In yesterday’s Monday Mission, I asked you to share your top 3 real food strategies to really make it happen and stick to it.
Today, I want to discuss the hard part – the biggest challenges people face as they transition to (or try to keep up with) a real food lifestyle.
We talked about this question on Facebook a few months back, and today I’m going to list the top challenges from this conversation and start to answer them with my best suggestions – I invite you to chime in via the comments as well!
I asked, “As you transitioned to real food, what did you find to be the biggest challenge?”
The Curse of the Clock
The hardest part of real food for most is TIME, which makes sense – convenience food is called so for a reason. I totally empathize with this problem, as I always feel behind and underwater when it comes to to-do lists myself!
Unfortunately, there’s no easy or comprehensive answer for that one – each situation is going to be different. When, for example, “Teaching kids to help out,” works for one family, it’s not so effective if you only have a toddler.
I offer plenty of time-saving tips in the archives at KS, including these:
- Be prepared for quick meals
- 5 Crazy Ways I Save on Kitchen Prep Time
- Mary & Martha Moment: Balancing Time, Family and Food
When Husbands Aren’t on Board
Many on that thread, and other readers over the years, struggle with being united as a couple with their husband. Many husbands resist real food. (Not all of them of course! Some men chase real food with more urgency than women, but in my experience over the last 5 years of listening to people make positive healthy changes, husbands can be trouble for goals.)
The husbands who aren’t on board tend to enjoy their snacks and junk food, they may not believe that healthy food is important, they may have deep-seeded habits, or they may simply lack will power, partly because they’re not fully invested.
My story is one of the “success stories” on the husband front – my husband grew up on a Standard American Diet, and even after being diagnosed and having surgery for Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disease in the gut, no one talked to him about how he ate.
He begrudgingly put up with some of our changes for the first four or five years after our oldest child was born, but he didn’t buy into it all.
Two things happened to turn the tables:
1. He saw real food completely knock out some nasty Crohn’s symptoms that doctors had not been able to touch.
2. He started to own his own health, committing to work out and eat better, and when he tasted success, it motivated him to do more.
He is a man who used to hate running and has now done a half marathon. A man who used to drink soda daily and hasn’t had a sip in nearly two years. A man who is challenging his friends to embark on a shared “get healthy” challenge, where they will set goals, work out for 90 days straight, and support each other through daily check-ins.
He owns his health, cares about his body, and, because he’s seen good things happen, he’s down with my nutritional philosophy of traditional foods, healthy fats, low gluten/grains and more.
Here’s another great spouse success story from a reader on that thread:
So very blessed my husband jumped on board quickly … We are not looking back … He and I have lost 20 plus pounds and he has suffered with daily headaches for 30 yrs taking a concoction of meds to alleviate the pain but after six weeks of real while food, he is a walking testimony to the benefits since he has only had two bad headaches and he notices his energy in the afternoon. For those with stubborn husband issues, I recommend looking for ways to fix a few loved recipes with whole real food … Many sources of recipes and blogs and but in general keep making new stuff they will learn to like it when they see the benefits. Really they have to want to feel better.
Believe that it’s possible! For some ideas about how to go about a real food lifestyle when hubby isn’t with you:
- How to Feed a Husband Real Food
- How to Boil a Husband (sounds problematic, I know…just trust me. This step is integral to my husband’s real food conversion!)
Getting Out of the Clutch of the Box
I saw another trend on the Facebook thread about breaking old habits, particularly when it came to thinking beyond boxed or canned side dishes and recipe ingredients for dinner.
A few quotes:
“Boxed side dishes for dinner, like rice-a-roni”
“Too many recipes use packaged ingredients.”
I still have a hard time rethinking a “meal” when some meat, a box of side dish (rice a roni, mac n cheese, etc), and a can for veggies was what I did for so long
And it IS very tricky! Unless you’re running in real food circles, a lot of recipes you find online and via Pinterest still include processed junk – taking the time to cook from scratch and be foiled because it’s still not even “from scratch” is NO FAIR.
It’s really the reason I wrote Better Than a Box in the first place and the precise mission of the 200+ page book: to help people take their own favorite recipes that include processed ingredients and transform them into real food meals the family still recognizes and enjoys.
(All my books are 50% off through Saturday if you buy at least 3, by the way! See them all HERE.)
Some “out of the box” ideas to combat old habits:
- Use frozen veggies instead of canned. Far more nutrients and just as easy. Everyone needs a quick side and a little grace.
- Offer simple cut raw veggies and a yummy dip – you can make the dip outside of the frenzied meal prep time and hopefully it will last a few days, too. (Probiotic avocado dip and garlic sweet potato dip are two examples, with more in Better Than a Box, Healthy Snacks to Go, and The Family Camping Handbook.)
- Plan sides right along with the meal, so that you know what you’re making. Sometimes deciding is half the battle, so don’t leave that part until 5 p.m.
- Try these simple sides, many of which make enough for more than one meal – leftovers always simplify things!
More to Come…
That thread was packed with ideas that deserve addressing, so the first three here are “part one” of Real Food Challenges – I’ll probably get another blog post out of this remaining list this month, and I’m thinking perhaps the February monthly newsletter will cover the rest:
- eating on the go (especially with little ones)
- old temptation, habits
- learning to cook and prioritizing it, knowing what ingredient does what
- healthy recipes that taste good – can’t afford to waste ingredients and time on flops!
- sourcing real food
- eating out
- too much information to sift through
- meal planning
- extended family and culture of treats everywhere, school and the same
What responses to you have to the time/husbands/habits challenges? I can’t wait to hear!
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Clock image from Pixabay.