My guy eats like crap.
I knew this before we moved in together, but I thought I’d be fine. I'd just make him his creamy, greasy dinners and then cook myself something healthy. But five pounds on my hips later, I realized that plan had backfired. Making two meals a night was too tiring, and in my constant effort to please, I ended up serving myself a small portion of his fatty dinners.
This cycle of abuse had to stop. I had to get myself back on track: brown rice instead of white; high-fiber, not sugary, cereal; and a salad before dinner to help fill me up. For the past 10 years (after my freshman 15), I’ve been focused on keeping my body healthy, and I needed to get my man on board too.
Tactic 1: Find Compromises Together
So, one Saturday morning, my guy and I set out for the grocery store for what seemed like the first time in ages. It was foreign territory to him -- he kept gravitating toward the frozen foods (where the pizza is kept) and the cereal aisle (because what’s a day without Lucky Charms, really?).
After some heavy negotiation, we decided on salmon for dinner. He’s afraid of most fish, but I figured salmon safer, less-exotic way to add omega-3s to our diet than, say, roasted tilapia. We picked up the fish, and I tried my best to fill the cart with leafy greens and other vegetables. By the end of our trip, we had a fairly balanced cart. But he'd managed to sneak in a pint of ice cream, a box of chocolate-chip cookies, and a package of bologna (nasty!).
That night, we made broiled salmon with asparagus. He whined about the meal at first, but he did eat it -- and it was nice to spend time together in the kitchen. The only problem is that I’m not sure he’ll appreciate frequent visits to the grocery store. Getting him there once was tough, and I don’t think bribing him with cookies or candy is age-appropriate.
Tactic 2: Go Our Separate Ways
This one was harder than it seemed. I love taking care of my man, and cooking him big meals had become one of the ways I "cared." Now I was going to have to let him fend for himself, hoping that he’d hate it, notice my colorful, balanced meals, and want to try some. That’s pretty much how my mom won our family over.
So, one Tuesday after work, I came home and prepared myself vegetable stir-fry over brown rice, seasoned with only soy sauce. When he came to look over my shoulder and -- as expected -- wrinkled his nose, I told him that I had decided to make myself a healthy dinner. He could do what he wanted. He actually sulked halfway through his Velveeta shells before he asked if he could try my dish. He tried it -- and hated it. It was admittedly bland, but at least it was virtually fat-free.
Tactic 3: Make Healthier Versions of Things He Already Likes
This concept seemed easy enough. Instead of beef meatballs, my nutritionist suggested ground turkey mixed with chopped vegetables and flavorful spices (she says he’ll never notice the difference). I was worried I’d have to prepare dinner in the middle of the night to avoid his snooping, but it turns out he was far too absorbed in a baseball game to notice what I was doing in the kitchen. I served my turkey-onion-red pepper meatballs over plain spaghetti (his) and whole wheat spaghetti (mine -- modifying the meal to suit both our tastes was also an expert recommendation). He was impressed with the flavor. And after I divulged my secret, he not only asked for seconds -- he tried the whole wheat!
Although I’m proud of my scrupulous efforts to cut unhealthy foods from my diet, I realized I was being unrealistic in expecting him to do the same.
Making the nutritionist's switches ended up being the best idea. I like preparing one meal and sitting down together to eat. Our dinners have now improved. Finding ways to reform my recipes instead of my man has become fun -- and he's continually impressed at my growing culinary expertise.
Plus, who doesn’t love cuddling with a pint of cookies 'n cream (fro-yo, that is)? Compromise and cuddling -- I think I’m learning what a relationship is really all about.
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