I love reading all your posts on eating healthy (especially the healthy snacking post!!) but I need some help with how to get my sugar loving, everything unhealthy eating husband to join! If it says "Spelt", "whole – grain," or anything healthy sounding on it, he won’t touch it! What can I do????
Always a loyal fan 😀
Thank you so much for your question and I am so happy you enjoy reading my blog. As you know already, you pose a tough question! I guess you wanted to challenge me
A Health Issue Vs. a Marital Issue:
For starters, before I get into ANY sort of answer, I’d like to point out for all our readers: You and your hubby are both pretty thin and healthy to begin with. If this was a situation where your husband couldn’t walk up a flight of steps without nearly passing out, or couldn’t walk down the block without the need to rest – then I would say it’s not an issue of health anymore but a “Shalom Bayis” (marital) issue. When one spouse is doing something detrimental to their health such as texting while driving, smoking, drinking too much etc. then I would handle this situation entirely different. This would all depend on how things work in your marriage.
For me, it wouldn’t be “honey, maybe you should start eating baby carrots instead of 3 cheeseburgers…” The conversation would look more like this – “Honey, if you don’t lose a crap-load of weight and get your health under control, I’m kicking you to the curb!” (Obviously exaggerating, but you get the point) But, like I said – I know your hubby and it’s not a matter of life and death – but more of incorporating more healthy habits.
Having said that – let’s begin our discussion.
You Can Lead a Horse….
We all need to remember the old adage “you can lead a horse to the river but you can’t make him drink” This is with ANYTHING you want someone else to do. At the end of the day, you can’t fully control what your husband/significant other/friend/life partner does. Even if you have the healthiest food in your house – you never really know what he’s eating when he steps out of the door and goes to work everyday.
So what to do?
Here are some ideas that MIGHT help. (I say might because let’s face it – it might not )
1) Planting evil messages in his brain:
Oooh mind control! For my hubby this actually worked. (don’t tell him I told you this )
My husband LOVES playing sports. Whenever he would come home from a game, and tell me he didn’t play well, I would ever so casually ask him what he had been eating earlier that day. When he DID play well, I pointed out to him how his food choices were helping him with more energy, and stamina on the court of field. After a while the message started to sink in and he came to realize that yes, when I eat better, I’m able to enjoy my hobbies (and sports) more.
Every person is different and you need to see what works for them. I mentioned my “planting evil messages” to my friend and she told me that it would NEVER work on the men in her family. They would just laugh. But after thinking about it, she DID realize that the boys in her family (her brothers) LOVE Competition and they are constantly comparing who’s thinner, stronger, or more ripped. So in her situation – the message we want them to learn is that your food choices make a HUGE difference in giving you the edge on strength training, or how far you can go on a Treadmill.
Maybe he hates the idea of gaining weight. Feel free to mention to him “dude, is your stomach a little bigger? Maybe its just the lighting in here” Anytime he mentions his weight is an EXCELLENT time to suggest incorporating more vegetables and less Snickers bars J Also, let’s remember that while he may be thin now, metabolism DOES slow down with age. (we all know our daddy’s with their beer bellies) so if weight is something that is important to him, he should understand that his 36 inch waist isnt going to last if he will continue to nosh. (is 36 a thin number for men? I have no idea…)
The point is we want our spouses to realize (whether we point it out subtly or flat out) that eating healthy actually has benefits!!! When we eat better we have more stamina, we can think clearer and we feel better. Let’s not forget to mention SEX is better as well. (maybe THAT will encourage him to ditch the fast food and go for a salad instead)
2) Let him experience it himself.
Once you’ve pointed out these benefits, allow your hubby to come to these realizations on his own. When I did my first detox last year, my husband wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea, but he joined to help and support me. I don’t think he ever expected to see amazing results himself. His migraines disappeared, he had better energy and in his words “I never felt this healthy before in my life.” But I never pushed it. Occasionally I would ask him how he felt, but after the detox was over he was surprised how incredible he actually felt.
