Preparing real food instead of serving processed food is an act of love toward yourself and those you cook for.
That includes me.
So, I have something to tell you: Thank you.Your Future Self
How others influence what you eat
It’s naive to assume behavior change is simple. We’ve already established that the food industry has a stake in influencing your behavior, and they take their efforts seriously.
There are countless other factors influencing what you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat, and one of those factors is other people. That includes your spouse, your children, whoever cooks your meals, your friends, your co-workers, and the perfect strangers who collectively cleared the cauliflower shelf in your grocery store. Hmm…
Human influences offer seriously persuasive powers. If you love the other person, you will likely consider their food preferences, dietary restrictions, and input as much or more often than your own. It may be simpler to sacrifice your own standards of eating than it is to plan meals that meet both of your needs or preferences.
There are emotional reasons we cater to others. Perhaps we value another’s joy, comfort, or contentment more than our own. Or perhaps they have special needs, strong aversions, or stubborn opinions. Feeding or cooking for another person is an act of love. We demonstrate that we care by meeting another’s most basic need.
There are practical reasons we cater to others. Perhaps the other in your life is pickier, more demanding, or less open-minded than you are. It certainly is impractical to cook or procure two different meals all the time.
There are social reasons we let others influence our food choices. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings when they offer us a home-made confection. Or, if you don’t have cake at an office birthday party, the honoree may feel as if you aren’t willing to celebrate them.
But, you’re forgetting something. Your standards, preferences, and enthusiasm for real food have the power to influence others just as strongly as they influence you.
Processed food is hard to resist, but real food is powerful. It makes you look and feel great, and that is persuasive in it’s own way.
How to influence others to eat more real food
Make your real food really appealing. Use fresh ingredients with vibrant colors and flavorful aromas. Garnish your plate artfully. Appeal to your own senses and your real food will begin to appeal to the senses of those around you.
Demonstrate how great real food makes you feel. Verbally attribute your positive attitude, increased energy, and glowing skin to the real food you’re eating.
When it’s your birthday or special event, insist that any and all food at the party be real food.
Lead the real food movement you wish to see. Your workplace won’t stop providing free sodas and processed snacks unless someone demands a change and proposes a better idea.
Implement a stoplight system (green for go ahead, that’s real food; yellow for use caution, that’s borderline; and red for ultraprocessed products) in your home kitchen or break room, even if you think no one notices. Trust us. They do.
Offer children two real food options. They will feel empowered by the choice, and you won’t mind which they choose.
Create a small lending library for your friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers comprised of books that inspire you to eat real food.
Get your family more connected to food sources. Start gardening on a small scale with fresh herbs in a container garden. Visit a farm and pick fruit when it’s in season. Buy direct from the farmer at a farmer’s market or through a CSA. Ask about how their animals are raised or what variety of peaches they grow and why. Involve children in cooking.
Have a real food alternative for any processed foods your loved ones insist on eating. If pasta is on the menu for everyone else, make some fun zucchini noodles for yourself. Someday they’ll get curious about your curly, colorful zoodles.
Learn to make your own forms of commonly processed foods. Yogurt, nut butters, and hummus are all easy to make yourself, and you can control the ingredients.
Ask that your loved ones give you one week of committing to eating real food together as a favor, a courtesy, or even as a birthday or holiday gift.
Arm yourself with a stock phrase to use any time someone offers you food that you really don’t want. Make it polite, but to the point. Then change the subject. A compliment works nicely.
Use a processed food label as a vocabulary test for your children. Ask them what they think carrageenan is. Look it up together. Ask them if they can picture it growing in nature. Use it as a teaching moment. Let them come to the conclusion that it isn’t real food, and, if you’re using the stoplight method, ask them what color that food deserves.
Tell somebody, anybody, that you’re committed to eating more real food. Tell them what real food is, why you’re doing it, how you’re doing it, and what the benefits are.
Connect with other participants in our forum. Tell us why you’re motivated to take the Real Food Challenge.