I decided to start this Nutrition Roadblock Series to address the most common barriers to achieving your sustainable healthy weight that I hear across clients, friends & have personally experienced along the journey. This first topic is near & dear to my heart because I think anyone that’s been in a relationship or marriage has struggled with it.
My first year dating my husband was amazing! Ok yes I’m going to go all cheese ball on you but bare with me for a moment. We met via a run group going on 5 years ago now, a healthy activity right? Absolutely! But during our courtship we ran a few miles, followed by wine & dining ourselves across most of the restaurants in Savannah. For me, I had been living by myself for several years, mostly ate at home, drank only on occasion & definitely did not indulge in dessert on a nightly basis. Yet I found myself digging into the appetizer he wanted to order. Always finishing my entree just because he did. And definitely enjoying that extra glass of wine we ordered over a shared dessert to end the evening. All super romantic right? Well yes but 10lbs or more later, I was not feeling like myself or good in my body. And what about him? Yea he hadn’t changed a bit. Men…
After a year of dating we moved in together. I was still very much struggling to both fit in to old jeans & say no to the extra servings at dinner or dining out on a daily basis. It wasn’t fair! We both ran, I went to the gym far more frequently then he did & yet even switching to more salads still wasn’t making the impact on my waistline I wanted. I wasn’t at an unhealthy weight by any stretch & he still thought I looked amazing, but that wasn’t the point. I didn’t feel good in my skin, I wasn’t listening to what my body needed, I didn’t stop eating when I was full or not eat when I simply wasn’t hungry. It was definitely a learning curve I had to work on.
So what did I do? Baby steps:
1. Communication: Yes it was uncomfortable for me to admit & I didn’t want to sound like that girl saying I was fat to get a compliment. But I got 100% honest with my husband about how I was feeling & what I needed from him. I told him that constantly going out to eat was a struggle for me, that when I first said no I don’t want dessert it made it hard when he insisted & that most of all I needed his support to get back to feeling my best! Also important to note, I did not BLAME him! I am responsible for my own actions & while I wanted his support, ultimately I put the food in my own mouth.
2. Evaluate: I started writing down what I ate every day to become more mindful. I used a journal to not only note what I ate, but how I felt before & after. Was I hungry or stressed when I ate? Did I say “sure I could eat” just because he asked? Did I refill my plate automatically when he did, even if I was satisfied. I worked on making notes without judgement or even making changes. I just needed to become more aware of where the problems were so I could fix it.
3. Action: It was time to take steps to slowly make better choices for ME & my needs.
~ Clean Out: first I emptied the house of any junk food that tempted me. That made the nightly ice cream habit much easier to ditch. How did my husband react? He didn’t really care if it made me happy. Happy wife, happy life yes?
~ Portions: I realized my portion sizes had become as big as my husbands. That is a problem because reality is ladies, we don’t have the same energy needs as our bigger male counterparts. It may feel unfair but that’s a fact that’s not going to change. I began eating off salad size plates as opposed to his dinner plates. Smaller bowls for soups & such. That easy swap made a HUGE difference right off the bat!
~ Dining Out: I instituted Sunday meal prep. It’s wasn’t the meal prep that was so important as it was taking the time to sit with my husband & discuss the week ahead. We each voiced our goals & how we could support each other. We each had a say in what meals we would make that we enjoyed & didn’t leave us running for take out because we had no food in the house.
~ Simple Swaps: There were plenty of nights my husband had a specific craving that didn’t really fit within my perimeters for MY nutrition needs. I got efficient at make simple swaps to keep up both happy! Spaghetti? Sure! I just may use spaghetti squash or zoodles over regular noodles. He wanted rice? No problem, I had the option of making cauliflower rice or simply doubling up on the veggies. And if he needed to go all out pizza mode, I’m a grown woman & did my own damn thing.
I never went into crazy diet mode, made him feel limited & didn’t beat myself up over the occasional overindulgence. Over time I started to feel better, became more in touch with my bodies hunger signals & this became our new normal. Yes, I am lucky to have a supportive spouse who is pretty patient with my needs. Not everyone does & maybe that’s a red flag that needs to be considered. But I have found in most cases, a lack of honest communication & support it the problem.
Couples can be each others best friends in a health journey or worst enemies. So get real with each other! Focus on the WHY behind the need to clean up your dietary intake. Is it to look good in skinny jeans (which is fine!) or to set a healthy household example? Also consider if you are being the best spouse you can be or are you just as guilty of instigating unhealthy habits. I think we have all convinced our significant other to join in on our treat to make ourselves feel less guilty. Work on changing your own habit first to be the best spouse you can be. A strong healthy team can be unbreakable!
Do you struggle with mirroring your significant others eating?
healthy eating, healthy habits, nutrition roadblock, portions, simple swaps, spouse