this. For one thing, it may be that in your home, food is seen as entertainment.

I had another client, who for years ate all of her meals, three meals a day, from restaurants or fast food. Her family essentially never ate food that was made at home. So, when she went to change this up, it was a serious struggle because it changed the dynamic of her family. They were staying at home, in their kitchen. They weren’t being served. There wasn’t a menu to peruse. There weren’t fancy, indulgent meals to look forward to anymore.

What she realized in this process was that both she and her family were using meals out and the food as entertainment. So, when she wanted to change that up, it meant getting less entertainment from her food. It meant getting less entertainment from being at a restaurant. But it also meant they had to find ways of entertaining themselves that didn’t involve the dinner they were waiting for.

That was a huge struggle for her, and it was also a struggle for her kids. It brought to light some of the issues within her family, and some of the dysfunction in her family relationships. And that wasn’t easy, there was serious resistance to changing this up.

But with coaching, we were able to work through those obstacles. We reframed her approach and her thoughts about her family, and we were able to practice using meals together as an opportunity to reconnect and communicate on a deeper level. And, this was instead of meals being all about the food. This was a huge, huge shift for her. It took a lot of work. But in the end, she found that it was worth it both for her own health, but also for her relationships with her family.

Still another client found that her husband struggled with this transition to less restaurant meals. She found that on busy weeknights he was super quick to suggest takeout whenever they were short on time. This was despite the fridge full of groceries that my client had bought and prepped after planning meals for the week.

She noticed that when the weeknight got busy, and they were in a hurry to get to after school activities, her husband would suggest picking something up on the way home or stopping for fast food. So, she had to really practice following her plan and asking her husband not to get the takeout. That was not easy for either of them.

It makes total sense, when takeout or fast food has been your default for years, it can be really easy to backslide and go for the default of a restaurant meal or something quick when things get busy. And when your partner is the one suggesting it, that can make it that much more of a challenge.

But this gives you an opportunity to be really clear about your goals, reiterate what your plan is, and then you practice following your plan. These are just some examples. These are some of the more common scenarios I’ve observed with my clients, and you may have your own. You may have your own struggles you’ve run into from your own family, when you’ve reduced the amount of restaurant or fast food or takeout that you got.

And the question is, what do you do about it? What do you do, when you’re getting pushback from your family when you change it and get less restaurant food? First and foremost, go back to your “why”. I’m asking you to remind yourself why this matters to you. Why do you care? Why do you want to have less restaurant meals? Why is this important?

Come up with as many reasons as you can as to why this matters to you. Things like feeling better after meals. Getting healthier by eating less salt, sugar or fat. Saving money, losing weight, role modeling what healthy eating looks like for your kids. I mean, I could go on here. The point is to remember all the reasons that changing up the way you eat matters to you. And then, remind yourself to have that frequently.

I want you to have a clearer sense of why you’re choosing to take this on. Have a clear purpose. And part of this goes back to what we know about goal setting. So, we know that based on years of psychology research, people who have a strong sense of purpose, a strong sense of “why”, they are much more likely to reach their goals than people who do not feel as attached to their “why”. So, please get very clear on why these changes matter to you. And from there, you can share your reasons with your family. If you are getting pushback, or if you’re getting questions from your family, you can share your reasons for wanting to change with them.

But now that I’ve said that, let me make something super clear. You sharing your reasons for changing it up with your family, that’s personal. That is your choice. And if you choose to share why changing the way you eat matters to you, I would encourage you to do it from a clean place. What I mean by that is, you can most definitely share your reasons for change. But that doesn’t mean that your family will or even has to support it. And if you have the expectation that your family will support the way you want to eat, but they don’t, you may be disappointed. I don’t know how else to put it, but I want to be super transparent with you.

If you’re looking for validation from your family, when you share your desire to change up the way you eat, you may not get it. And I know it’s not super awesome. But I want to give it to you straight, and encourage you to think about what you would do if your family is not on board. Because that has most definitely happened for a number of my clients. In fact, it’s happened for many of them.

And if this happens to you, that your family is not interested in changing the way they eat along with you, then you’ve got a decision to make. Do you not participate? Do you do your own thing and not order takeout when they do? Do you order salads when they get takeout, when normally you would get something else? Do you grocery shop for yourself and eat your own meals while your family gets takeout?

This is what my client did when her husband and two teenage daughters decided to keep getting restaurant food. So, what is it for you? What will you do? What I would encourage here, is to think in terms of possibility. Looking for what is possible in your situation, and getting creative with your solutions.

