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How to Help Loved Ones Be Healthy

August 9, 2013

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Whether you’re already a health practitioner or simply passionate about health and wellness, you know that positively affecting your closest friends and family often presents the biggest challenges. Why don’t they just listen and do what’s best for them?

To you, eating whole foods, exercising, drinking water, and making time for self-care are the obvious steps to health and happiness. Watching family or close friends experience difficulties that you know can be alleviated with simple lifestyle adjustments is disheartening, if not outright frustrating.

Then again, have your frequent reminders about eating more vegetables been effective? Have your nocturnal raids of all processed snacks stopped your family from craving “junk food”? If the answer is “no,” then perhaps it’s time for a new approach.  

Here are a few tips to help you use your talents where they’re most appreciated:

Accept that you cannot help those who are not ready to help themselves. You cannot hold yourself responsible for the choices of others, and you must give loved ones space to have their own realizations about what they need.

Focus your efforts on your own health and happiness, and that of the people who actively seek your support. Your behavior will still have an indirect effect on the individuals you want to reach most. In time, they might be inspired to ask you for help.

Inspire; there are many subtle ways you can gradually effect change. For example, offer a friend a taste of a healthy meal you’ve prepared or invite them to try a new class at your gym. These minor shifts in the way you present healthier options are more likely to encourage them to make adjustments in their own lives, without feeling that they were told to do so.

How do you address the challenges of helping those who are resistant to change?

About the author

Joshua Rosenthal is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has worked in the nutrition field for more than 25 years, teaching at the school alongside health leaders including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Barry Sears. At Integrative Nutrition students are trained as Health Coaches, receiving the holistic nutrition education necessary for them go out into the world and help others improve their health and happiness.