One of the most powerful ways to influence those around you is by becoming the change you want to see in the world. This is especially true with regards to children because they look up to adults as role models, so be a positive one.
If family and friends actually see you making changes in your own life — instead of just preaching to them — they are more likely to be receptive to your message of good health. If you impose your opinions and advice onto others, they may not be ready to hear your advice, or they might not think that they are capable of making meaningful changes.
Once it is evident that the changes you have made in your own life are leading to results, they are more likely to come to you for help when they are ready. In doing this, you are respecting yourself by living more healthily and are respecting the space of others, while also being a positive influence with your actions and not just your words.
Make healthy food fun
A lot of people unfortunately believe that unhealthy food is tastier than healthy food. Prove them wrong. Make dishes that are flavorful and full of nutrients and share them with loved ones. Present the food in a creative way that will entice your guests. Some fun ways I have experimented with getting people to eat more fruits and veggies is by baking veggie chips, apple chips, avocado fries and veggie burgers.
For kids, make food art from fruits and veggies, incorporate dipping sauces for raw foods, or give them rewards for eating healthy foods that they don’t like. For a double-dose of health, make one of the rewards a free pass to go outside to play.
Sneak in nutrients
Whether your picky eater is an adult or a child, sometimes presenting food in a fun way won’t work. For these individuals, you can easily sneak in fruits and veggies by processing them into smaller chunks or making them completely invisible in a blender. Add them to cakes, savory gluten-free breads, fruit leather “roll-ups,” smoothies, ice-cream or frozen yogurt, tomato sauces and soups.
Some vegetables will compliment fruit in recipes, like carrots and apples, while others are easy to sneak in, like spinach or avocado. One fun way to sneak in avocado is to make chocolate pudding with avocado as the base. It takes only seconds to make and if you sweeten it with honey and add some cocoa, they won’t even know the difference.
Exercise with your kids
When I was really young, I remember watching my mom exercising to VHS tapes. I mimicked her behavior and joined her, even though I had no idea what I was doing. Instead of fighting to find time for exercise, incorporate exercise into your life and invite your kids to come along. Show your kids how to touch their toes, race with them down the block, play tag or kickball, practice yoga and meditation — the possibilities are endless.
If your partner or spouse is also struggling to balance work, life and spending time with you and the family, get him or her to join you and the kids for exercise activities, or jog together and talk, or practice yoga. These activities will not only help you both unwind, but also encourage conversation and connection in a way that is active and beneficial to your health and overall well-being.
Cook with your kids or spouse
Many adults find cooking to be a tedious chore that takes away from free time, while many others don’t even know how to cook. Make cooking a part of your day that allows you to connect with your loved ones by involving them in the process. If you don’t know how to cook, learn together.
Either way, you are teaching your kids a valuable life skill and reconnecting with your family by working together toward a common goal. Becoming more involved in the food you make can lead to a greater appreciation for healthy food and help to break the habit of eating out.
Find fun alternatives to going to restaurants
Whenever friends or family members want to catch up, they almost always seem to want to meet at a cafe or restaurant. Instead of going out to eat, have a picnic. Bring healthy finger foods or a whole meal to a park, beach or your backyard. You can play games or just talk and enjoy each other’s company and the natural setting. If you have a free guest pass for your gym, ask if they would like to join you.
If they want to go shopping and eat afterward, ask if they would like to join you for a jog into town and bring snacks. Have a bonfire and tell stories, and dance while the food is roasting. Have a barbeque gathering to catch up and share grilled whole foods.
Camping is another great option to connect with loved ones in a way that is both active and fun. You can introduce kids to foraging fruits, nuts and herbs with apps that help you know which plants you can forage. Teach them about the wild animals in your area and show them survival skills, such as how to pitch a tent or read a compass. Build a campfire and bring healthy foods for a stew or to roast over the open fire.
This is a great way to encourage an active lifestyle because no one will feel like they are exercising. Kids won’t miss their game systems when there is so much to explore and to do. This is also a great way to bond with your partner or reconnect with old friends. Doing fun things like camping can encourage a more active lifestyle in a way that just naturally flows.
Make holidays proactive events
People normally come together to enjoy the holidays over food and gifts. Make your gatherings more meaningful and memorable by incorporating activities. Have an Easter egg hunt, play lawn games, have a water balloon or water gun fight, have a slip-and-slide or small yard pool, do art-and-craft projects together, have contests to see who can pick out the best pumpkin at a pumpkin patch or Christmas tree at a tree lot, bake healthy festive treats together, go swimming or camping on the fourth of July, or build a fire with a Yule log and tell stories. There are so many ways to be active mentally, physically and mindfully over the holidays. Create new traditions and engage everyone in a totally unique way.
Bring healthy meals to family gatherings
People tend to stick with safe meals that they know everyone will love. Whether it’s processed hot dogs or deep fried anything, you can be the positive influence who brings healthy delectables instead. Especially when kids are at family gatherings, most people just bring the standard staple foods such as chips and dip. You can bring foods they will be curious to try, like kale chips, or sneak in some veggies with a healthy dipping sauce.
You can bring something that people enjoy but wouldn’t think to bring, like sushi, or something people may have never tried, like Indian dal. Think outside the box with flavors and you’ll bring something everyone will be talking about. Sharing your passion for healthy food can be an enjoyable experience that can inspire your loved ones to also think outside the box and try new things.
Share your results and story
One powerful way to make a difference in the lives of those around you is to not only walk the walk and lead by example, but also to share your results and let them know how you got to where you are today. Because they know you, you can more easily relate to them and help them in a way that a personal trainer or dietician could not. Every time you are with them, your eating habits and healthy body will be reminders of how you can do it — and so can they. You are like an approachable walking and talking guide to what works and how to come back from failure. Share your story. You never know who you will inspire.