However, I do want to point out that this method didn’t always work for me. There is a “Total Nutrition” Green drink that I take every day, and for months I’ve been trying to get my hubby on board with drinking it. I’d often ask, “do you feel good when you drink it?” or “Do you feel like you have better energy to work / play” or about weight loss, “does the drink make you feel fuller?” (these are all effects that I have gotten from this drink) But he hasn’t. So I don’t push the subject – it’s not his thing and that’s ok. I gotta pick my battles J and this leads to my next idea:
3) Snack Times: Swapping out evil for less evil – then swapping out less evil for not bad …
Not all nosh is created equal. If corn chips and mayo dip are evil (for example) – then maybe you can switch them out for whole grain pretzels with mustard. And then maybe we can swap those out for a multi grain chip with salsa. And then go for chummus and baby carrots (if you can ease in that far.) What I’m saying is that you don’t have to jump into spelt quinoa crackers right away (actually I don’t recommend it at all). There are some great chips out there that aren’t as bad as the candy and cookies that he would be snacking on during Football games. And if he freaks out when you bring out the Chummus and Baby Carrots – tell him, he can have the chips instead that the carrots are for the women J (the point is to take small BABY STEPS so you don’t scare him away.
4) Incorporating healthier foods during meal times
Just like snack times – the same applies for meals. I don’t recommend diving into the alfalfa sprouts right away … but it’s not hard at all to serve a HUGE salad before your entrée, and make lighter healthier meals. Everyone agrees that if you eat a huge salad, or a vegetable soup, you’ll end up eating less red meat for your meal. It takes some planning. This way, if your hubby is craving a greasy burger from a restaurant, at least you know that he’s been eating healthier dinners/ snacks at home most of the time.
5) Saving treats and other noshy items for Shabbos / special occasions
I like this idea. This way if he DOES catch on that you’re trying to “healthy” him up – you can always tell him “the nosh is saved for Shabbos” so it’s not like you’re getting rid of it ENTIRELY and he’ll feel deprived. We’re just saving it for a special occasion.
6) Make it a “we” situation – not “You.”
This is a concept often spoken about when it comes to couples and their issues. To use the word “I or WE” and not “YOU” to make sure your spouse knows you’re on the same team. (Dolphins right?) With food, the same principle applies. I, as in the wife, want to try eating healthier – let’s do it together. Let’s start walking together … or eating supper at the table instead of in front of the TV. Make it a journey you embark on TOGETHER.
One time I was at a party and someone commented that I was so good about not eating any of the cakes being served. She wanted to know how I was so disciplined all the time. I explained that I’m not always and occasionally I pig out and then pay the heavy price. My sister in law who was with me at the time, told this woman that my husband and I always keep each other in check not to overeat, or eat bad food. So yes, in public it might seem weird that my hubby will tell me “no you can’t eat that” (looks abusive?) but I do the same thing to him, and it’s true. When you have a partner in crime, it really pays off.
7) Blaming the kids. –
I know you have a little one, and this trick might work in your house. “We want the kids to learn healthy habits so we should start eating healthier in the house.” Getting rid of the all the extra junk food and stocking up on foods you would want your toddler to see you eating (and end up eating herself). Another way to phrase this would be: “We want to be around for our kids for a long time… we want to be able to run around with them… play ball with them etc.”
8) Exercising –
My doctor once told me that one of his patients is a marathon runner and therefore he can get away with eating a LOT more crap because he just burns it all off with all the running. Does he recommend this method for us normal people? No WAY – BUT exercising can at least off- set the food so it’s out of your system.
9) A Key thing to remember: Sugar CRAVES sugar.
You can deny this all you want but it’s a fact. When we’re on a cycle of eating sugar (or white starchy foods) – they cause our body to continue to crave it. (This is why we get that feeling of “I can’t stop eating!”) When our bodies are eating properly, it’s EASY to eat until we’re satisfied and walk away from the table. The hard part is those first few days abstaining from ALL sugar to get rid of the initial cravings.
It’s something to think about.
Some People Need a Wake Up Call
At the end of the day, there are people who are just not interested in healthy eating / living. These are people that need a “wake up call.” You can warn your friend every day about texting while driving, but until they crash (or swerve dangerously) suddenly the message takes effect. People need to be open and ready for the light bulb to turn on no matter how many hints or tricks we try.
I am very excited to know if any of my ideas actually work. Please keep me posted on your progress!
As always, thanks for reading and I look forward to your next question!
5 Pillars of Health