Does your spouse support your healthy eating? If so, that’s wonderful! If not, then this post will be a big encouragement to your heart. And if you are on the flip side, and you don’t support your spouse’s healthy eating, this post will be an encouragement to love them and support them on their healthy eating journey.
What to Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Support Your Healthy Eating
Earlier that day, I had no idea what quinoa (“kwuh-NO-uh”?) was. But now, I was elbow deep in a new “healthy” recipe I was convinced my husband would adore.
No pans on the table. Tonight was special, and I was willing to wash the extra dish to display my creation in all its beauty.
He served himself the quinoa, chicken, and roasted veggies. He took a bite and proceeded to rearrange his plate’s contents, methodically moving the colorful mounds from side to side. I assume he was trying to make it look like he actually ate something.
Dinner ended. He was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…and I was irritated. Not so much at him, but that I’d tried to make something to awaken his inner healthy eater (and failed) again.
What do you do when you and your spouse are on opposite ends of the healthy eating spectrum?
Or, what do you do when you’re both in desperate need of a healthy lifestyle change, but you’re the only one who wants to jump off the gravy train?
In this post, we’re going to discuss how to honor your difference of opinions…while also following the Lord’s cues to take better care of yourself and your family.
When Healthy Eating Got a Bad Rap
I was visiting a dear friend for a few days when we decided to make dinner at home. I knew she’d been longing to make better eating choices and I was excited to help “open her eyes” to new options.
We were browsing the produce aisle when she sheepishly requested that we avoid making a salad that looked like “weeds.”
She’d fallen prey to the idea that healthy foods are the equivalent of cardboard and twigs gathered for kindling.
My guess is that she attempted to make a few more nourishing meals herself, only to end up tossing them in the trash.
I’ve been there. And, let’s be honest, a lot of “healthy” foods are pretty horrid.
But, that’s like saying that all fair food is UN–healthy. I did get a pickle there one time.
Healthy eating has gotten a bad rap for so many years, and your spouse is likely fearful you’ll serve them weeds too.
The Original Health Food
But, we both know that the truth is– nourishing God-made foods are fabulous. A Swedish Fish can’t hold a candle to a fresh peach in the middle of summer.
In fact, real foods are pretty amazing. Our God is so ingenious that simple, whole foods contain everything our bodies need to thrive.
As you introduce these foods to your family, expect some resistance, but as they adapt to new flavors, their preference will change for food that nourishes.
Until then, what’s a salad-loving brother or sister to do?
4 Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating Changes
1. Embrace Personal Responsibility.
One of the best (and most painful) lessons I’ve learned in my life is personal responsibility. I know this perspective may feel a little deep for the dinner table, but it will actually free you in so many ways.
While it seems simplistic and pretty obvious– you can’t make your spouse eat healthy food. You can’t make them like it, prefer it, or even “taste one bite, pretty please.”
As they say– “you do you.” Lead by example and guard your heart. Remembering that it’s not what enters us that makes us clean or unclean, but what comes out of our hearts. (Matthew 15:18)
2. Keep the Lines of Communication Open.
Let’s not assume anything. When we do, it only…
Leads to confusion.
What is it that’s motivating your healthy choices? Chances are you have a deep longing to feel better for you and your loved ones. To be vibrant and energetic so that you can serve God and others.
Left unsaid, your spouse may assume your only “why” is to torture them with Unidentifiable Food Objects. But when they get the gusto behind your gumption, they’ll be more understanding and more likely to be flexible.
However, as we talked about in point #1, your flexibility is the only thing you can control…
3. Be Flexible.
Please don’t sign up for a drastic diet that requires you to eat from Barbie-sized Tupperware or calls for you to ban an entire food group (unless your doctor says so).
Coming into this lifestyle change with unrealistic expectations will only set you up for disappointment and cause you to get stuck in the dreaded all-or-nothing mindset.
