One of the most common reasons women give for why they can’t eat healthy is that they’re in a relationship with a partner who doesn’t ⠀
If you can relate, this post is for you.⠀⠀
Learning how to better yourself, regardless of whether or not you feel supported by others, is one of the most important things you can do — both for your relationship with yourself and with others.
So today I’m going to teach you everything you need to know to remove one of the biggest perceived obstacles to eating healthier.
Here’s how to do it…
How to Eat Healthy in a Relationship (Even When Your Partner Doesn’t)
In the last several years, I completely changed my life. I went from a fast-food and sweets obsessed college student to a full-blown nutrition nerd and Health Coach….all while dating same man.
Let me just say, we did not go on this health journey together!
In the beginning, when I first stopped being down for the late night ice-cream runs and takeout pizza, he definitely thought I was going through a phase…
He wasn’t interested in changing anything about his food. He kept his sugary cereal, frozen pizzas and nightly sweets. Meanwhile, I studying nutrition and getting certified to become a Health Coach!
Flash forward a few years: Now we’re happily married and we have an easy routine that lets us to both eat the foods we like without any drama. ⠀
Here’s how it happened: ⠀⠀
- I didn’t expect him to change just because I did.
- I didn’t compromise my values to accommodate him.
- I set up our environment to make healthy choices easier.
- I chose to lead by example and let my results do the talking.
(…he did eventually come around and start eating healthier too — but we’ll get to that part soon 😉 )
Learning how to make healthier choices, just for me, regardless of what others around me thought or said was life-changing.
It gave me a new level of self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment. I felt inspired to continue pushing myself toward personal growth in other ideas of my life.
That sense of accomplishment and confidence is exactly what I want for you too!
So here’s everything you need to about how to eat healthy in a relationship, even if your partner doesn’t…
Tip 1: Don’t expect them to change just because you did.
Having expectations for how other people should act will only cause unnecessary pain and suffering for yourself.
Before you think I’m telling you to lower your expectations of your significant other, or never ask anything of them again, let me explain…
Obviously you need to have standards and boundaries in terms of what you will and won’t tolerate in a relationship. That’s not what I’m talking about here.
Instead, I’m referring to the expectations we subconsciously place on others to think and act the same we do.
Hoping someone will act a certain way is one thing, but trying to force it and being overwhelmed with negative thoughts and feelings when it doesn’t work out is another.
Here’s an example…
You cook a new, healthy recipe for you and your partner. They taste what you made but they don’t like it. They order takeout instead of eating the food you cooked for them. — How do you feel?
If you came into this situation with the expectation that they should want to eat the same meal as you, you’d end up feeling disappointed and hurt.
If you cook this meal just because you wanted to and offered it to them with NO expectations around how they should respond, you might be feeling excited and encouraged by their reaction because they were open to trying something new!
In this scenario, it wasn’t your partner’s actions creating your feelings of either disappointment or excitement…instead it was your thoughts about their actions.
This is true for every difficult situation you’ll encounter on your health journey.
That’s why it’s important to stop expecting that your partner will make the same changes you make.
Do this for YOU.
Their willingness to change has nothing to do with your ability to succeed.
Tip 2: Don’t compromise your values to accommodate them.
A lot of women will complain that it’s hard to eat healthy at home because they feel like they have to make something totally separate for themselves, since they’re partner doesn’t care about healthy eating.
I think this is a pretty lame excuse.
I’ve never cooked separate meals for Hunter and I just because he wasn’t interested in eating all the vegetables that I was.
That’s how I know you don’t need to choose between making something they’ll eat and making something that fits into your healthy lifestyle…
You can have both at the same time!
Here’s what I suggest:
- Make one protein as the base for both your meals.
- Make a veggie-based side for you.
- Have whatever side they’ll want to eat there as well.
- Leave the toppings on the side so you can each control how much you want.
Mind-blowing stuff, I know.
But yet, so many women feel like they have to choose between eating the frozen pizza their partner wants or boring chicken and vegetables for the millionth time.