And here’s the thing, you may need to do some work on this. What I mean is, do your mind work here. You may need to do a bit of coaching, whether that’s with someone like me, or do your own self-coaching so you don’t use this as a source of bitterness towards your family. I’m making a big stink out of this because I’ve seen it come up so often. There can be serious anger and resentment that stems from changing up the way you eat, and it can go in either direction. I want to help you avoid that if possible. So, I’m encouraging you to do your work, and decide how you’re going to manage if and when your family is not in support of changing the way they eat. This is what my clients do. So, one of the questions I would encourage you to ask, in the case your family is not supportive is this: What am I making this mean? It’s one of my favorites, and I think it’s a really helpful question to ask. Because your family’s choice about how to eat is not a reflection of you. Let me say that again, in case you really need to let it sink in: Your family’s choice about how to eat is not a reflection of you.

Remember, their choice is not about you. But often, we make the response mean something about ourselves, when really that’s not the case. So, let’s go back to what we know here. Who is in charge of your thoughts, feelings, and actions? You are. Now, who is in charge of your family’s thoughts, feelings, and actions? They are. So, when you choose to make different choices about how you eat, that’s you. You’re managing your own thoughts, feelings and actions, and making a choice from your own emotional authority. And with that, and based on how people work, you don’t get to control how your family responds to those changes, because they’re all humans with their own freewill and their own decision-making authority.

You don’t get to control their thoughts, feelings and actions. Just as they cannot control yours. You can only control how you carry yourself. That’s it. So, if your family decides not to participate in the changes that you make, to the way you eat, or if they pose serious resistance to it, you can choose to make it mean that they’re not supportive, or that they don’t care, or that they’re trying to sabotage you… Which I’ve definitely talked through with some of my clients who have felt exactly this.

Or you can choose to make it mean absolutely nothing about you. You can choose to make it mean that they’re simply exercising the right to choose, and they’re choosing differently than you. They may have their own reasons for choosing to not eat the way that you are. They may not be at a place where they’re ready for change. Remember, we’re all on our own paths. And while you may be ready for change, your partner or your kids may not be at the same place you are. And, you can’t force that. I should make a special note here. If you have small children, it may be different. If you have kids who are not yet old enough to go and get their own food, you may have a different situation on your hands. I’ll get to that in just a minute, okay? But the larger point here, is that if you want to change up the way you eat, and your family is not ready to adopt the same changes you’re making, I would encourage you to practice making it mean nothing about you.

I know, just as I’m saying that out loud, I know that sounds like a tall order. But having gone through this with so many clients, I would argue that you will feel so much better if you release the expectation that your partner or your family are going to jump in and eat the same way as you if they’re not ready to do it yet.

I want you to be ready for that possibility, that you may not have full support from the outset. So, as a side note, I have an entire podcast about what to do if your partner is not supportive, and that’s Episode #44. It goes into all kinds of details about the reasons that your partner may not be supportive and what to do about it.

Today, I’m hitting on some different concepts, but you can go back to that episode if you want more information about what to do specifically if your partner is not supportive of your change. Alright, I also want to talk about when you run into resistance about what you’re eating at home. So, say for some of you it’s not so much eating out that’s the problem, but instead it’s what you’re eating at home. Maybe your family currently eats largely ultra-processed foods, or things like frozen, fried stuff. Or maybe your fridge has not seen a vegetable in who knows how long. This has most definitely come up many times for my clients.

If you’re struggling with how to change up the “what” of what you’re actually eating at home, let’s talk through this. Your family may be used to frozen chicken nuggets and french fries. So you may eat at home, but you may have a largely beige diet. I think of beige diets as very carb or processed food heavy. Things like french fries, chicken fingers, white bread, pasta, mac-and-cheese. Maybe you realize it’s time to shake that up, and you want to start buying veggies and lean protein.

And then, you do this and there are opinions. Maybe your family is not into veggies. Maybe there is flat out refusal to partake in the veggies. Or maybe the idea of fish instead of chicken nuggets is met with full on refusal.

So, what do you do? I bring this up, especially for any of you with younger children who may be very used to eating certain foods. You may worry that if you introduce new foods like veggies, that they will refuse. They very well might, I want you to be ready for that. Or if you introduce chicken breast in place of chicken nuggets, there could very well be some resistance.

Here are some strategies to help you with this obstacle. Okay, when you’re introducing new foods, go slow. I do not suggest ripping off the band-aid and upending your entire menu because that may not go over well. Instead, choose one or two new meals a week and see what the response is. Again, this is going to require planning, but it will be worth it to have a plan in mind. Try out a few new foods at a time, rather than redoing everything all at once. Okay? Don’t rip the band-aid off.

Then, along with the new foods you’re introducing, have something out that you know your family will eat. I had one client who made a new tofu dish. The first time she made it, it did not go over well. But she had fruit and rice with the tofu because she knew her kids would eat both of those things. To be clear, I am not advocating that your family or your kids go hungry if they don’t like what you’ve made. That is not the idea here, at all. Instead, when you’re introducing new foods, be sure to have something that you know is a winner in case whatever new food you’re trying is a no-go.

