I received this note a week ago from a wife looking for tips to help hook her husband on a healthier lifestyle. Since I am historically the epitome of Unhealthy Man (picture flapping cape and speedos), I’m more than qualified to share some ideas.
I truly believe God is moving me to become more healthy….beyond the obvious lose weight, more veggies, etc… The problem is my husband (who is also very unhealthy) is extremely resistant to change when it comes to what we eat. I mentioned organic food, and he said, “as long as it still has flavor.” Unfortunately he’s the better cook, and likes it a whole lot more.
So my question is this..well several questions actually: 1) As a man who has resisted the food change, how did you finally come around? Actually, the better question is, what can I do as a wife to a resistant man to ease the transformation? 2) Are there simple recipes, food choices, etc that I can start with?
I bet many of you identify with her questions. We all start somewhere. So let’s get into some answers.
1. Start Small
If he’s anything like me, you won’t get anywhere with him by trying to transform your lifestyle up front. It took me two years (maybe more) to come around to the lifestyle my wife promoted. And we did it the hard way. She’d make entire meals. I’d eat part or all of her meal and then go out and eat a second meal at some fast food joint.
The truth is, Heather and I exist on totally different levels of the spectrum. She’s a nursing mommy. I’m a… guy. Pregnancy cravings / discomfort withstanding, she’ll eat the same thing over and over again if it has the nutrients she needs. She and her mom are what I call “practical eaters.” Sure, they enjoy fine dining. But given the freedom, they’d go ultra cost effective organic. Not me. I want variety. If I’m gonna give up Taco Bueno, Taco Bell, Wendys, and Steak N’ Shake, I’m not eating the same thing over and over again just because it’s non-toxic. Life is too short to eat uninteresting food.
I actually started making my own positive lifestyle choices by going small and switching one thing. For example, I switched from Dr. Pepper to Starbucks lattes, which eventually led to plain coffee, which led to black tea, which has now become organic Japanese green tea. However, I probably would never have made that first move, though, if I weren’t VERY clear on my wife’s desires. I made changes at MY pace after I knew how much it meant to her.
2. Go Gourmet
Whole Foods opened up a “whole” new world to me. Regular grocery stores looked pale, stagnant, boring, and downright unhealthy after we’d shopped at Whole Foods Market for a month. There’s something about sampling cave aged parmesan and experimenting with gourmet jalapeno & fruit jellies. Or even the salmon spread made in-store. Over and over again we found delectable treats to bring home which brightened the week and slowly affected my internal feelings toward natural and “organic” foods.
I’d never eaten many gourmet foods, and I was suddenly able to hunt through the store for treats. And it was even more pleasurable because I knew the treats were actually healthier than most of what I ate throughout the week.
3. Focus on Pleasure
And it all begins here. Never begin making changes by taking away enjoyable foods or by introducing bad tasting but super healthy foods. These are surefire ways to reinforce negative associations he already has in his mind. I found double pleasure in our gourmet experiments because my wife had already done some research and knew why what we were eating was good for our bodies. I slowly began to see healthy eating not as forcing myself to eat veggies but these amazing opportunities to treat my body with rare and powerful nutrients that help me focus, balance my emotions, retain energy, and increase my body’s ability to ward off the laundry list of expected American aging diseases.
For example, I experimented for several months until I mastered spaghetti. We ate spelt noodles and bought organic tomato sauce, but I added various combinations of herbs from our potted garden and melted various cheeses until I found the right combination for me. And then I could eat an extra portion knowing that I wasn’t downing so much processed white flour that my system would go into shock.
I’d be more than happy to answer any specific quandaries you might have. That’s what the comment box below is for.