Instead, I’ve found that having just a slightly different variation of the same meal as your partner is the easiest way to feel like you’re eating together, without needing to compromise your healthy diet.
This could look like:
- spaghetti with real pasta for them and spaghetti squash for you
- tacos with tortillas and chip for them and a “burrito bowl” with cauliflower rice for you
- burgers with a bun for them and a lettuce wrap for you
- chicken with a side of fries for them and roasted veggies for you
Hopefully you get the picture. Essentially, just stop over-complicate things.
Eat what you want and let them eat what they want. You can make almost any meal your own.
You don’t have to compromise the healthy foods you want to eat just to make them happy.
What you choose to eat has nothing to do with them.
(For more on how I plan our meals, check out my blog post: How to Build a Weekly Meal Plan (And Actually Stick To It))
Tip 3: Set up your environment to make healthy choices easier.
If you live alone, you can throw away the unhealthy food you in your house and then, BOOM, you just solved the problem of being tempted to eat things you don’t really want.
You still have the option to drive to the store and buy it, but typically, by the time you go through all that trouble the cravings have diminished significantly.
However, if you live with your significant other and you try this approach, you might end up with a very pissed-off roommate! I wouldn’t recommend it…
So if you spontaneously start craving Oreos every time you have to reach around their box to grab something in the pantry, it’s time to look for another solution…
In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear coined the term “environment design”, which refers to changing your surroundings to make good choices easier and bad choices harder.
He explains how to apply it like this:
“Think about your environment in relation to the number of steps it takes to perform a habit. To make good habits easier, reduce the number of steps to do them. To make bad habits harder, increase the number of steps between you and the habit.”
In the example with the Oreos, if you feel tempted whenever you see them, simply moving them to another spot in the kitchen that you visit less often could solve your problem!
In my home, we confine ant candy and less-than-healthy snacks into one box in the pantry.
It’s out of the way so if we want to have a treat, you better believe we’re doing it intentionally — no pantry-grazing!
Keeping unhealthy food out of sight is a good way to set yourself up for success, even if you can’t remove them from your home completely.
Tip 4: Choose to lead by example and let your results do the talking
When you’re excited about making changes to better yourself and your health, it’s tempting to try and bring everyone you love along for the ride.
Maybe you’ve already been doing some learning, setting health goals, and starting to create new healthy habits…
You made your way through that initial adjustment period and after a little while, you start to see a difference in the way you look and feel— yay, go you!
At this point, it’s tempting to start pointing out how much better your partner could also feel if they just followed in your footsteps.
It’s amazing that you love you partner so much that you want to help them to feel as kick-ass as you do!
But before you start trying to convert them to your new healthy lifestyle, we need to pump the breaks for a minute…
Remember that everyone is on their own journey. Your significant other might not be at the place yet where they feel ready to change this area of their life.
That is totally OK!
You can’t expect them to be growing, developing and changing on the same exact timeline as you.
All the unsolicited advice, comments “made with love”, and downright nagging them to change will only make them more resistant. (Trust me, I had to learn this lesson the hard way.)
If you want your partner to eat healthier, you need to put a HARD STOP to any negative comments you’ve been making to them about their choices.
Always encourage them if/when they do decided (on their own) to make healthier choices, but leave it at that.
The best thing you can do to help them is to lead by example and let your results do the talking for you.
When they see you looking healthier, feeling more energized, and actually ENJOYING the healthy choices you’re making, they’ll eventually be more open to doing the same.
A Final Note!
If you’re looking to better yourself by creating a healthier lifestyle, you must first learn how to eat healthy in a relationship, even if your partner doesn’t.
The best way to inspire change in the others is to embody that change in yourself.
Just remember, your partner knows you well enough to know if you’re faking it…
If you’re on a diet that you hate and you feel restricted and deprived, they’re not going to sign up for that.
But when you truly learn to fall in love with your healthy lifestyle and enjoy the process, that energy becomes so attractive to others!
Let your positive energy and balanced lifestyle be a living testament to the value of a healthy lifestyle.
September 16, 2021