I would also encourage you to resist the urge to make something else entirely for them. I get that all the time, but you are not a short-order cook. You don’t have time for that. If you have food on the table you know your kids will eat, let them eat it. You don’t have to start all over again, okay? Save yourself the time, energy and frustration.

Another thing I would suggest is to get your family involved. Ask your partner, ask your kids, what healthy foods would they like to have? I asked my kids what fruit and veggies they wanted to try, and it was that simple. And now, I know that Noah loves clementines, and Evan likes pineapple. Meanwhile, we bought broccoli, and I shoved it on the plate with their clementines and pineapple, and they ate it; they ate the broccoli.

The larger point here is to get them involved. Explain to them that you’d like to try new and different foods, and ask if there’s something they’d like to try. Have them pick out what they think is a healthy recipe. You might be surprised. Get them involved, and they almost definitely have more buy in. Okay?

Here’s another thing I want to hit on, because this one comes up frequently too. So, when your kids notice a change, because they will indeed notice, be ready. I don’t want you to be caught off guard. So, please think through how you will explain to them the reasons behind your change. Because if they’re anything like my kids, they notice everything and they will not think twice about asking questions.

I think that’s a good thing. Their curiosity opens the door to good conversations, and that’s true about way more than food. For me, one of the things I stopped doing years ago was buying fruit snacks. I realized that they were essentially candy, and when I saw my kids going into the pantry two, or sometimes even three times a day, to grab a little bag of fruit snacks, I realized I had created a problem.

So, one week, I just stopped. I stopped bringing them home from the grocery store. That was it. And when they asked about it, I was pretty clear. I owned up and I said I made a choice, and then I realized that it wasn’t a good one. I realized that fruit snacks weren’t the kind of snack I wanted to give them, and that real fruit was a better option. And, that was it.

Later, when I stopped buying the frozen chicken nuggets that we’re used to having weekly, I again explained that I did some thinking and realized that the chicken nuggets weren’t something I wanted to give them regularly and that I could do better with their dinner. And, that was it.

Every now and then, admittedly it’s few and far between, but now, still, every once in a while my kids request frozen chicken nuggets, and we’ll get them. But we don’t have them often at all, anymore. We use this as an opportunity to talk about how no food is off limits, but there are some foods that we just don’t have all the time.

We talk about how certain foods, after we eat them, may not feel as good as others. And my goal is to give them foods that help them feel their best. And, that’s it. We don’t make a big deal out of it. I’m not demonizing any food to my kids. I’m not saying that sugar is evil, or that fries are awful, okay?

Instead, I want them to understand that some foods have more nutritional value than others, and I want them to eat as much nutritional food as I can give them. I want them to understand that some foods are more like treats, and maybe those foods aren’t things that we eat every day. But nothing is bad.

One last thing I want to mention about changing up your approach to food, because this one comes up often too, what about when you go out for ice cream? Or if you don’t do that, what about when you get a slushie after a baseball game? Or go out for pizza after a performance? Or a pastry every Saturday from your favorite bakery, as a reward for getting through your week? Then what? What do you do?

I bring this up, because it comes up all the time. Especially related to the ice cream. So, what do you do if your family’s out of ice cream? Do you get the ice cream or do you skip it? There is no one clear-cut answer here. So, what I would say is this, make your decision in advance. You know, I’m all about planning, and this is no exception.

Make a decision ahead of time about when and how you will treat yourself. And if you decide that you’re going to treat yourself by getting ice cream with your kids, do it. Or if you decide that you’d rather hold off and treat yourself with a really great dessert at a fancy restaurant with your partner later in the week, do that. Make your decision and make it ahead of time.

Here’s why I think this is so important. My goal for anyone I work with is that she gets really, really good at making decisions using the prefrontal part of her brain, from the evolved, planning part of her brain. It’s the planning part of your brain that understands delayed gratification. This is in contrast to snap decisions, made in the heat of the moment, using our uninvolved, primitive brain that wants what it wants and wanted it five minutes ago. Okay?

Those quick, in the heat of the moment decisions are generally made with the goal of instant gratification. And those decisions usually feel good in the short term, only to not feel so good later. So, make your decision in advance. If you are someone who plans out your meals and snacks, which I most definitely recommend, I would also urge you to plan out when you’re going to treat yourself. Okay?

Make your decision ahead of time, including your treats. So, let’s go back to the ice cream. What if you decide to skip the ice cream? What if your family is going out to ice cream, and you’ve decided that you’re choosing to skip it, then what? You skip the ice cream, that’s what. At the risk of oversimplifying, you just skip the ice cream. That’s it.