Show others how to make healthy food on-the-go
In today’s hustle and bustle lifestyle, it can be difficult to find healthy meals that are quick and easy to make and can be eaten on-the-go. To sustain a healthy lifestyle over the long haul, it is important to learn how to balance your schedule. If you have this down pat and people are coming to you for advice on how they can eat healthily despite their busy schedule, don’t tell them, teach them. Give them recipes, demonstrate how quick those meals are to make, and show them ways they can package the food to take it with them. It’s one thing to tell people how to do it, but if they see how easy and quick it is to do, they are more likely to try it out themselves.
Make exercise accessible to the busy bees
Another way you can provide helpful advice to those who want to be lean and fit, or just healthier in general, is to show them how to fit exercise into their busy schedule. With work, family life, social events and other responsibilities, it can seem impossible to squeeze in an adequate amount of exercise each week to be even remotely worth the effort.
Some people can only exercise in the early morning hours, some exercise during their lunch break, others at night, and some do a little at a time throughout the day. Take them to the gym or to a local park to exercise with you. On weekends, bring your families together for active play. Show them that it’s possible. Never impose yourself on them as that will only further deter them. Wait for them to come to you if and when they are ready to make changes.
Play sports with family and friends
One of the most enjoyable ways to share a healthy lifestyle is to team up with family and friends for at-home or at the park sport events. This is a great idea to get the men in your life involved, as well as children. You can host events and send them all invites over the phone or Facebook, or you can host one as just one of many events at a family or friends gathering. You can play tag football, kickball, baseball or softball, soccer, roller hockey, tennis, badminton, volleyball, a relay race, an obstacle course, or whatever you choose.
Create outdoor games for your family to play
There are many ways to engage your family in fun physical activities that are not considered sports. Grab some water guns, water balloons, paintball guns, flying kites, throwing frisbees and many other activities. Be as creative as you want with this. You can even create your own family games. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. You can also allow your guests to help develop game rules and objectives. This more engaging technique will get them excited to play and will encourage them to want to play outside activities more often.
Make-believe with your kids indoors
Children are naturally energetic and creative. Instead of encouraging them to sit and be still, we can encourage healthy behaviors regardless of the weather. Play with your children or relatives’ children. Allow them to make the rules to a game or live out a dream-like fantasy. This is great for developing creative-thinking skills, boosting self-esteem, developing problem-solving skills, encouraging physical and mental activity, and unplugging them from the tethering cords of their electronic devices. Playtime for children is a time for learning and exploration. You can make any of their imaginative activities more active by incorporating a physical element to the game. Even playing with Barbies or Legos can be active if you imagine it.
Introduce loved ones to new fruits and veggies
If your family members or friends want to eat better, but are discouraged because they believe they do not like fruits or vegetables, introduce them to new ways to enjoy them. If they still don’t like something, even when it is hidden and well-combined in the meal, then take a different approach. Introduce them to new fruits and vegetables. Most people don’t know that the durian fruit tastes like sweet custard or that jackfruit can be used as a pulled-pork replacement.
There are so many fruits and vegetables we have yet to even discover. So explore local and exotic flavors, and once you find something that is both unique and tasty, share it with friends and see how they like it. Adding diversity to your diet is not only more satisfying, but is actually good for you because you are adding a wider variety of nutrients.
Adapt their favorite meals
Instead of introducing them to new foods, you can also re-introduce them to their favorite meals. Make their favorite dishes, but with a healthier twist. This works great on children and adults alike. This is due to the “out of sight, out of mind” concept, but also works if the things they like most about their favorite dishes remain intact. If they are receptive, adapt it a little more with other healthy ingredients. For instance, I tricked someone into thinking they were eating meatloaf by seasoning it the same way but using turkey instead. Pasta is easy to transform by adding things to the sauce or by using a gluten-free, whole food pasta instead.
Biking, jogging or walking around town is a significantly different experience than driving. If you’ve ever experienced nature or the atmosphere of your city with greater appreciation as a result, share this with someone who you know will appreciate it. Explore together your local architecture or natural settings, go foraging, pick through local organic farms, or venture into an area you have never explored before. Visit museums, aquariums or zoos. Life is an adventure and experiencing life together through each other’s eyes is both rewarding and healthy. Some fresh air and fun is always a good idea.
Take classes together
If you belong to a gym or club, invite your friends or family to join you. Often there are people who want to try something but are afraid to do so alone, or don’t want to invest money into something they aren’t sure they’ll enjoy.
Introduce them to new classes or take them to some of their old favorites. They’ll meet new people, enjoy the experience and have a workout all at the same time! If you have kids, bring them to your classes and allow them to try some of the moves with the guidance of the instructor. They will be surrounded by adults who will be supportive and are potential role models as well. It’s also a good bonding experience around a healthy habit that will hopefully carry on to adulthood.
When you do use video game consoles or PC games with friends, make the games more interesting by adding a physical or mental element. This will make it more challenging or just more fun. You’ll be the gaming central for your friends as they tell others about your unique twist. This also works when playing with your family. If kids are involved, make changes so that the games are easier and more active, or more creative to retain their attention.
The point is, there are many ways — other than telling someone to change — to encourage and support healthy lifestyle choices. What are some ways you inspire positive lifestyle changes? Share with us what has worked for you. If something didn’t work, why do you think that is? Leave your answers below so we can support each other in promoting a healthy lifestyle.