34 Sneaky Ways to Make Your Family Healthier (Without Them Knowing)
Have you ever heard something along the lines of “Ewww… I’m not eating that!” when you tried serving loved ones a healthy meal? If you’re trying to become more healthy and your partner and/or children don’t see the point and have no desire to change their ways, it can be a real challenge.
But don’t let their initial resistance stop you from pursuing new ways to be healthy. There are actually many simple, sneaky things you can do to improve both your health and that of reluctant members of your family… and they don’t even need to know! Read on for 34 easy ways to be healthy that are good for you and your loved ones.
What to Do About Picky Eaters?
A quick point before we dive in to the tips is understanding that you don’t actually have to get your spouse or children to do what you do. As much as you might like them to join you in your eating healthier campaign, the fact remains that forcing them into doing something they are reluctant to do almost never works. If they’re going to make lasting lifestyle changes, they will need to come to that decision themselves.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean you cannot positively influence the situation. When your partner or other family members see how much better you’re looking and feeling, you are leading by example. Sometimes people have to see before they can believe. Be patient and non-confrontational and before you know it, you’re more than likely to have a convert or two.
In the meantime, here are 34 tips to get all of you moving in the right direction.
34 Tips to Improve Your Family’s Health Without Them Noticing
#1. Switch to organic ingredients wherever possible. This helps to eliminate hidden pesticides and other dangerous chemicals. It also means you won’t be consuming genetically modified foods and other potential contaminants that are putting your loved ones at a higher risk for all sorts of health problems and diseases. An added bonus is that organic farming methods are more sustainable and easier on our already overloaded environment.
#2. Make healthy, home-cooked meals that include plenty of organic and non-GMO fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (pulses), beans, nuts, and seeds. If you haven’t been cooking meals at home, they’ll probably notice this one. 🙂 But this is truly the best way to have control over what goes into the meals your family is consuming.
#3. Be ready for the snack attack. Have plenty of healthy snacks available including fresh fruit and vegetables (already chopped), organic nut butters, popcorn (not the microwave variety − more on that later), chia seed pudding, homemade protein bars, plain yogurt, and hummus. Put the unhealthy, highly processed snacks way in the back of the cupboard, or better yet, toss them out.
#4. Steam vegetables lightly for just a few minutes rather than boiling them into a mush. This retains the maximum nutrients possible, and they also have more flavor.
#5. Replace ordinary table salt with an unrefined, high quality salt. Most of us are getting too much of the wrong kind of salt in our diets. Table salt, although fortified with iodine, is bleached and devoid of minerals and trace elements. Rather than improving health, regular table salt can have quite the opposite effect. Even sea salt can be an unhealthy choice these days, owing to increasing ocean contamination and the presence of microplastics. Other better salt options include Himalayan pink salt, Persian blue salt, Murray River salt from Australia, Hawaiian red salt, and Hawaiian black lava salt – all of which are rich in minerals and trace elements.
#6. Try adding freshly chopped herbs in addition to (or in lieu of) using quality salt for seasoning. In addition to being flavorful, fresh, organic herbs contain loads of nutrients.
#7. Substitute organic, low-sodium soy sauce for regular soy sauce in a recipe. Most of the soy grown in the U.S. is genetically modified, so stick to organic versions only. Another great option is to try some coconut aminos in place of soy sauce.
#8. Switch to healthier oils for cooking. Vegetable oils are known as some of the worst offenders when it comes to causing inflammation. Oils to avoid include canola, soy, sunflower, safflower, and cottonseed oils. Much better, healthier oils include extra virgin olive oil, avocado, almond, coconut, sesame, walnut, flaxseed, unrefined palm, butter, or ghee. Take care with some of these oils, however, as some of them are heat sensitive and best used for making things like salad dressings. Others are good for cooking.
#9. Substitute that convenient but fake “whipped cream” in the frozen dairy food section with real whipped cream. It might take a couple more minutes to prepare, but real whipped cream doesn’t have all the added sugar and hydrogenated fats. You can also easily make a non-dairy, vegan whipped cream using coconut cream and vanilla or soaked cashews.
#10. Cook your rice, quinoa, and other grains in bone broth instead of water. Bone broth provides you with an incredibly concentrated source of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, collagen, and vital proteins your body needs to thrive.
#11. Substitute regular wheat pasta with organic whole grain or quinoa pasta.
#12. Substitute regular wheat flour in a recipe with gluten-free flour and one teaspoon xanthan gum (per cup of regular flour in the recipe) for a gut-friendly alternative.
#13. Serve every evening meal with a big green salad. Heart-healthy greens such as kale, spinach, arugula, and watercress can be used in place of (or in addition to) lighter and more watery greens like iceberg lettuce and romaine. This provides a big boost of healthy nutrients and phytochemicals.
#14. Make your own salad dressings rather than relying upon bottled salad dressing. This helps you to eliminate the added sugar, unhealthy fats, table salt, and preservatives typically found in store-bought bottled dressings. Simply combine freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice or balsamic vinegar with extra virgin olive oil (or other healthy oil of your choice) in a 2:1 ratio. Then to customize it by adding things like freshly chopped herbs, garlic, freshly ground black pepper, Dijon mustard, and/or a drizzle of honey. This creates a healthy and delicious dressing that’s so much better for you than the grocery store bottled variety.
