7 Paleo Habits of Highly Effective Families

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Are you increasingly trying to paleo-ize your family?

I went to a talk recently by John Covey (brother of Stephen of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People fame) and his wife, Jane.

John and Jane aren’t paleo (I assume) but they have been married 52 years and have a huge gob of children and grandchildren so I figured they had something to teach me.

They were a lively couple, especially Jane who was a pistol – honest, straightforward and funny.

They talked the basic precepts of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits and applied them to a family setting.

I thought they were sound.

And as I thought about them, I realized there are specific ways we can apply their teaching to the paleo family as we go through the process of moving everyone to a cleaner way of eating.

Here they are: The 7 Paleo Habits of Highly Effective Families

1. Be Proactive:

Take the initiative to improve the eating habits of the family. Make the decision that the paleo person (or one of you, if you’re both paleo and if you are, why are you reading this? You have it made! :-)) is in charge of the food – the shopping, planning, the preparing. Find paleo substitutions for family favorites. Seek out yummy recipes to replace the carb-laden ones you are used to.

2. Begin With the End in Mind:

Consider how paleo you’d like your family to be. Hard-core, 100% paleo eating only? 80/20 and a pass on holidays and birthdays? Or would you just be happy to get the three sodas-a-day habit dropped. Have a goal in mind. Imagine it. Visualize it.

3. Put First Things First:

Respect the cook who prepares the food and the person who provides the money to buy it. Thank those people. No matter what food is purchased or eaten. Make it a habit for these people to be expressly appreciated by all members of the family. ‘Thank you for a lovely meal.’ ‘Thank you for all the hard work you do for our family.’

4. Think Win-Win:

You already know what your goal is for your family. Now, understand where you are now in your family transition to paleo. From this position, what would a win for you and a win for them look like? Can you combine the two? Would he drop the idea of the store-bought Giants-themed birthday cake in favor of homemade healthy substitute and a Buster Posey bobblehead? It would cost the same and be healthier. Ask how can you get what you want, while they get what they want at the same time?

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood:

Understand the emotions driving those behaviors. Does she feed herself junk because it’s cheap and she’s worried about money? Is he stressed and in need of the comfort the carbs give him? What is causing him to ignore his latest test results? Delve a little to uncover this. Ask what and how questions. Questions starting with why often cause defensiveness so avoid using that. Only when you feel you’ve got a good understanding of your partner’s reasons for her behavior, should you explain your position.

6. Synergize:

Appreciate differences. Those emotions driving the behavior are valid. Understandable. Sometimes they are even appropriate. Use this information to brainstorm, together if possible, creative ways forward. If she’s worried about the cost of grass-fed beef (or just beef) see if there’s another area of your life where you can release money to make up the difference. Perhaps you give up a gym membership in favor of an in-home workout like Insanity or T-Tapp (aff). Or if he likes to re-experience the memories of his mom taking him to the doughnut shop by taking his own kids, perhaps he can recreate that in a different fashion. What else did his mom do with him as a child that was more healthful? Feed the ducks, go to the library?

This is creative and requires energy and practice but keep at it. Two people can become really great at this with the right attitude.

7. Sharpen The Saw

Build traditions that nurture the family and make them paleo ones. This is very poignant to me as I am in the process of replacing old family traditions with newer healthier ones. The chocolate in their stockings at Christmas, the Starbucks giftcards my kids received that made them feel so grown-up but which they would use on sugary drinks and carb-laden pastries have gone. Instead they get business cards for their fledgling enterprise and cards to buy iTunes. We go to the movies but we walk 3 miles first. We’ve even put up a pull-up bar in our kitchen so we can all practice while we wait for our meals. (The kids are impressive and put me to shame with their ability to lift their own body weight.)

As you consider these points, ask yourself:

  1. What is your goal for your paleo family?
  2. How have you changed traditions in your family to express your new beliefs?
  3. What creative solution could you set up to move you all closer to your goals?

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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Written by 

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

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