There are many things you should do before you change your family’s diet. How do I know this? Because I did it all wrong. It was like taking those slow steps backwards when you accidentally run into a skunk while you are putting out the garbage or when you’re out for an early run.

Not a pretty situation.

The day we pulled my son off gluten was so emotionally stressful. Back then there was virtually no information online or I just did not know how to find it. I kept searching for someone I could consult with who could hold my hand, tell me it would be OK and show me what to do!

I was left to do it on my own. I simply took everything away. Anything that had wheat or I thought may contain gluten, I yanked from his life. In fact, I did not give him anything unless it said gluten free or had under 5 ingredients, just to be sure.

Poor kid. He was only 2 years old and all I fed him for days was banana for breakfast, apple and peanut butter for lunch, rice and broccoli for dinner with our token “protein” of the night. Obviously this was before we went plant-based.

Here’s what happened next.

The kid saw my nerves. He had a limited array of foods and since everything was “as is”, he lost his palate for good flavour. I had single handedly curated a picky eater.

Lucky for him, I made a career change, got into family health, wellness and nutrition and I have been able to restore his love for many flavors. Phew!

Just like the steps you take while backing away from the skunk, I was super careful when we later decided to become a plant-based family. I was not going to make the same mistakes again and ruin all the hard work I had done with two young children this time.

I’ll let you in on some of my most successful steps to take before changing your family’s diet that have worked for me and others.

Be the test subject! Start collecting recipes you think your family will like and make them for yourself. This will ensure that you start to get familiar with new ingredients and techniques before you introduce them to the family and realize you have botched up a meal that is not fully cooked or is just filled with too much turmeric!

Tried and true. Take old recipes and swap some of the unwanted ingredients for good substitutes. Two examples: chickpeas can replace chicken in the cacciatore and tofu can replace scrambled eggs. Do this slowly and remember what was a hit so you can do it again!

Know that you’re not alone. Get the support of a friend who has made the same switches as you. Find a blog or a book to help you along, or get a coach. Just don’t poll 100 people for 100 questions or you’ll have too many opinions to sort through. It does not need to take you 6 months to get the nutrition information, gather recipes and make a plan of action. Call on those who have done what you need to do so you don’t end up like me who fed her son apples and peanut butter for two weeks! Never a-g-a-i-n.

I guess it goes without saying that there is never a perfect time to start. That’s why I say: “the perfect time is the imperfect time”.

It is always the right time to make changes for your family to help them thrive, have more energy, concentrate better and make their immune system the best it can be. So plan a few strategic steps and run with it. Just avoid the skunks!

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