Trying to eat healthy has many challenges, but when you add in a junk food-eating spouse, it is ten times harder to stick to it. Eating a salad while you watch your boyfriend down a cheesy slice of pizza can be very frustrating. If you are in a situation like this, it’s time to look at how the situation can be changed to make it easier for you to focus on your goals. It is possible to eat healthy when your spouse doesn’t.
Chances are, you spend more time with your significant other than anyone else, and you probably share a lot of meals. So if one of you is trying to eat healthy, but the other one isn’t, there may be some hard feelings. You don’t want something like food to come between you, make you argue, or worse, break you apart. Both of you will have to learn how to work together to respect each other’s lifestyles. You can try one or more of these options to make things easier.
The best option is to try to get your spouse on board with your healthy eating plan too. Sit down and explain to him why a change in eating habits might be good for him as well. The reason could be weight loss, more energy, lower cholesterol, or just better overall health. Have a meal plan ready to show him so he knows exactly what the new eating pattern will be. (My healthy 4-Week Meal Plan is a great place to start!) Give him specific examples of foods that he will be eating, and try to include foods he likes. Also be sure to let him know that adopting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean treats and splurges are off the table. They are just going to happen a lot less frequently. You could even give him an incentive or reward to work for, like after a week you will buy him a new shirt, or after a month you will buy him a round of golf. Make it fun by searching for new healthy recipes to try and preparing them together.
Show him/her healthy
Maybe he just thinks that all healthy food tastes horrible. We know that’s not true at all! Show him that he can still eat many of his favorites, just in a healthier way. It might be helpful for him to read my post on how to eat healthy. It might take some getting used to, but it’s worth a shot. If he loves pizza, have a pizza night where you make your own at home with whole wheat crust and lots of veggie toppings. Chinese food his favorite? Make your own stir fry with lean protein, lots of veggies and brown rice. (Try my Beef Stir Fry!) He may get used to the healthified food, and then of course he can have the real thing on occasion, if he still wants it. Plus you’ll be saving money by cooking more and eating out less. He should like that perk too.
Set some ground rules
If your spouse is not interested in eating healthier, then it’s time to set up some rules for meal times. Let him know that you respect his decision to eat the way he wants, but he also needs to respect your healthy eating style too. Tell him that it is sometimes difficult to eat healthy when he is eating splurge type foods in front of you all the time. Ask him to limit those splurge foods or eat in another area where you don’t have to see it. If he wants to keep junk food in the house, maybe he can have his own cabinet in the kitchen for it where you won’t have to see it. If he cares about you, he should be willing to do these things.
Ask for support
Even if it’s not his goal to eat better, tell him why it’s so important to you. Try to throw in some ways that this way of eating will benefit him, like you’ll be happier, have more energy, and will be less irritable. Let him know that there are some ways he could help, like leaving you little notes with motivating quotes or texting you to tell you how proud he is of you. Maybe he could download some new healthy recipes you can cook that he would be willing to try too. For birthday gifts, suggest things like a subscription to a healthy magazine or gift cards to healthy food stores.
Eat separate meals
I would never suggest cooking two completely different meals, but you can make similar things and eat them in slightly different ways. Husband wants steak and baked potato? Serve your steak over a huge green salad. He’s craving tacos? Make yours a taco salad. You can do this with so many dishes, and that way everyone is happy. This can work with takeout too. If he really wants takeout pizza one night, let him have it. Order your takeout from a healthier place. This is all about making everyone happy.
It’s all about compromise. You are going to have to work together with your significant other to find a system that works for both of you. Try out one of these strategies and see how it goes. Give it a couple of weeks. If it doesn’t seem to be working, try another one. Keep working at it and don’t give up on your health goals.