I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints, lately, from wives who are trying to clean up their eating but are meeting resistance from their husbands. Changing your lifestyle is hard enough when it’s just you – here are some tips on making the transition easier When Your Spouse Won’t Eat Healthy.
When Your Spouse Won’t Eat Healthy…
1. Be firm, but don’t be disrespectful or critical.
Tell your spouse why eating healthy is important to you and the reasons you’re motivated to serve nourishing food, but be respectful of your spouse’s feelings. Acknowledge how they feel and repeat it back to them without judgement (IE You feel like it’s important for you to be able to relax by eating something sweet after work.) Don’t call them names, insult their character or be derogatory in any way. Even if you don’t like their eating behavior, don’t say anything unless you have something nice to say. Try leaving them a friendly note if face-to-face conversations just aren’t working.
2. Don’t nag.
You’ve told your spouse you want to eat healthy once. Maybe you’ve said it twice. Don’t tell your spouse again. That’s called nagging and it won’t further your argument. Readiness to change is very individual – sometimes the more you push someone to change the less likely they are to do so. If your spouse chooses not to adopt your eating strategy then it’s time to start working around them instead of with them. Perhaps prepare a separate meal for yourself, for now, and focus on being a positive role model..
3. Don’t talk AT your spouse – talk WITH them and work together.
Make a list of vegetables, grains and meats together and decide what you can both agree on. Similarly, tell your spouse that you want him or her to eat better and ASK them how to make that happen. Make a list of possible solutions and cross off items that aren’t mutually acceptable until you have a list you can work with.
4. Get help!
We all think more highly of our diets than we should. Secure an impartial third party to evaluate your diet and your partner’s diet. Perhaps hearing it from someone else will help – plus, it takes the pressure off of you.
5. Swap favors.
Is your spouse really stubborn? Bribery can be a funny way to get them to explore new food options.
“Honey, if you eat all your vegetables tonight I will vacuum your car for you tomorrow.”
6. Start small.
Is your spouse a french-fry nut? Don’t throw them into quinoa right away. Slowly modify their favorite foods until they’re eating something totally different. First, try white potatoes roasted with oil, herbs and a spare amount of salt. Eventually begin integrating other starches that are more “vegetable-y.” For example, you might want to introduce sweet potatoes, then roasted butternut squash fries, then roasted carrot fries.
7. Serve a large bowl of salad or a big vegetable side dish at every meal.
That way you and your children can have a healthy meal rich with vegetables, even if your spouse chooses not to.
8. Don’t make a big deal about new foods.
Are you serving a meatless dish like black bean chili? Don’t make a big deal about the fact that it’s meatless. Cutting down on carbs or butter? Don’t announce that something’s missing! In fact, don’t say anything except “We’re having Chili for dinner tonight.” Some spouses won’t even notice that you’re changing up meal time, so don’t ruin the magic by giving the trick away yourself!
9. Get good at cooking!
Nobody wants to eat food that tastes bad, whether it’s healthy or not. Make an effort to find the best, healthiest recipes that taste good to your family by looking at cookbooks, blogs, pinterest and magazines like Eating Well and Cooking Light. It takes a lot of practice and experimentation before you begin to hit your stride as a “healthy cook.” Remember, practice makes perfect! Note that some people’s tastes are essentially “ruined” from eating so much processed food. In my experience, it takes time for a person to enjoy the taste of whole food when they’re used to processed or unhealthy food.
10. Find support elsewhere.
It would be so much easier if your spouse could be your pillar of support as you embark on a new lifestyle. However, if your spouse just isn’t that person then you need to create a social support system outside of that – this might mean finding a group of friends who are focused on healthy living, too, or hiring a nutrition coach who will be your cheerleader on your journey. Having a support system can make the difference between attaining your goals or reverting to your old ways.
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