If you’ve had experience in the area of improving your health status, there’s a high chance you’re aware of how challenging it is to stay consistent. Especially when others around you have different ideas or resistant to change.
Persuading others to choose health options/ increase movement/ reduce alcohol etc is a balance of emotions and reason. People don’t want a health lecture; they like to identify with their choices and be happy about them. The ironic thing is many aren’t entirely sure of what their preferences are – they just do what they know.
One essential facet of staying true to goals is to have a great support team that encourages and brings out the best in ourselves. This is made even easier if that someone is sharing similar goals. If they’re not on the same page, despite understanding the benefits (or seeing you reap the rewards), there may be an underlining negative experience or lack of confidence to begin – which is ok we just need to approach things tactfully.
It’s very true in the sense that we can’t entirely motivate others, but what we can do is offer inspiration. Lead by example, offer knowledge to problem solve, or show support when the chips are down. Until an internal shift happens, there will be no change in behaviour and more often than not will only occur when someone is ready and willing to do what has to be done.
It can be frustrating when you have the knowledge and understand unreal it feels to have energy, feel motivated and illness free, but there are some tactful ways where you won’t have to resort to drilling it into your loved ones (which may save you from ultimately being resented).
How to Tactfully Encourage Others to Choose Health
- Supermarkets are laid out to maximize exposure to what they want you to buy. This is a trick we can replicate with healthy food in the home. Reorganise snacks to place healthy foods front-and-centre. Show them off in attractive containers. Create obstacles to access ‘sometimes’ junk food (such as multiple rubber bands or paper bags). It is often a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind.
- Make impulses of the healthy kind. Buy a gorgeous fruit bowl that is inviting and creates a sense of happiness and always ensure filling the bowl full of the colour to draw attention.
- Give a healthy dish a new name that invokes brightness and laughter. You will be surprised at how something that is quite tasteless can be perceived different with a new name!
- Similar to a tactic that works with children, introduce new foods gradually by easing newcomers into dishes by siding them up with other familiar favourites. Over time the new food crowds out the old.
- Don’t flood others with too much of your food rules. They will eventually ‘get it’ when they see you vibrant and healthy. Help by figuring out a “habit loop” that makes sense to them. Habit loops evolve from behavioural psychology and involve a cue or trigger for a desired new behaviour. This is then closely followed by a routine and reward. This could look like brushing teeth straight after dinner to reduce the occurrence of late-night snacking.
- Continue to lead by example. Prove healthy habits are a sustainable way of life. Sure, not everyone prioritises health, but you’ll be surprised in the long run how subconsciously your actions will rub off others. And it was ultimately their decision.
If you wanted to turn your attention to the subject of exercise, perhaps offering to help someone create space in their day for movement is a great place to begin or simply begin a conversation about what they enjoy doing or have experienced resistance around in the past. Words are so wonderfully powerful and often something as simple as repeating out loud what is in our minds clears a path for clarity and purpose.