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the nutritionally recalcitrant spouse . . . part two (of four)

Robyn Openshaw - May 02, 2008 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

TWO, a major reason you’re enthusiastically moving ahead with health-related dietary changes and he’s resisting is this: you’ve been educated, and he hasn’t!   Obviously, or you wouldn’t be blogging on with full confidence that he’ll never see it!   😉

Ever go on long car trips?   I read China Study on a 10-hr. drive when it first came out, and reading bits of it out loud to DH and discussing it with him helped us make a lot of progress.   This kind of thing must be done in a “Wow, honey, can you believe this–so interesting!” kind of way, rather than a “I hereby condescend to educate you because your nutrition knowledge lacunae must be ameliorated” kind of way.   Your chats in the evening when the kids are in bed, or your weekly date night, or the dinner table, are more places to share pieces of what you’ve learned, a little at a time.

If he’s a logic guy, be SURE to cite empirical evidence, with details.   If he’s an emotion-based guy, tell him a testimonial of a friend whose health problems similar to his have vanished, eating whole foods–or  rave about  how your own health is improving.

And have low expectations: you’re not going to convert him overnight.   Your best shot at converting him is with the way he feels, over time, eating delicious, whole plant foods and cutting out most/all of the junk.

THREE, having said all that—and this is just my opinion—once you have come to realize that (1) you promote your family’s health following recommendations and (2) you harm your family with junk food . . . well, you have no obligation or motivation to provide junk food.   Your education means you can never go back to ignorance—which is NOT bliss, of course.  What DH does at work is his business.   But if you try to make dishes that taste good and are nutritious, you have met your obligation to your family.   (Many American women aren’t cooking anything from scratch.)   Be at peace with that despite DH’s misgivings and  mini-freakouts.   I realize this is a strong opinion and some may disagree (feel free to sound off!), but I would not provide a healthy meal for you and the kids, and a second meal of beef burritos and ice cream for DH.   This sends a mixed, confusing message to the kids, and it’s so much work for you that you’ll burn out.

Even if you were making traditional meat-and-potatoes standard American diet dishes, he wouldn’t like everything you made, right?   He’s a grownup and can go out of his way to provide himself disease-promoting foods if he would like to.   If it’s harder for him rather than easier, he’s more likely to just eat what you’ve made, and he just might love it!   Last night I served a raw, sprouted-quinoa salad and steamed broccoli for dinner.   DH (kids, too) LOVED it.   Twenty years ago, that meal would have resulted in Shock and Awe.   I’ll post the recipe when I’m done with this series.

Lest  Point Three  sound like I’m encouraging a power struggle, I’m not.    I’m not saying you don’t compromise.   For instance, perhaps you’d like to go veg, but he wants meat every day, and you settle on fish or chicken twice a week.   But make it something you can live with that isn’t going to significantly compromise what you now know!   Make that fish portion  tiny, on a plate piled high with salad.   And  take the high road:  don’t offer anger or domination, just your calm and peaceful assurance that you want to do the very best for him and your family.

Posted in: Relationships, Whole Food

16 thoughts on “the nutritionally recalcitrant spouse . . . part two (of four)”

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  1. you are so right about the burn out. my MIL baby’d her children so much that I have been making 2 meals for years now. Keep in mind my husband is a truck driver so he is not always here so I haven’t been doing this daily but it does still lead to burn out AND it does indeed send a mixed message to the kids. baby steps are in progress now 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I got a turbo blender when I saw its virtues and listened to my sister. When I got it home my husband was very upset about the cost. When I blended a breakfast shake he surprisingly tasted it. One taste though, and he totally rejected it. I must say it didn’t taste that great to me either. I added some sweetener and it was better, but he will not readily agree to drink things I blend. He is very resistant to any change in our diet. I am trying to get junk food out of our house, but when we go shopping, here comes the junk. We eat out alot and I have no idea how we would follow your diet plan if we are away from the house and want to eat out.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      People used to the Standard American Diet often don’t like the taste of natural foods. Go off sugar for 4 days and fruits and naturally sweetened foods will taste a LOT better to you. When I’m away from home, I do a lot of things (I blogged a lot about my travels 2 years ago) but one thing we do is find a Sweet Tomatoes / Soup Plantation or somewhere else with a salad bar.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You have addressed so well an issue we are currently dealing with and trying to solve. Mu husband is willing to make some changes but resists the total vegetarian route. He seems more willing to try new recipes but doesn’t care for old standards being changed. Green smoothies are a big hit with him and we are trying to eat the same foods with slight variations- like for him, I put a little organic bison in his taco salad. So far , it’s working. Thanks for all your help and insights.

  4. Anonymous says:

    My husband is not much of a reader but he loves audio books, so I had him listen to the China Study. To my amazement he is now totally on board with the vegetarian (mostly vegan) diet and drinks a green smoothie every morning. I use the Blendtec blender to make three big servings. My husband and I each drink a serving in the morning and I drink the third serving at night.

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Beverly, wonderful! I didn’t know it was an audio book, and I’m glad to know!

  5. I watched your videos getting ready to share some with friends and DH walked through, sat down, and wouldn’t let me turn them off till he’d seen the whole batch. He’s talking to all his friends and takes a quart of smoothie with him every Sunday and shares with those working through lunch at the Church! He’s got everyone drinking them and we’re starting a 12 steps group for the new year!

    Thanks for all you do to provide great educational materials.

  6. These are great tips Robyn! We have a standard at our house that I only make one meal for the family and if there is something you don’t want, you don’t have to eat it. We also often are able to encourage our 4 yr old to eat things she’s hesitant to try knowing she’s allowed to spit it out if she hates it. I don’t eat things I hate, so I don’t make my kids either. It works well for us.

