How to Help Your Spouse Eat Healthier
My husband I don't feed each other or share our meals. Our ability to stick to our own plates is heaven most of the time. I feel free to cook what I like and he does the same. Sometimes we cook for each other, but for the most part our dinner mantra is “whatever floats your boat.” Unfortunately, this individuality is not the norm. For the most part, women are the queens of the kitchen and determining what’s for dinner on a daily basis. When it comes to changing eating habits for the better, the same is true. Women may take the lead on preparing healthier fare. The problem is, if the men in their lives are happy with the current meal plan, switching it up could cause some undesirable results. While it would seem that helping hubby lose weight is your job, it’s a losing game without him having a say.
Whatever You Say Honey
A study published in Health Psychology conducted a focus group on middle-aged men who admitted that their food preferences came second to their wives influences on eating at home. A majority of the 83 men said their wives didn’t consult with them about making healthier meals, and they generally didn’t express their dislike for the changes made. This left the group pretending. Men reported eating healthy at home, only to make different choices when they were not under their wives’ watch. Lead Researcher, Derek M. Griffith, Ph.D, Assistant Professor for Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan had this to say of their findings, “I think at dinner a lot of men are eating healthier, but they compensate for the dissatisfaction of not eating what they want by making unhealthier choices outside the home.” The reason they didn’t speak up seems to be to keep the peace. Some expressed keeping their wife happy as a reason to keep quiet.
Don’t Hate, Negotiate
A separate study shows that a new couple may merge their food preferences initially. Over time though, a negotiation may need to take place to avoid food conflicts. Use eating out as a testing ground for changing food preferences. Ask what he likes about eating out or probe about what meals may be good to try at home. Don't speak negatively about what he orders or pick his plate apart. Instead, express what you like about certain meals and ask if he still likes specific at-home dinner staples. It may be hard to have the conversation for someone who may not want to step on your food preparation toes, but try and allow him to express himself without defending yourself. Saying, "I thought you liked that", or "why didn't you say something" may only make him crawl back into his "whatever you say honey" shell. Talk about how you can bring your preferences together for dinner or consider having him determine what's for dinner from time to time.
Celebrating the Individual
Whether a doctor orders healthier eating for you or your spouse, you are attempting to lose weight, or you want to refresh your diet, find a way to incorporate individual preferences. Unlike major family decisions, compromise is not necessary at every meal. Try making a side dish only your hubby likes along with one you prefer and make the same main entree. You might also consider making a single-serve appetizer that you enjoy, to create some variety for a dinner that's his choice. As you've learned from Calorie Count, there's more than one way to eat healthy. And every meal does not have to be your decision. Make choosing meals a collaborative effort and you'll get a lot closer to making a long-lasting change in both of your eating habits. Just as parenting involves a team effort, think of how both of you can get what you want. If done positively, the change will be a willing individual decision, rather than a forced twisting of the arm.
How have your healthy eating habits affected meal time?