The definition of the word ‘diet’ has changed over the years. It is now associated with negative feelings and actions towards food.

The accurate definition of diet, as stated in the Oxford English Dictionary, is; the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.

The definition, however, has taken a major turn and according to Merriam-Webster.com, diet is now defined as; to eat less food or to eat only particular kinds of food in order to lose weight.

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Assigning the word ‘diet’ to a change in how you are eating may bring about negative feelings and resistance towards the change. Instead, an approach of improvement in your eating habits and lifestyle can lead the way towards an enjoyable and adventurous experience for your entire family.

Four ways to know if you and your family are ready for eating and lifestyle changes

1. Do you have concerns about your child or spouse’s health?

Have you noticed your child or spouse eating a lot of sugar or fat-laden foods? You know that a diet high in any of those nutrients can have an undesirable effect on their body. This can lead to chronic health conditions, such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and more.

If you notice their eating pattern may be leading them to one of the above conditions, it is important for you to step in. These conditions can cause other health complications and the sooner their eating pattern changes, the lower their health risk.

2. Did your child or your spouse come to you with concerns about your health?

Maybe you are busy and stressed out with work or other aspects of your life and you haven’t been nourishing your body right. Has a family member noticed? Are they concerned for you?

It is important to take care of yourself the same way you take care of your family.

3. Did your child or spouse come to you with concerns about their own health?

Having your child or spouse come to you and express concerns about their own health can be alarming, but it can be a step in the right direction. It is important to work with them and figure out what steps they want to take next and to do it together.

4. Is the whole family on the same page? Do you all agree that everyone’s eating pattern will benefit from a change?

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Changing your habits can be a very difficult, but rewarding task.

If some of your family members are interested in changing eating behaviors and food choices, but others are not, this can be challenging. Holding a family meeting or individually talking with family members can help you overcome this challenge and get everyone on the same page.

Having the family on the same page is the first step. The next step is to actually make the changes.

Here are 6 tips to help change your family’s habits:

1. Start with small changes, one at a time. It can be hard to change your habits, so do not attempt to do it all at once. Small changes equal big results.

2. Introduce new foods gradually and serve them with foods everyone is used to.

3. Make meal preparation time a family activity. Let the kids pick what vegetables they want for dinner and have them help cook. Getting your children involved can help them be more adventurous with their food choices. They are more likely to try a new vegetable if they helped prepare it.

4. Plan your meals in advance. Write a weekly menu and then you can make a grocery list to go along with it. This can help with the meal preparation and make grocery shopping a little bit easier.

5. Avoid severe restrictions and rules. Each person in the family may have different likes, dislikes and nutritional needs. Be sure to incorporate variety among meals and ask everyone what they like to eat.

6. Exercise is just as important to your overall health as what you are eating is. Incorporate family activities to gain the most from your family’s lifestyle changes.

Making changes as a family can provide you with motivation and cheerleaders

You are each other’s support system and sounding board. The entire family will also reap many benefits from eating nutritious meals together. Stepping away from the TV and using meal time as a way to talk about your day or the new foods you are exploring can help make changes to your eating pattern last forever.

Connect here with WatchFit Expert Bonnie Giller

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