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How To Deal With Unhealthy Family Members

unhealthy family members


“Its easier to change yourself than everyone else”    Robert T Kiyosaki

I am spending the week before Christmas at my folks place on the South Coast of NSW.

One thing I always struggle with when I come down here is the food. Actually it’s the food in the pantry to be exact. My parents aren’t exactly what I call healthy even though they do try (bless them). They really are misinformed on a lot of things and it is a good representation of the average Aussie. They eat a lot of processed food and a whole LOAD of wheat. Probably very similar to what most people their age eat.

I open the kitchen cupboard and have heart failure at all the  packaged food in the cupboard. It is so weird because in other ways they are so savy. They grow some of their own veggies and go to the farmers markets and buy local and cruelty free produce. They are also really into composting and recycling. My dad is the best re-user of things I know. He will always have another use for something rather than throwing it out.

I have been trying to slowly educate them about eating REAL food. However I am still in their eyes a little girl, so the reality of them taking everything I say on board is quite slim. I am not being negative, just realistic. It also takes time to educate people out of habits and ways of thinking that have been drilled into them for the last 30-4o years.

My Mum listens to some of the things I say. I even gave her the book ‘Grain Brain ’ to read this christmas. The problem is that my Dad is very set in his ways and loves a sweet ‘treat’. He is also extremely fussy and set in his ways about what he eats. I think my mum finds this hard as when she cooks healthy meals he complains about it, and demands to have ‘nice’ (processed) foods in the house. I think she finds this exhausting and just buys what he wants to keep the peace. The problem with this is then she also eats the food that she has bought for him as it’s in the house. When there are junk foods in the house it is hard to continually resist them. I totally get that.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

I hear plenty of people say things like ‘ It’s what the kids like’ or ‘ my husband wants it so I just buy it to keep him happy’.

The way I see it is this: if you’re the main household shopper then everyone else in the family will eat what you buy. You have the power. You have the power to create change in a whole household and someone has to take charge and be the leader. If you are the main cooker and shopper in the household you have the power to be the biggest influence on their health. In fact you already are. It is just a question of if you are utilising your power or not?

I am the main shopper in my house and my partner doesn’t really get a say in what I buy because I buy and cook the food most of the time. I just make it my aim to make amazing food so then he has nothing to complain about.

Don’t get me wrong he would still have the junk if I let him, but I don’t allow it in the house and it’s no longer even negotiable. He has recently become extremely trim and people have started to comment on how buff he is looking. Our eating is showing its results so he no longer complains (often) about not having junk in the house. His taste buds have also changed with time and his ‘ junk’ food is very different to what is was even 1 yr ago.

I mean we still go out for meals and he drink and eats whatever he wants, however I try to keep things super clean when we are eating at home. They are my rules.

Whenever you make changes people are always going to resist it. This is the same with my parent. If my mum continually made changes I am quite sure my dad would eventually get use to it. Then as his taste buds changed (and his pain) he would see the benefits, which would reinforce the changes.

It is hard when you have family that doesn’t want to listen to what you know or make the changes that you have made. Especially when you care about them. It’s really tempting to just try to shake some sense into them. This however does not work (tried and tested).

My Dad has rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease. In my opinion wheat/gluten should not be in his diet, end of story. He currently eats wheat at almost every meal. I can see the damage that this along with other foods is doing to his body. However I am his daughter so as far as he is concerned, I am over the top and excessive and as long as you have everything in ‘moderation’ it is ok. Moderation however seems to be almost every day!

What does moderation mean really anyway? It’s so subjective. Moderation for one person might be a ‘treat’ once a month and for someone else it is everyday. Like my dad, he eats cakes and other processed foods every single day and he honestly doesn’t see it as a problem. If your body is working correctly, a processed food every now and then food won’t do  much damage because you  body can handle it. It is efficiently working to eliminate the toxins efficiently. But when these foods are being consumed all the time it has an accumulative effect. It puts stress on our bodies. This long-term stress is what can lead to chronic inflammation and disease.

I have now come to the realisation that I cannot change other people unless they are willing to change themselves. Even though I want to scream and shout and get up on my high horse in order to make them see that food really matters, I can’t. When I do this it is more about my need to be right than it is about caring about their wellbeing. It is my ego that is taking over the show. As Gabrielle Bernstein would say – I am letting fear run the show. Fear that my parents will be unhealthy and die before their time is up.

The only thing I can really do is change myself and lead by example. That is what I am doing and going to continue to do. That is what I have done with my partner. I haven’t forced him to change but as I have made changes that are a must for me he has eventually adjusted and come around to the change.

I am constantly being asked by people how do I change my family ? How do I make them prioritize their health?

My answer is this.

You can’t.

Not unless they are willing to change.

Get off you evangelical soap box! You can only be the beckon of light for others and show people how it can be done. That is all. Getting all preachy on people will achieve nothing. So let it go. I have been there and sometimes I still go there. Then I have to pull it back and realise it is a waste of my energy.

Only if someone is willing can you then slowly pass on the knowledge you have in a gentle and kind way. This is what I am doing with my mum. I am slowly drip feeding her information and she is slowly making the changes. It takes time and patience.

If you family members are not willing ( like my dad) then my advice is to just concentrate on your own health and this will have an influence on the people directly around you.

That’s is all for now.

Merry Christmas & happy holidays.

JT xx

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