A meal of frozen veggie pizza with a side salad is always a better choice than pizza egg rolls and French fries.
Better is better and progress is progress.
Thank your family for the changes they are willing to make, knowing that encouragement breeds change far more than an irritated eye roll does.
4. It’s Time to Pray.
If only we could change people’s minds. We’d have a healthy-eating family of…robots.
God has wired each of us differently. And He has us on our own unique journey of refinement. How you or I become more Christ-like may seem like the polar opposite from another. It’s ALL part of His plan… and no matter how hard we try to make things happen, it prevails. (Proverbs 16:9)
SO, we pray. Not for God to make our spouse an organic farmer, but for His will to be done, in our hearts and the hearts of others.
3 Tips for Taking Control of Your Own Health Journey
So now that you’re working on a way to approach your spouse’s hesitancy to eat healthfully, let’s chat about some practical tips to help you make progress without the perils of seeking perfection.
1. Keep it Simple and Sustainable.
Well, Drastic Diets are never the answer.
First of all, they are not family-friendly. Having to make 2 (or 3) different dishes at dinnertime is not realistic, and this will only create unnecessary stress for you and your spouse.
Secondly, 95% of the time…diets don’t deliver the results we’re longing for.
Why? Because diets expect us to change everything, overnight– and we humans aren’t wired that way.
Consider what small changes you can make given the reality of your available time, energy, and resources.
Imagine a continuum where your current state of health is on the left and your ideal self is on the right. Now, let’s say that there are 20 steps along the way (there could be 10 or 50).
What’s the very first step? Do that. And, do it well.
Let it be The Thing you focus on changing until it’s easy-peasy. Once that step becomes not just something you do, but who you are, you won’t have to yo-yo away from it.
This is how lifelong changes are made!
2. Focus on Hunger and Fullness.
Let’s say that your spouse is nowhere near trading biscuits for broccoli, and you’re tired of playing menu-planning Sudoku. My friend, it’s ok to take a break from the game and focus on your body’s fuel gauge.
Introducing HUNGER and FULLNESS.
You may not have met them for quite some time, but they’ll soon be your closest friends. You see, hunger and fullness are great encouragers. In fact, their language is one that’ll help you reach your goals on the shortest route possible.
Why? Well, hunger and fullness are not bound by what’s on your plate. And there’s a weight-loss-sized portion to every food.
Pasta, pizza, popcorn, and hushpuppies all can be eaten within the context of this fabulous duo.
Of course, it’s still best to eat more real food, and doing so will make those start and stop signs more clear, but a season of simply tuning into your body’s needs is a nice break.
3. Keep a Short Record of “Wrongs.”
I know it’s hard to accept that we’re not perfect. But, any pursuit of perfection gets our eyes off of the only One who is.
Do your best in making new, healthy habits, but please don’t let your humanness hinder your progress….
You forget to remember what you’re trying to achieve.
You grab a piece of candy on autopilot.
You wake up from a Facebook scrolling trance only to find that the entire bag o’ goodness is gone.
It happens and it’s ok.
Yes, we want to do better, and yes, sometimes you’ll need to talk to the Lord about it. But, the absolute best thing you can do is to keep a short record of wrongs. It’s what LOVE requires of us. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
Get up, brush the crumbs from your cheeks, and make the next best choice.
So, what’s next?
Today, we learned how healthy eating is a very personal conviction. No matter how convinced you are that this way is a “Biblical eating plan,” you can only change your habits and not the minds and hearts of others.
And by focusing on the state of our own self, we’ll find that He will create in us a clean heart (which is far better than clean eating). (Psalm 51:10)
Prayerfully seek how you can honor your own convictions while also putting others first. If it seems impossible, that’s God’s specialty. Trust that He will answer your heartfelt, heart-first requests!
Then, pick from the list of “3 Tips for Taking Control of Your Own Health Journey” above and start there!
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies, so that they’re better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.