I’ve been wanting to talk about this topic for ages, but something always distracted / prevented me from posting. It was possibly because I was struggling (and still struggle) with this whole concept of “clean couples eating”. We have such different tastes and thoughts on food, and I only have to say “quinoa” to get an arched eyebrow from my husband! Another reason I’ve avoided it is my feeling that the blogging/online health community is pretty much obsessed with 20-30 something girlies who eat kale from heart shaped plates alone, and there is no mention of a partner in sight ! in fact I’ve found i think only a handful of posts in all my years of reading blogs that address the dilemma of eating healthy in a relationship.
And of course, can I just add i don’t just mean significant others – it was just as hard for me living during university (with 5 girls ! ALL fitness freaks, may I add!) not to mention trying to branch out eating “clean” when I lived at home with my parents.
So how do we hold true to our “diets” (I use that term VERY loosely) when it feels like our immediate circle doesn’t share the same ethos? How can you eat healthy as a couple when his idea of good food is a greasy loaded cheeseburger and yours is raw juices?
I’ve always have a good set of curves, but its fair to say when I got myself into a happy loving relationship – it was like a internal switch went off in the back of my mind that i can now “relax” (not like I was uptight before, mind you!). I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted with my man. Whether it was fancy dinners out, or takeaways on the sofa – our love for each other was echoed in our mutual love for food! Who was I wanting to impress? he loved me, put a ring on it, and now I could just chill!. Like many newly weds, we gained weight in our first year of marriage (me more than him) and unfortunately what they say is true – its much easier to put it on then take it off!!
I’m happy to share that not only have I lost most of my “married” weight, but I’m well on my way to be lighter than I was when we first met 6 years ago (gush!) AND not just that, we are eating cleaner and healthier together as a couple which, trust me, is my BIGGEST achievement! Here are my thoughts on how to get healthy as a couple, and also tips on getting your partner/housemate/’rents eating a bit healthier too in the process!
1. Step away from fear and move into fearlessness
When we first got together we halved all our meals equally – pizza, big sharing curries, you name it, we ate it! I ate man sized portions, and then a bit more. There was a part of me very afraid of stepping out and being assertive. I didn’t want to be that girl asking for “dressing on the side” eating rabbit food. I didn’t want to be different, and I didn’t want to offend him, or my mother, or anyone for that matter. However, that fear became crippling and led me on a slippery slope to obesity. Not wanting to upset people was the story of my life, and it showed in my XXL clothes. I realised one day that I’m not a man (ha, DUH) and I don’t need to eat man sized portions. I realised, slowly, that my mum didn’t love me any less if I said no to her cake. I thought to myself whats the worst that could happen? if he dumped me for choosing salad over pasta than it obviously isn’t meant to be!! It took some time for everyone to adjust, and even more time for me to have the courage to stand out alone and be bold, but being fearless has not only made them respect and love me more, but I’ve lost valuable pounds in the process!
2. Be your own example
If you are tired of your partners/family bad eating habits, I’ve learnt (the hard way) that the worst thing you can do is forcefeed them your barley and hemp protein saying BE HEALTHY NOW! EAT THIS – THAT IS AN ORDER!!!! In fact as all nagging, it has the complete opposite effect and a waste of time. Food is so personal – our relationships with food are so individual and unique. I remember when I was younger (and bigger) I loathed people trying to “advise” me on healthy eating. I just wasn’t in that head space and I wasn’t ready – I was in full blown denial and no amount of “encouragement” did any good.
What I have been doing is focussing on my plate. As the great Mahatma Gandhi says “Be the change you want to see in the world”. You can’t control what he wants to eat, but you can control what YOU eat. If you are cooking for the both of you, play with your portions so maybe your plate has a higher ratio of greens than his, for example, or take a smaller slice of lasagne instead of 50:50 if you are wanting to lose weight. I honestly believe that a positive, healthy committed lifestyle is contagious. People will see you looking brighter, feeling better and will link your behaviours to your visible results.
3. Muscle in some control
If you are doing more of the shopping and cooking – you can actually have a lot of say of what gets eaten at your home on a daily basis. You can’t complain or blame your partner or kids eat unhealthy if you are the one stocking the cupboards! I’ve been experimenting with limiting the bulk of our food shop to clean filling and healthy foods and making foods with those ingredients that taste great but also are good for you (double score!) If you live with housemates or parents, try and negotiate to get in a little shop of your own or your own corner of the fridge shelf (God I remember those days…!) so you can control what you cook and eat.
4. Stop saying “Clean” and “Healthy” to him all.the.freaking.time
I know we love the movement – we love eating clean, eating healthy and eating filling… but imagine a world where food is just healthy – it doesn’t have to be proclaimed at every meal “see? i told you clean is great” or “see i told you Kale is healthy”. Let food just be food. Let meals together be about love, about friendship, about companionship, taste and enjoyment. It goes back to my point about nagging and harping on about stuff expecting it to force change. Let your actions speak volumes. Soon those “clean” dishes will become family favourites. For example, I made a butternut squash “mash potato” which we had with lovely posh sausages – and now its my husbands firm favourite mash we don’t make anything else! Also after cooking lots of (healthy) dinners together, we now only stock brown rice as my husband prefers it to white! Let healthy foods be the norm, the default , the standard in your home – so that you can use that energy to focus on other things in your relationship!
It won’t happen overnight, but I hope these truths and tips will help you slowly but surely make some changes not only in your own nutrition but also in eating healthier as a couple
love Grace xxx