The decision to start eating healthier is one of the most important measures you can take to savor your present and safeguard your future.
But what happens when you come home with veggies and hummus only to find your partner digging into a bucket of fried chicken? Not only can the temptation test your resolve, but it can also increase the risk of health issues for the person you love.
Getting your significant other to eat healthier doesn’t have to arrive with ultimatums, shaming (always forbidden) or a fight. Rather, you can use your knowledge and a few savvy skills to empower them to make smart choices for the future you have together—and, even more importantly, for themselves.
Here are five ways to get your partner away from the nachos and towards the quinoa:
1. Give experiential gifts in lieu of food
In the early stages of a relationship, it’s all too easy to want to please your partner—but it can sometimes arrive at a price. If you’ve gotten into the habit of bringing your boyfriend chocolate to satisfy his sweet tooth, craft beers for game night, and pizza to celebrate everything from promotions to the fact that it’s a Friday, rethink your strategy and aim to give them something experiential instead.
A gift card for a massage, a weekend of camping in the woods, a windsurfing lesson or a month’s membership at your local CrossFit—all convey the same message as food: I want to nourish you because I care. Bonus points? He or she may pick up on the shift, and begin giving you more, well, nutritious gifts.
2. De-tempt your personal stock
It may be challenging for your partner to ignore that bag of chips when it’s the first thing they see in the pantry—particularly if eating healthy isn’t even on their radar. To encourage mindful eating, toss the candy, ice cream, soda and starchy snacks and fill your kitchen with sensible, nutrient-rich foods instead. Better yet, showcase them in an instantly-seeable and appealing way, whether it’s a bowl of glossy apples on your counter or pre-cut, ready-to-eat vegetables on your fridge’s top shelf.
3. Do a few simple kitchen swaps
Those not in the know tend to have a fear of changing foods they’ve long loved—particularly if it entails changing them to things that have a reputation as bland or unpleasant. Delightfully surprise them by making a few crafty adjustments in the kitchen instead.
Does your wife love Taco Tuesdays at home? Forgo ground beef for lean, ground turkey, use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, include less cheese but more lettuce, onions, peppers,and pico de gallo, and substitute cheddar-smothered refried beans and rice for black beans and brown rice. Does your husband crave ice cream sundaes? Buy a pint of high-quality coconut milk ice cream—Luna & Larry’s is one of the best—and sprinkle in an antioxidant-rich combo of blueberries, strawberries, nuts and cacao nibs. Chances are, the better they feel after eating, the more they’ll yearn for your alternatives (and, in some cases, may not even realize the difference).
4. Educate and embolden them
Receiving unsolicited advice on one’s eating habits—or a crash course on the benefits Paleo—are understandably exasperating. But sitting down with your significant other and explaining why you’ve chosen to go keto will likely pique their interest—and perhaps inspire them to sign up for the challenge.
Likewise, involving them in making wise, healthy decisions, whether it’s opting to try out the new sushi spot instead of your usual Italian (read: pasta) haunt, or asking him or her what type of fruit they’d like from the farmer’s market, will galvanize them—and reassure them they have a say in the matter. In turn? The reasons for eating well will fall into their wheelhouse.
5. Do what you say—and say what you do
There are few things more frustrating than having your partner make a seemingly brilliant-sounding suggestion only to watch them do the antithesis. Meaning, it can be hypocritical—and unkind—to encourage your significant other to eat well while you’re having your way with a dish of cheesecake.
Rather, lead by example and be honest when you’ve hit a roadblock of your own, whether it’s a craving for a soft pretzel when you’re trying to go gluten-free or a plateau in your fitness regimen. Being vulnerable with each other not only mitigates stress and opens the pathway to connection; it can also contribute to coming up with creative solutions as a couple. And isn’t that a big part of why you’re together?