The Obstacle Meter – 14: Family Dynamics

14: Family Dynamics

The number of people in my household and their dietary preferences/requirements greatly affects my ability to eat healthy and/or lose weight.

If family dynamics are keeping you from eating healthy, you need to gauge the readiness of each member of your family for dietary change. Chances are that they could they benefit from a healthier diet, whether or not they need to lose weight. Depending on their needs and motivation, here are some ideas of changes you can make as a family, or that they can support you in making:


Eat In: avoid eating out.  Not only does eating out cost more but you are more likely to consume additional calories.

Tough Love: cook one healthy meal. If the kids do not like it, they can wait until the next meal to eat.  This many seem cruel and old school, but you have likely been bending over backwards all day long for a variety of other obligations (boss & co-workers), it is okay here to stand your ground.

Involve Everyone: kids love to help in the kitchen. If they help cook the healthy meals, they will be more likely to eat them too.  And for an added bonus, learning how to cook is a life skill that adolescents should know how to do anyways.  Their lives will be made much easier if they have some basic cooking skills.  Now granted, this will take some additional upfront work from you (sometimes it is easier just to do it yourself) but in the long run these trained little chefs will be able to help you out now and themselves later.

Meal Plan: make a weekly menu of healthy dinners. Create a list of options and have family members help you pick.  Not to say that you should use this as leverage against them…but you can say that I told you so if they complain about it.

Family Outings: bonding as a family does not need to revolve around eating out or getting treats. Go for bike rides, walks, bowling, a museum, recreation center, waterpark, sports game or whatever other fun activity you like to do with one another.

Dessert: make dessert a lower calorie option, such as fruit and whipped cream, or decide to only have it once a week.

Praise: reward each other with praise, time together, or simple gifts when you make healthy choices and meet goals.

Communicate: make it clear what your goals are and how the family can help you achieve them.


Separate: have adult snacks and kid snacks in different cabinets.  It can be oh so tempting to consume some of their snacks, especially if you are actively cutting back on your calories.

Be Okay with Waste: sometimes kids do not eat everything on their plate–that is okay. Throw it away instead of eating it yourself.

Try Not to Stress: if your kids do not want to eat the vegetables, do not push it. Make a good example, eat them yourself, and they will warm up to it.

Leftovers: put leftovers in the fridge right away so you do not end up grazing and adding unnecessary, mindless calories to your daily total.

Build Your Own Meals: make meals that are served in parts such as fajitas or haystacks. This way you can provide all the foods that people want to eat.

Nothing on the Counter: ask the whole family to keep food off the counter. Once they are finished snacking, they must put it away (unless we are talking about the fruit bowl of course).

Sides: consider serving vegetables as a side, even if you are the only one that eats them. Also include sides that everyone else will eat, but do not feel like you need to eat them too.

Be a Role Model: it feels good to be an example of healthy eating. Even if the family does not jump in right away, they will adjust and be better off for it.