Making Health Choices as a Family

How do you get your family to adopt better health habits?  At Beyond Health we get this question a lot, especially from people who’ve read one of Raymond Francis’s books and have become convinced they want to make some major changes in their lifestyle.  Here are some ideas.

First, make time to talk with your spouse or other adult members of the family about your family’s health and what you’ve been learning. They may be “ripe for the picking” and enthusiastic about your ideas. Or they may be ready to make some changes, and not others. You may be excited about going raw and vegan; they may want hot, cooked meals for dinner. You may want to refuse vaccinations for your children; they may want to do more research first before taking such an unpopular stance.

Encourage them to empower themselves by reading Raymond Francis’s book The Great American Health Hoax, so it’s not just you who’s supplying information. The Maintenance List chapter alone is worth the price of the book and may be a real eye-opener for them, motivating them to learn how to slow the aging process and stay in good health for a lifetime.

Fortunately most people these days are aware of the need to be more conscious about health choices, so your chances of finding a receptive ear in your partner are good, providing you’re willing to compromise.

Also, bear in mind that this adventure is something new and can be fun.  There will be new recipes to eat, perhaps more time outdoors, feeling better and stronger.  Be sure to ask for support in ways that will make it easiest and most fun for you, like childcare while you exercise or meditate, or dates to exercise as a couple or as a family.

Another thing to keep in mind is that although change can be fun and exciting, too much change can be destabilizing and even overwhelming.  So decide together what steps you want to take, one at a time.

Schedule regular meetings with your partner to monitor how things are going and make new decisions as different situations arise.

Second, have a family meeting with kids who are old enough to participate.  You and your partner will have decided beforehand what new rules are non-negotiable and where the kids can exercise their personal choice.  In the same way that you came to mutual decisions as parents, allow compromises and mutual decisions with your children so they have their say.

Just as you’ve had, or will have, “the talk” about sex and drugs with your children, there is a talk to be had about health. Teach them that not all foods are safe and that one of the most important ways we have of taking care of ourselves is to be smart about making good food choices.  Take them food shopping and explain why you pass up the fruit loops and choose the organic pears.  Take them to the Farmers Market and have conversations with the farmers so your children begin to understand where good food comes from. It would be ideal to start a family vegetable garden or a windowsill herb garden.

Help children become aware of how eating different foods makes them feel as well as how it tastes.  They may notice, for example, that sugar tastes good, but it makes them feel racy or hyped up and that they crash later and get grumpy.

Children are curious and have an instinct for self-preservation, so there will be many opportunities to teach them important lessons about health as you learn and change yourself.  Especially if you make it an adventure that the family is undertaking together.

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