Healthy Eating: Conversation Starters

Sometimes a family member or friend needs encouragement to make a healthy change. Try these tips to start a conversation about eating healthy.

Say why eating healthy is important.

You can say:

  • “Your health is important to me. I care about you and want you to live a healthy life.”
  • “A healthy diet can help you stay active as you get older, giving you more time to spend with your loved ones and do the activities you enjoy.”

Talk about small steps.

Try saying:

  • “Healthy eating isn’t all or nothing. You can eat healthy and still enjoy the foods you love. How do you feel about trying some small changes?”
  • “Can I help you think of some healthy shifts that would be doable for you? What are some foods or ingredients you would be willing to swap out for healthier options?”

Offer simple suggestions:

  • Be ready with some ideas, like drinking water instead of soda, eating whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, or using olive oil instead of butter.
  • Keep it manageable — encourage your friend or family member to pick 1 or 2 ideas to start.

Take the lead. Do it together.

Offer to make healthy changes with your loved one! You can say:

  • “There are simple things we can do, like having oatmeal or whole-grain cereal for breakfast instead of sweets.”
  • “Let’s go grocery shopping together for healthy choices.”
  • “Let’s try to cook and enjoy a healthy meal together at least twice a week.”
  • “Let’s try eating at least 2 vegetables with dinner.”
  • “Next time we go out to eat, let’s share a meal. Or we can each order our own, but only eat half  we can save the other half for lunch the next day.”

Offer to help.

Make sure your loved one knows you’re ready to support them:

  • Let your friend or family member know you're on their side. Ask, “How can I help you eat healthy?”
  • Acknowledge that changing habits is hard. Ask, “What's the hardest thing about eating healthy? What can I do to support you?”
  • Celebrate successes. Say, “I’m so proud of you for making this change and sticking to it.”

Content last updated December 2, 2021

Reviewer Information

This information on healthy eating was adapted from materials from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Reviewed by:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

For more information about healthy eating, check out: