How to avoid real food battles at home. Parents looking to increase the healthy nutritious foods in their family’s diets can often come up against a battle of wills as children, or even partners, resist changing from their familiar foods to defferent real foods.
Resistance to food changes often comes from worries about going without favourite snacks or treat, the extra time or cost real food meals may take, or concern about what colleagues or classmates will say about lunches that look different.
The good news is that there are approaches to getting around these barriers to help to bring your initially reluctant family alongside, instead of battling you at each step.
Here are our top tips to avoid real food battles and to develop a love of real foods
Think about why you want to change your family’s foods. What information, learning and experiences have led to your own interest and positive attitude, then explain this bit by bit to your family.
Follow their lead. What do they enjoy about food? Is it the shopping, eating out, cooking or choosing the menu? Build real foods into these experiences.
Explain the new approach you are hoping for and the whys.
Real food is food that is grown and harvested as naturally and sustainably as possible. Real food is nourishing, wholesome, awesome, delicious and supports your community but does your family know this?! They may be resistant as they don’t understand these concepts and feel that the decision is being taken for them. Explaining what real food is, where it comes from, the differences between regular shop foods and the upgrade foods that you are planning, how organic foods are free from the harmful chemicals of regular fruit and veggies. Start by telling them about the foods that they enjoy and the differences in how they could be produced and sourced.
Find your local farms that prioritise animal welfare, by raising free range cruelty free stock. These are better for the animals, our environment and the foods taste better.
Try to cook with or around your children and let them see you using real ingredients. Give them the opportunity to feel, touch, and experience foods and to try different types of cooking. These are essential hands-on life skills that will allow them to develop their own interest and knowledge so that they can look after themselves as adults. Increasing their knowledge and experiences could just help to win them over quicker and to start to enjoy different meals and snacks.
2. Local farms and farmers markets
Take children along to shop locally at the markets, butchers, grocers, delis and farmers markets. There they can get a feel and smell of real foods and the real people producing and selling them. They will get to see interesting foods, build up a knowledge of ingredients, meet the people involved and chat to the passionate people involved in producing great real foods.
Take them to the local farms, not just the tourist farm parks, but the real local farms to buy direct. By learning where where food comes from, how it is grown, seeing the animals, even helping out with some farm activities they will be on their own rich journey of discovery that will start to be reflected in their food knowledge and choices.
If your family are not open to the idea of full kitchen overhaul on day one then start by taking things one step at a time. Instead of removing everything unhealthy try introducing new healthy ingredients into each dish and as side dish options, so you’re creating options and normalising healthy choices.
Swap from factory farm eggs to organic free range eggs or keep your own hens! Small changes that can make a big impact on your family’s health.
We want our children to build up their knowledge, interest and love of real foods, so that they can make their own empowered decisions. They may sometimes make unhealthy choices, whilst growing to enjoy eating real foods.
When switching to real foods it may be very helpful to give your children new choices to replace their old favourites. Offer real food brownies, bliss balls, ice lollies as alternative to packet bought junk.
Let your children pick out fruits and veggies at the market and have a say about which veggies they’d like with their meals.
5. Try it
Get started by following the FREE Leafie Sugar-free Family Course for 30 days. Watching the short videos and showing the recipes to your family.
Serve vegetables or salads on a pick place, encouraging children to help themselves, so that they are in control.
Some families have adopted a ‘two bite’ challenge, where everyone in the family agrees to take two bites of a new meal or ingredient before they decide that they don’t like it.
6. Grow your own
Encourage your children to grow their own salads and vegetables. Beans are easy to grow in a tub, salad leaves in window boxes or tomato plants in their bedroom. Just a sprinkle of cress seeds could be enough to get started.
Provide children with the tools and space and allow them to manage their own plot. Children will often try something that they have grown or picked themselves that they wouldn’t touch otherwise.
Keeping hens is a lovely thing to do, if you have the space. They are great little personalities, good with children and are relatively low maintenance. They just need food, shelter and water and will repay you with tasty, nutritious eggs for your new recipes.
7. Don’t buy rubbish
Have a clear out and make your home a safe space for healthier eating and have go to healthier snack at the ready.
If you are the main shopper in your home you can choose to walk by the crisp isle and ditch the sweets for healthier treat foods, such as peanut butter on apple slices or plain popcorn.
8. Real Food Community
When most people around you don’t eat healthily it is very important to have a supportive community.
Join a local food ordering group, farm park, allotment and our friendly and supportive Leafie Facebook Community for food chat and encouragement.