And similar to not getting fruit snacks, or chicken nuggets anymore, you don’t make a big, hairy deal out of it. Really, you make it no big deal. And then, let me hit this head on, because this comes up often too. The next question that comes up is, what will my kids say? What will they think if I don’t get ice cream?

So, if your kids ask, you can tell them. You can very simply say, “I’m choosing not to have ice cream today,” and you can leave it at that. That’s it. I have most definitely done this myself, and I have found time and again, that that is the end of it. That’s as far as it goes. I don’t make a big hoopla out of it. I don’t say, “Oh my gosh, I can’t have this. It’s bad for me. I really shouldn’t have this today.” I don’t dramatize it. I don’t make a big deal of it.

I’m very intentional and careful about the words I use. I choose, because it’s true. I can choose to have ice cream, or I can choose not to, and I’m choosing not to have ice cream. I don’t say ‘I can’t have it, or I shouldn’t have it’ because that’s not at all true. I’m choosing to skip the ice cream; period, end. That’s it.

I’ve never had it be a big deal. If they ask, which most often they don’t, I tell my kids the truth. That I’m choosing not to have it today, and then they go back to their ice cream and the world keeps spinning. They don’t make a big deal out of it because I don’t make a big deal out of it. I would offer that the same can be true for you, too. Okay?

Ironically, I was talking about this point with my husband in the car, on our way back from a road trip, while I was writing this podcast. And my kids, they were in the backseat. Adam and I were talking about getting ice cream and treats with our kids after games and performances. And then, we got into how really this underlies the deeper issue of whether or not we should be using food as a reward for our children.

With zero prompting, my 11-year-old piped in and interjected, rather matter of factly from the backseat, “Probably not.” To which Adam and I both just started laughing. So, thank you, Evan, that could not have been any better timed.

This probably could be an entire podcast in and of itself, which I think we should tackle in the future. I’m not here to settle this debate today. But I do think that there is a really important concept to consider here, and that is how we, as adults, view food and what messages we’re passing on to our kids. Including how, and if, we use food as a reward. Because our kids are listening, they are watching, and they are most definitely absorbing.

So, if we use food as a reward for them after an athletic event, or after a performance of some kind, what is the message we’re sending? Is that the kind of message we want to be sending? Again, I’m not here to sell that debate today, because there is so much to this. But since we’re talking about shaking things up at home, I think it bears considering what the place of food is in your family?

Do you use it as a reward? Do you use it as entertainment? Do you use it as a carrot or as a stick to incentivize or disincentivize your family? And more importantly, how do you want to help your children view food? Honestly, that would be, in my opinion, the most important question to determine for yourself.

Decide how you want to view food, and then model it so that your kids learn it from you. When you can role model a positive relationship with food, you’re teaching kids how to do it for themselves. There it is. We just talked about some of the big things that come up for my clients when they change the way they eat. Because at the heart of it, you don’t operate in a vacuum. If you have a partner, if you have kids, if you have someone who lives with you and you eat or cook together, these people may very well be impacted by the food choices you make.

And while it is so, so awesome when you have immediate, full support from those people, sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes there’s an adjustment period. Sometimes there’s refusal. And I want you to be prepared for whatever response you get from your family, so that it doesn’t become a source of resentment.

Most often, when you take the first step and make serious changes in the way you eat, most often, this opens the door to conversation between you and your family. And that conversation, that communication, is essential. I can only encourage you to continue that conversation as you fine tune whatever change you make to your house rhythm. Okay?

Change, we know this already, change is not easy for anyone. Especially when it comes to some of the long-standing patterns related to the way you eat. But despite this, it is absolutely 100% possible to change it up for both you and your family. And I hope you’re walking away with a couple of tools to make this easier for you.

If you want help with this, let’s talk. This is what we do in coaching. You will certainly have a plan for how to eat. But more importantly, we’ll strategize so that you can implement it no matter what. Check out my website. Go to www.CarrieHollandMD.com/contact, tell me what you’d like to change, and let’s get to work.

All right, thank you again for hanging out with me. I’ll catch you again next week. If you like what you’ve been hearing, please review the show. I would love to get your feedback and ideas. Your suggestions have inspired episodes and will help me make the show better for you. Share this podcast with a friend, text a show link, share a screenshot, or post a link to the show on your social media.

Be sure to tag me @CarrieHollandMD on either Instagram or Facebook so I can follow along and engage with you. This is how we get the word out to other working moms who want to feel strong inside and out. If you know someone who wants to feel better or eat and move differently but she is too tired or too busy, it is time to change things up.

You know making that change starts with how you think, and that is what we do here on the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for listening to Strong as a Working Mom. If you want more information on how to eat, move, and think, so you can live in the body you want, with the mind to match, visit me at CarrieHollandMD.com.

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