  7. Anonymous says:

    My husband is a California fireman and it too takes his Green Smoothies to work with him on Sunday morning! I replish him on Tuesday’s. I have turn Green Smoothies on to so many people it is unreal. I love it.

    Robyn you are doing wonderful things and I thank you.

    I’m so thankful I found you!


  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad to hear that we all share a common hurdle. I’ve gone 100% vegan, and my husband pretty much eats whatever I put in front of him so he is being converted one meal at a time. I’ve tried to share information and the virtues of eating a plant based diet so that maybe he could stop taking all the medications for high BP, cholesterol, etc. Sadly he believes in the medical profession’s drug pushing ways and says he is doing fine. Oh well, guess I’ll just keep the focus on me for now because I’m loving it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I read on a juicing website that green smoothies were dangerous because they go against the natural process of digestion. My thinking is if we can blend food for babies, why not adults. It’s weird, some raw vegans are against juicing and some are against green smoothies and some promote lots of greens and some promote only 10% greens. Personally, I eat alot of fruit and greens and 10% fat, drink juice and green smoothies. I’m trying to get off salt and vinegar from salad dressings( from eatind out). Any great raw lowfat salad dressing recipes?

  10. I don’t see any other guys talking about this problem, but in our house I’m the vegan and my wife is the one resisting the lifestyle. I’ve been vegan for about two years. My wife has resisted even talking about the subject. She wants me to believe she knows more about how to eat than I do even though she has not taken the time to read any of the books I leave laying around the house like The China Study or The Green Smoothies Diet. She has even gone on a different diet which involves taking a lot of supplements and avoiding many things which are vegetarian foods. She fixes a meal for herself and has the kids fix something like ramen noodles and I buy and fix my own food. The kids refuse to eat anything I prepare because “if its good for you, it obviously taste bad”. I don’t force my eating habits on my kids or my wife, but if we were all on the same page, it would be a lot easier for me. I even offered to do all the grocery shopping and prepare all the meals as I like to do it, but was flat out told that won’t work. When I get the kids by themselves, and have them try my food, they usually like it, but when they get with the other kids they take the side of the junk food. I’m going through a real struggle. Suggestions anyone?

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Randy, you’re a minority–98% of the time, it’s the wife telling me this–but I will post this on my blog sometime soon to see if anyone has any words of wisdom for you. In four years of running this site and speaking in public, I’ve had maybe 6-8 men tell me this. Hang in, my friend. If nothing else, the kids are getting one great example and that’s better than none.

    2. Brett says:

      Randy — I am a husband in a similar boat. My wife is a home maker and we have five children. We eat pretty healthy already but I have found that we could be doing much better. So, I am on a slow conversion of the family – waging a little insurgency little by little. Here are my suggestions for you. I did a 21 day “recharge” where I told my wife while I was in a post surgery phase that I wanted to give my body the best opportunity to heal and thought this was a good way to do it. As a result, I cooked all my own meals (sometimes asked the kids to help me). When I found certain recipes that tasted really good to me, I would share them with my wife and, on a very rare occasion, with the kids. She started to see that this was not just a crazy idea but something that could be incorporated into our life. When I finished the 21 days, we added some new recipes to the normal line up. I am now in phase two where every night I make smoothies for the next day. I always make extra and am finding that the extra shaker bottles I leave in the fridge when I go to work are gone by the time I get home. I am moving to phase three where I ask for a couple meals a week to be whole foods meals that I know my wife will enjoy. Hopefully we can build from there.
      The bottom line is that I am taking a long view on this. Even if I cannot get full conversion, I am hoping that we will be able to have developed some much healthier alternatives for the whole family for the future. Good luck to you!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the “subtle teaching” method. I’ve done tons of reading on vegetarian diets in the past few years. All along the road, I’ve shared statistics, healings, testimonials, etc with hubby who grew up hard-core meat and potatoes. He thought the only veggies were green beans, corn and peas from a can. He’s serious about athletics and thought all vegetarians were skinny and weak, so I read up on athletes like Brendan Brazier and Robert Cheeke. I shared some of their stories and information. As he expressed concerns about some of his parents’ health conditions, I researched and shared research showing how a veg diet would drastically reduce or eliminate those health problems. Since he saw them as being inevitable for himself, he took notice. Finally, he saw me struggle with my own health as I compromised and ate meat with him. I finally told him that it was really hurting me and that the only way I would stop was if I didn’t have to prepare it for him and the kids, so I wouldbn’t be tempted. I found it easier to just decide to be fully veg than to compromise and have meat in the house. He enthusiastically agreed to go that direction with me, agreeing to eat meat only when he was away from home a couple of times a week. I can’t say he’s noticed huge changes, but he has stopped having stomach problems from drinking milk, and he’s been really excited about the new recipes I’ve packed for his lunches (in fact, some co-workers have asked to try them or to get the recipes). I just tried to maintain a position of sharing information rather than preaching or pushing.

  12. Ana says:

    My husband and I just finished the 26 days detox program. My husband lost 18 pounds, amazing!!! I lost only five. The bottom line is that my son is very resistant but he has asked me to fix salads for him also. I don’t buy any sodas or junk food any more. I buy plenty of fruits and vegetables so if he goes to the fridge that is what he find and end up getting that, “fruit”.

    During our detox, we celebrated our anniversary and went away for a couple of days so we got a cooler full of watermelon, grapes, green smoothies all ready fixed and stop for salads on our way. Yes, it takes conviction but once you start and start feeling better; you can not go back.

    Thank you, “GreenSmoothie Girl” there are many great things that had happened during our detox that we can not thank you enough.

    God bless you and your team!

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