Eating healthily can be a big enough challenge as it is, let alone factoring in the influence of a partner! If you are trying to eat better for your overall health, to lose weight or because you need to follow a certain diet such as vegetarian, gluten free etc, managing healthy eating in a relationship when you have a partner whose idea of 5 a day includes the peas on the side of their fish and chips, is tough.
Sometimes their well intentioned surprise take away or chocolate can be a major sabotage of your healthy ways! When I got on the healthy wagon a few years ago, it was not without some argument from my partner. He was very supportive of my weight loss goals, and even accepted some changes to how he was eating to make things easier for me. However he didn’t like to see my depriving myself, and often encouraged me to have that slice of cake, because to him it was something that was making me happy.
The first helpful thing is to talk to them about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Talking things through, reassuring them and working out compromises when it comes to things like eating out can all be useful. Telling them what they can do to support you, and explaining why encouraging you to eat less healthy foods is not actually helpful can prevent the dreaded ‘diet sabotage’. Make suggestions of things they can get instead of less healthy foods, for example, instead of a Greggs cream cake, a nice fresh fruit salad from M&S.
When it comes to cooking meals for both of you, it can get really challenging! Cooking two separate meals can be ok sometimes but after a while it just takes too much effort. Again, see what compromise you can come to with eating a healthier meal together a few evenings a week. Find out what healthy foods you both like and base meals around them.
If you are a vegetarian or are following a lower carb diet, think about how you can change different elements of the meal. I tend to feel better when I don’t eat a lot of carbs on an evening so I will make a stir fry with chicken and vegetables and just have that, but then add some wholemeal noodles or rice to my husbands plate. You can also change the form of protein in the meal, so they could have chicken and you could have tofu.
Having a couple of easy ‘go to’ meals that are pretty healthy and that you both enjoy is a good idea to avoid ordering a take away for the sake of it. For us it was stir fries, home made curries and omelettes that saved the day.
Don’t forget about portion sizes, that was a real issue for me when I first started seeing my partner! He would have super sized portions of chips and I would just match him. Remembering that everyone needs different amounts of food, and that you might not need the same amount as your rugby playing boyfriend!
It might not be the case that your partner eats that unhealthily, but if they do, it could be that their diet, and in turn health, improves as a result of your changes. Even small changes like making a few healthy swaps can help. If all less fails you can use some stealth tactics. If you are in control of the grocery shopping just don’t buy the crap! Usually when it’s not in the cupboards it won’t get eaten, just fill them with some healthier alternatives instead.
Has trying to eat healthier been helped or hindered by your partner?
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