It can feel frustrating, un-motivating and derailing to your health and fitness goals if your boyfriend/husband/partner decides not to jump on the healthy eating train with you.
It might look like this. You express your new journey, stock up on healthy options at the grocery store, prepare a colorful looking dinner and have a few days of solid “on plan” eating. Inevitably he then comes home with a pizza and breadsticks or you both go out to dinner and you order a salad and water and he decides on a big bacon burger, fries and beer.
Here’s the thing.
No one wants to be forced to changed and even if he may have some interest in being healthier he for sure doesn’t want to be scolded or frowned upon for his food choices. But there has gotta be a happy medium, right?
It is a dilema that many couples have and today I want to share some insights and strategies to help deal with someone who just doesn’t want to get on board with healthy eating (or get on board as much as you).
I can share from personal experience. My man and I are both very much into health and fitness but eat very differently and view healthy eating in different ways. Let me tell you, this can be just as challenging.
He eats chicken fingers, lots of pasta, pizza and cinnamon toast crunch or apple jacks depending on the week. If we get Mexican food he almost always gets a burrito and at most restaurants gets some sort of bacon burger with fries.
I on the other hand really feel best when I eat my plain brown rice, crockpot chicken and veggies and fruit every day. I like my dark chocolate (that he took a bite of one weekend why I was away and spit out immediately) and limit my greasy food intake. I think everything he eats tastes delicious but it usually stop at a bite or two (he would argue 3 or 4).
We eat very differently but ultimately he knows vegetables are crucial to good health and I have loosened up around food because, well, bread, wine, and pizza are a part of life. I would rather learn how to moderate my intake around them ( because I feel best when I do) than try to avoid them forever.
So how do we manage this when our versions of healthy are different? Here are 4 strategies I have used that have helped us comprise and blend our two eating worlds together so it doesn’t feel quite so challenging.
Spice up the veggies.
Coat veggies with all the good stuff when you cook them. When I first started making vegetables for Shawn I used way more butter, oil, and seasonings than I cared for.
My steamed broccoli just wasn’t making the cut and I didn’t want him and my vegetables to get off on the wrong foot. Knowing a little extra sodium and fat wouldn’t make or break my diet I would eat them. Gradually (whether he knows this or not) I started lessening the butter and seasonings and now have found a happy medium that we both enjoy.
It only took a couple months but not only does he eat vegetables without giving me a hard time, he cooks them himself.
He knew he could stand to eat a few more vegetables and I realized a little fat and sodium isn’t going to make or break my diet.
Don’t overhaul his diet.
The biggest recipe for failing is trying to change everything all at once. This is a formula I use with all of my clients trying to implement healthy habits, from eating to working out. Big drastic change usually doesn’t work. It is small change implemented over time.
We don’t always eat the same and on nights like that this is how it goes. Shawn eats his chicken fingers with a side of vegetable. I eat mine with a turkey burger.
He cooks up his pizza and I make a side salad he actually likes for both of us but add chicken to mine. He makes prosciutto wrapped asparagus and eats it as a side of pasta. And sometimes I just eat that pasta.
He is not changing everything but he is changing something and I am pretty sure he feels a little healthier and has most definitely been able to sustain this way of eating for years now. Why? Because he actually likes the way he is eating.
Is this the most clean diet ever? No but it works for him and he stays healthy and fit. Do I really need to try to get him to change just to match my eating so I feel better about everything? No.
Make two varieties of one dinner.
No one wants to make two different dinners, I get it, but often it is helpful to make a dinner and alter the ingredients just slightly.
For example, we make turkey burgers and sweet potatoes fries (lots of seasoning) and he uses a bun and I skip it.
He bbq’s carne asada and make a burrito with beans, rice, and cheese. I opt for a salad with similar ingredients but also some diced tomato and avocado.
We make spaghetti and meat sauce and keep them separate so I can choose less pasta and more meat if I wish with a side of a vegetable we both like.
I’ll make a chicken dish and we will have cheesy vegetables on the side.
Practice Portion Control.
Could you use this challenge as a time to practice portion control?
Avoiding food completely can be a great start in the beginning but isn’t a realistic solution for the long haul. Having your man eat different than you is a great lesson in exposing yourself to the food you fear and practicing portion control anyways.
For me personally it has actually helped balance my sometimes too strict approach to food. So often we think eating healthier means that we have to comply to a diet at all times, eliminate condiments, and our favorite adult beverages.
Sure you may have to adjust if you are seeking certain changes but giving up certain foods for good or eating in a way you cannot maintain is a sure sign that it is not sustainable. If a diet is unsustainable the results will be as well. Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. That leads me to my last point.
It’s not all about him. Do you.
Be honest and have a chat but ultimately do you. You have made a decision to eat healthier for a reason and you can convey that to him openly and honestly.
Let him know what you may struggle with or what things he does that might make it difficult for you (offering you snacks, suggesting fast food for dinner). Let him know how this change would impact your life positivity and let him know how much his support would mean to you.
The reality is no matter how much you want him to join you, you can’t force him and if you do it could easily turn up in resentment in the relationship. If he decides not to get on board you have two options. You can give up on your goals and health or you can move forward anyway.
Ultimately this a lesson you can learn form each other. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to go extreme either way and you can find a safe, healthy and sane middle ground.