5 Ways to Eat Healthy With Your Partner
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
Summer is officially here and it’s sure feeling like it here on the Canadian prairies! I welcomed my first (and hopefully last) sunburn of the season the other day with open arms - sunburns are almost like a right of passage to truly know that you experienced summer! Another thing that I notice happens for myself and others during the beginnings months of spring and summer, is that it’s a time where a lot of us set the intention that we’re going to start “eating more healthy”. Now, that can mean a lot of different things and the motivation behind this intention or resolve might be to maintain your own health goals or maybe you’re wanting to make a new lifestyle change. In any case, the specifics behind it will be different for everyone, but I believe that most of us lean towards eating with the seasons which includes consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables along with upping our water intake during the warmer months.
While the intention of eating healthier is good…even amazing, it can be very difficult to maintain when you’re not supported by those close to you. It’s kind of like trying to quit smoking; you’re waaaayyy more tempted to continue smoking if your partner is blatantly doing it in front of you. And for most of us, the same goes with our food choices. Our partners are often the centre of our support system, which makes them the strongest asset to feeling supported, but sometimes they're also the most challenging.
We Didn’t Always Eat Healthy
When my partner Calan and I first met, eating healthy together was not a priority. Like many of us in new relationships, we ate out a lot, having many date nights eating pizza, all you can eat sushi, deserts and alcohol. At this time, neither of us were even entertaining the idea of being plant-based; in fact, I even remember saying repeatedly, “I could never not eat meat!” When we did eat at home, we consumed a lot of processed foods like prepared chicken fingers, fries, breaded chicken breasts, cheesy pastas, bread, bacon, sugar and everything dairy. I didn't even know what an avocado was. I’ll pause here for a moment and say that although my partner and I were on the same page with the way were eating, we were also supporting each other in a very unhealthy cycle. Eating like this became an addiction and was most definitely an unhealthy coping mechanism for me to deal with stress after a hard day at work. There were many days where I would get home from work (I get home before Calan so I’m usually the one preparing dinner) and I would be so completely exhausted from my day that I would literally lay on the couch and sometimes nap until Calan got home 90 minutes later and say “I just can’t make dinner” and he would in-turn say, “Okay, should we go out to eat?” and I would never, ever disagree. As this is all unfolding you can see that this became a bad, bad habit. You see, we were just not handling life in a positive way at that time. Calan is also so damn kind to me and he really understands and empathizes with the stressors of my job so he just fell into my unhealthy frame of mind trap which continued on for the first eight years of our relationship.
And Then Things Changed
One of the things that really started to move us in a healthier direction was that I started to feel really sick when I ate red meat and dairy. I tried to put up with it and work through it for awhile because as we all know, bad habits are the hardest to change. Ultimately, I got so sick that I ended up going on an elimination diet which you can read more about here. I found out what I was intolerant to and that jump-started our journey of eating healthier and incorporating more of a plant-based lifestyle. Because this change in lifestyle really started with me getting on board with a new menu that I wasn't used to, it was at times difficult to get us both on the same page - and when I say "us" I really mean me. Calan was so supportive and open to most of this and I was really good at self-sabotaging what I needed most. It was really hard for me not to fall back into old habits, especially when I was the one cooking for us. Calan is also an athlete and sometimes felt like he needed to consume meat for sufficient protein. So between me wanting to sabotage my new journey and Calan being open but feeling like he needed some of the food items we used to eat, it seemed difficult to navigate this new path and stay on track. I’m also not the person who has energy after work to cook two entirely different meals so we HAD to make this work. As you can see, this was a big (and needed) change and it didn’t come easy; it took communication, vulnerability and for me, being honest with myself and being true to what my body needed.
5 Ways to Eat Healthy With Your Partner
1. Re-invent Your Favorites: Trying to switch up your entire meal plan to a more healthier lifestyle may be difficult, especially if you haven’t been used to it and also if your partner isn’t quite on board yet. I’m here to tell you to TAKE. IT. SLOW. Often when people try to switch up everything at one time, it leads to failure because it was just too much, too fast. Plus, we crave what we can’t have which can lead to self-sabotage. Try to experiment and weave in some of those healthier alternatives, and if you’re not sure what that looks like, the internet will be your best friend! There’s many amazing blogs, recipe website sites and books who are dedicated to this specific topic. Some of my favorite recipe websites for healthy comfort foods are Tasty Vegetarian and Hot For Food.
2. Incorporate Veggies Where you Can: Stir-fry’s are always a great place to start with incorporating veggies. I have an awesome recipe you can find here where you can customize most of the ingredients. Stir-fry’s are usually super flexible and you can switch out most ingredients for one’s you enjoy. Smoothies are also an easy start off point because once again they’re quick to make and they're so customizable with endless variations out there. You can find my favorite green smoothie here.
3. Communicate: I really believe that you’ll have the best results by communicating and compromising with your partner - isn’t that like partnership 101 anyways?! Like I said in point one, take it slow. Just because you have to compromise on something today, doesn’t mean you’ll have to compromise on the same thing a month from now. For example, I really used to hate mushrooms, the texture just doesn’t sit well with me. Meanwhile my partner loves mushrooms and could probably eat them like I eat chips (which is probably a site to see because it doesn’t take me long to devour an entire bag to myself). By starting slow, I can now eat mushrooms incorporated into a meal, I prefer to dice them small, but in some meals like fajitas I can even slice them thinly. Now they are a staple in a lot of the meals we eat and everyone is happy! I’m so brave!
4. Stock Your Cupboards: You’ve probably read this point before, but if you want to make that healthier lifestyle change, you must get rid of the unhealthy items. Exchange those tempting and addictive food and snack items that you just can’t say no to with healthy items, that way, there’s really only one choice - the healthy one! One thing we’ve started doing recently is keeping ingredients to make our own trail mix. For us, it's one trip to Bulk Barn where we purchase raw cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and dairy free chocolate chips and again, it’s totally customizable. This combo satisfies our sweet tooth and the need for crunch and chewiness. I take a mixture to work everyday just to snack on. It’s wonderful and much better than the prepackaged stuff you’d buy in the store. My god-son even loves it and he’s four (and fyi his favourite part of the mixture is the cashews, not the chocolate or the dried cranberries), so I believe in you!
5. Be a Role Model: I think this is probably the most important point in this list. At the end of the day, it’s really important that you just do you. What I've learned (and am honestly still learning) through this journey is if you can stay true to honouring what your body needs, your partner will probably intuitively see that you’re happier and healthier and in-turn become interested in adopting a similar lifestyle. In my relationship, my diet really needed a complete overhaul because of some intolerance's that popped up. I’m really fortunate to have a partner who is open to trying new things, but it was still a lifestyle change and it took time. It was much more difficult for Calan to cut out meat and dairy from his diet than it was for me, but by following my own path, it inspired him to also follow along, because he saw how delicious my food was, and on a more serious note, also saw that I was changing in a positive way because of the healthy food I was consuming.
Do you and your partner have the same definition about healthy eating? Do you have any tips and tricks to share? Let us know below!
Until next time, take care and be kind to yourselves Root & Sprouters!