Recently I saw a social media post that read, “Diabetes doesn’t run in your family, unhealthy eating habits are a part of your family.” While my quotation of the post may not be perfect, the message is clear. Could we be passing along more than just grandma’s secret dinner roll recipe in the name of tradition? Growing up in a black family that prepared dishes who’s origin spanned the history of American slavery, I know first hand how tradition is a difficult thing to overturn. Telling grandma she adds too much sugar to the sweet potatoes is a sure-fire way to get your clock cleaned. Personal safety aside, I’ve started having similar conversations with my family. And with the holidays in full swing, here’s how you can navigate the difficult discussion of what we put on our plate.
Start with the Heart
The first thing we can do if we want to convince the people we love the most to start eating healthier is to understand that for many families cooking is a way of expressing our love for one another. It doesn’t matter what’s on the table; the time spent in the kitchen, the thought process that goes into what to prepare, are all acts of service that moms, dads, aunt, and uncles do daily to show they care. It shouldn’t be a huge surprise when our attempt to change things is met with resistance. The words, “This is the way we have always done things” isn’t meant to be defensive. I have found that instead, it is another way of saying, “this is the only way I know how to show I care.” So, in turn, we should handle this important conversation with care. You’re dealing with a lot more than grandmas’ sweet potatoes here.
The second thing you can do, if you want to start the conversation around healthier traditions, is to start small. Start by offering recipes that you have pulled from your gym’s nutrition website. You can find some great recipes HERE! Traditions, like healthy eating habits, don’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent; this is how you lay the foundation for healthy eating for generations to come.
Start with You
Finally, start with you. My grandmother was fond of saying, “Do as I say not as I do.” But, keeping with the tradition of overturning unhealthy habits, I’m going to improve on grandmas’ immortal words. “Do as I say because it’s the healthy thing to do.” An effective way to create positive behavior is to model positive behavior. We may be adults now and therefore no longer under the watchful eyes of our parents, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t watching us. Let’s give them something positive to look forward to.
To your Continued Success,