Sometimes a family member or friend needs encouragement to make a healthy change. Try these tips to start a conversation about eating healthy. Remember, you are coming from a place of sincere concern for your loved one, so remember to stay kind when having this kind of conversation, and to be genuine in your help to them.
Offer to help.
Offering to help is where you should start. Make sure your loved one knows you’re ready to support them.
- Let your friend or family member know you’re on their side. Ask, “How can I help you eat healthy?”
- Acknowledge that changing habits is hard. Ask, “What’s the hardest thing about eating healthy? What can I do to support you?”
- Celebrate successes. Say, “I’m so proud of you for making this change and sticking to it.”
Say why eating healthy is important.
Eating healthy is important. Hands down. Eating healthy is the first step to health. Eating well is associated with cancer prevention, and overall better health. Eating well is not just something you should do to please your doctor; it is something you should do to please yourself. Eating healthy is doing your body a favor, because your body requires the nutrients that help it run and for you to avoid the ingredients that make you feel unwell and negatively impact your health.
You can say:
- “Your health is important to me. I care about you and want you to live a healthy life.”
- “A healthy diet can help you stay active as you get older, giving you more time to spend with your loved ones and do the activities you enjoy.”
Talk about small steps.
Remember not to overload your loved one with too much at one time. Rome was not built in a day, and neither is building healthy habits. Eating healthier is a slow process when done correctly, and you should encourage this person with recommending simple switches and introducing healthy foods into the diet gradually.
- “Healthy eating isn’t all or nothing. You can eat healthy and still enjoy the foods you love. How do you feel about trying some small changes?”
- “Can I help you think of some healthy shifts that would be doable for you? What are some foods or ingredients you would be willing to swap out for healthier options?”
Offer simple suggestions:
- Be ready with some ideas, like drinking water instead of soda, eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, or using olive oil instead of butter.
- Keep it manageable — encourage your friend or family member to pick 1 or 2 ideas to start.
Take the lead. Do it together.
Offer to make healthy changes with your loved one! You can go as far as to plan to grocery shop with them, and beforehand, you can discuss healthy options and building a healthy shopping list. You can also encourage this individual by eating meals with them, and being encouraging along the way. You can say:
- “There are simple things we can do, like having oatmeal or whole-grain cereal for breakfast instead of sweets.”
- “Let’s go grocery shopping together for healthy choices.”
- “Let’s try to cook and enjoy a healthy meal together at least twice a week.”
- “Let’s try eating some vegetables with dinner. How does x and x sound?”
- “Next time we go out to eat, let’s share a meal. Or we can each order our own, but only eat half — we can save the other half for lunch the next day.”
Above all else, remember that your loved one may be struggling to change their diet for numerous reasons, and you should be acting from a place of love and not from judgement.