How to Get Your Loved Ones on Board With Your Healthy Eating
Because no one needs to feel like an outcast for having a salad.
When I started my quest to lose weight by eating healthier, my fiancé was not at all #TeamSalad. He’s built like a linebacker, and doesn’t consider it a meal without a huge hunk of meat, pasta, and/or potatoes. Serving him a 4-ounce piece of grilled fish and a side of broccoli just wasn’t gonna cut it—but making two separate dinners every night wasn’t going to work for me.
Here’s the thing—I want us both to get a little healthier. We could both stand to lose a few pounds and my fiancé has type 1 diabetes, so I’d love for us to start eating in a way that benefits, not hurts, our health. I’d never be able to talk him into a diet, but I figured if I started making healthier meals for the both of us, it might nudge him into being at least *a little* healthier.
After several complaints over the healthier swaps I was adding to the rotation, and questions like “Can you just make me fettuccine alfredo?” (his favorite meal), or “Can we go out for ice cream?” it started to distract me from my goals.
He’d bring over cookies and the smell would drive me crazy—so I’d cave in and eat two—or he’d request high calorie meals, and because cooking is my love language, I’d make it for him (and eat an entire bowl myself).
Things were going downhill quickly—I wasn’t losing any weight (duh), I didn’t feel good about myself, and his blood sugar was still out of control.
After talking to friends who were also trying to be healthier, it seems like this is a common occurrence. Whenever one person (especially the cook) wants to change their lifestyle, it can cause tension with partners and families.
So I decided to nip this in the bud, and address the situation. Now, we’re making small changes together. My fiancé will never quit drinking Diet Coke and I'll never give up sprinkling on the cheese, but we're making small strides—like trying new veggies or going for a walk after dinner—and that’s good enough for me.
Here are some tips that helped us eat healthier together—and saved us from killing each other over salad.
Discuss your goals, and talk about the “why’s”.
My fiancé is usually my biggest cheerleader, so it surprised me when he had a hard time getting on board with my health goals.
After I explained why I wanted to change the way we ate—namely because I want us to look and feel our best for our wedding and I also want us both to be healthy whenever we decide to start a family—he changed his perspective. Viewing it through that lense helped him see that this really mattered to me, and he became much more supportive.
I started small.
If I tried to completely overhaul both of our diets overnight, I’d have a mutiny on my hands. So I’ve started small—maybe that means cutting out meat once a week, steaming instead of frying, or saying “no” to dessert.
And I compromise where it makes sense. For example, if I’m making a lean meat and veg sheet pan dinner, I’ll also zap a baked potato in the microwave for him.
We decide the week’s meals together.
It’s a little extra work, but I really do think this trick has made all the difference. On Sundays before I go grocery shopping, I pick out 8-10 healthy recipes that align with my nutrition goals, and he picks out the 4-5 options he’s into. For the rest of the week’s meals, we eat leftovers or go out for date night.
I make his favorite meals—but healthy.
Luckily I have a good source for making comforting classics (like fettuccine alfredo!) a little healthier—check out this version of the iconic pasta dish from our site.
I’ll make the shrimp and sauce for both of us, and bulk up the meal with some extra veggies. Then I serve his with noodles and mine with pre-spiralized zucchini noodles. It’s a win-win.
I found options he liked.
Growing up, my fiancé just didn’t eat a lot of veggies. Until we met, for instance, he’d never tried Brussels sprouts.
But it turns out, he actually loves them! Cruciferous veggies like Brussels, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli are great because they’re inexpensive and surprisingly filling. I especially love using cauliflower in homemade pizza crusts or as a rice substitute in burrito bowls, casseroles, or fried “rice” dishes.
I focus on my own goals.
Initially, I was frustrated when we’d go through a drive-through and my fiancé would order his usual chicken sandwich and fries while I despondently munched on a salad.
I’d think, “Why is he doing this to me?” But then I’d realize that I couldn’t push my goals on other people or expect them change just because I was trying to.
It can be hard to resist temptation and stick to your goals, but putting pressure on people to eat healthy never works—they have to do it on their own time. So I try to focus on my goals—and hope my fiancé will come around once he sees how great I look and feel.
We found an activity we can enjoy together.
Once or twice a week, we play racquetball at our local gym. My fiancé played competitively in college, and I’m absolutely terrible, but we enjoy ourselves and it helps us get moving.
Try looking up fun workouts you can do with your family, like ice skating, bowling, golf, tennis, walking, hiking, or even throwing a ball around the yard—and schedule some regular time to do it.