#15. Instead of croutons on the salad, sprinkle it liberally with nuts like almonds, cashews, pecans, or walnuts for a dose of healthy fats. Roasted chickpeas are another healthy crouton replacement.
#16. Instead of buying flavored yogurt, take plain Greek yogurt and add your own additions. This could include any or all of the following for a delicious and much more nutritious breakfast or snack option: vanilla protein powder, organic berries, chopped unsalted nuts, ground flaxseed, cinnamon or vanilla, and a drizzle of honey.
#17. Substitute chopped dates or unsweetened applesauce for sugar in a recipe. There are lots of resources online to help you figure out how to substitute healthier sweeteners for table sugar. Simply Google “sugar substitutes for baking.”
#18. Serve sparkling water with fruit slices or a drop or two of citrus essential oils instead of sugar- and chemical-laden sodas. (For more healthy water options, check out our Detox Water recipes.)
#19. Swap some or all of the chocolate chips in a recipe for cacao nibs. While they are a little more bitter, they are still delicious. This is how chocolate chips start life anyway, and this eliminates the sugar and other additives.
#20. Baking a cake? Trade some of the butter in chocolate icing with an equal amount of avocado. It will be deliciously creamy, you won’t taste the avocado, but you will add vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.
#21. If making a pie with a graham cracker crumb base, swap out the cracker crumbs for an organic, whole grain, high-fiber crunchy cereal crushed up in the food processor.
#22. Baking a fruit pie? Rather than using lard or butter in the pie crust, substitute 100 percent fruit spread. By adding fruit spread to the dry ingredients (just enough to help it hold together) this cuts the cholesterol and saturated fat. Also, the natural flavors of the fruit will complement what’s in your pie.
#23. Substitute cauliflower for white potatoes in many recipes, and grated steamed or stir-fried cauliflower makes a good substitute for white rice. These cauliflower substitutes are especially helpful if you’re following a low carb or ketogenic diet. (Click here to learn how to make Tangy Cauliflower Rice.)
#24. If you’re still using margarine, stop! The reasons are numerous: it’s high in unhealthy fats, made with genetically modified ingredients, lacking in vitamins and minerals, and full of trans-fatty acids. Using margarine on your toast and in your cooking is more like using plastic! Substitute with real butter, or for an even healthier vegan option, use mashed avocado or unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana for the fat in a recipe.
#25. Substitute organic almond, rice, or hemp seed milk for cow’s milk in recipes. Many people have an intolerance to cow’s milk and are lacking the lactase enzyme required to break it down in the gut. Cow’s milk may be fine for calves, but it’s not a great health food for humans. If do you use dairy, stick to organic versions.
#26. Substitute coconut milk for heavy cream in many recipes. Place a can of coconut milk in the fridge for several hours and use the thick cream that rises to the top of the can. (For a yummy Pumpkin Pie Pudding recipe that uses coconut cream, click here.)
#27. Need a healthy vegan substitute for eggs? Try flaxseed! For each egg called for in a recipe, mix one tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of warm water; whisk it up and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes prior to substituting it for an egg in any baked recipe.
#28. If you eat bread, ditch the processed white bread and choose organic, whole grain or sourdough bread instead. Processed white bread has very little nutrition or fiber and too many chemicals and carbs. Whole grain bread (particularly when made with heirloom grains) offers some vitamins, minerals, and beneficial fiber for the gut. Sourdough bread is a fermented food which has benefits for your gut microbiome.
#29. Use dried beans instead of canned beans. It might take a little more forethought and effort (just some easy soaking and boiling) but they are tastier, you avoid the excess sodium and preservatives, and save money at the same time. Not to mention that the lining of cans is a source of harmful BPA. If you do use canned foods, look for cans marked as BPA-free.
#30. When having pancakes or waffles, swap ordinary white flour for whole grain or buckwheat. Rather than loading pancakes with processed syrup, top them with fresh fruit like sliced bananas, blueberries, or strawberries and a light drizzle of raw honey or real maple syrup. (For a tasty pancake recipe that doesn’t use any flour at all, check out our Healthy Chocolate Banana Bread Pancake recipe.)
#31. Serve sweet potato fries rather than ordinary fries. They are loaded with far more minerals and vitamins than their white cousins, and contain fewer carbs.
#32. Make your own trail mix. Premade mixes are usually filled with candy, dried fruit of questionable origin, and salted nuts. You can easily make your own trail mix with organic unsalted nuts, dark chocolate nibs, and organic dried fruit.
#33. Stop making microwave popcorn – it’s about as unhealthy a food as can possibly be imagined. First off, the bag is lined with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is a potential carcinogen. Second, many of the ingredients are genetically modified, and hydrogenated fats and artificial flavors are frequently used. Instead, get yourself a hot-air popcorn machine. It’s very quick to use and the family will love it. Top popcorn with a little melted organic butter or coconut oil, add a sprinkling of hemp seeds or sesame seeds and a little pink salt, and you have a real, healthy food.
#34. Lastly, but most importantly, make the time as often as possible to sit down and eat as a family. Doing this is great for the mental health of each member of the family and meal time is a good time to reconnect and see how everyone is doing and provide support for one another.
We hope you have enjoyed these 34 ways to become more healthy. Be sure to comment below with your favorites and let us know if you have something to add to the list.