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Getting Your Spouse to Eat Healthier

nutrition tips May 04, 2018

Having someone to keep you accountable on your trek to reaching your health goals is important. Hopefully your spouse is the best accountabilibuddy since their proximity to you makes it easier for each of you to keep the other in check. Alas, not all spouses are ready to jump on the healthy lifestyle train. What are ways that we can get that slightly stubborn significant other to eat healthier?

My sister-in-law grew up in a “meat and potatoes” kind of household. Any vegetables that were eaten were of the starch variety (e.g. potatoes, corn) or they came from a can. Not too surprising, but as an adult, there were few vegetables that she would eat. My brother had to come up with a way to expand her horizons. He played around with the way he cooked them (broiling brussel sprouts vs. sauteing them). He tried different spices and flavor combinations. Basically, he would pick a veggie that he wanted to eat, then tried to make it appetizing to her. It worked!! She loves eating so many different veggies now, and they have been able to move away from a meat and potatoes kind of dinner. She still has aversions to some vegetables, but it’s good to focus on the positive growth she’s made. The key here is that it also took time. She wasn’t eating kale chips at the end of the week. But together, they were able to start eating along a similar, healthier path.

When one person is on a nutrition quest, it can be defeating when the other person isn’t as excited about making these changes. When you have kids who won’t eat your delicious, healthy food, that can make things even worse! Don’t give up that easily. Review my previous posts about your picky eater children for help with your little ones. As for your spouse…. my number one tip is to lead by example and to not make a big deal about it.

For instance, we do not:

  • Force them on a “diet” with you. Diets and dietary changes are difficult enough when we want to do them. If they aren’t invested, it won’t go well.
  • Tell them without asking that WE are doing a new diet/program starting on ___ date
  • Make them feel bad for not exercising, eating badly, snacking too much, etc.
  • Comment on their food choices with remarks like, “did you know how much sugar is in that?”
  • Don’t give unsolicited advice. As a mom, has anyone started giving you advice when you never asked for it? Remember that gut instinct to scream when they were done talking? Ya, that. Your spouse may feel the same.

However, we can:

  • Lead by example
  • Tell them what you are going to be doing and more importantly, WHY it’s important to you. By explaining, they might realize they want to make those changes too. Even better yet is that by thinking about the why, you will truly comprehend the reasons you’re doing it too; making you more committed.
  • Ask for support. They don’t have to do it with you, but support is a wonderful way to get them slowly involved.
    • Perhaps you will want to be clear on what type of support you are looking for. If you want a reminder to not have your nightly bowl of ice cream, or to put that candy bar down, ask them to say something politely. Maybe rehearse how or what they should say in these instances. You are working to be on the same team - no fights necessary!
  • Start making healthy changes and share how good you feel! You don’t need to talk about the pounds, just little things at the end of the day. Like, “I noticed I wasn’t tired at all today!” or “I have been sleeping so much better lately!”
  • Make healthy and yummy recipes. Ask them to take a bite, even if they aren’t going to eat the whole meal. If your children have the one bite rule, your significant other can too!
  • Ask for their input on meal selection. I do this all the time. When I am meal planning, I always ask my hubby what he would like for dinners this week. Does he want to grill? Does he feel like Mexican? If he has a say, he is more invested in eating it.
    • Now, you can experiment with healthier versions of classic meals. Put a healthier spin on the requested dinners.
    • Your kids can give input too. Again, by feeling like their opinion matters, they may be more likely to eat it.
  • Keep sharing, and keep living as healthy as YOU can.
  • 9 out of 10 times the spouse joins in. Whether it is week 1 or week 15, they will see (and hear) the results you are getting and they won’t want to be left in the dust!

I think one of the most important keys to success here is keeping your end goals in mind. This is about getting your spouse to eat healthier, so that is the goal. If my brother had forced my sister-in-law to eat a bowl of creamed spinach or replaced her snacks with celery and carrots right off the bat, it would never have worked. If your significant other is picky, hesitant, or both, you will need to take time to get them on the same page as you. Make it about you, not them. Leading by example can subconsciously get them to change their minds and begin joining you on your health quest!

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