Falling in love is one of the best feelings you’ll ever experience. There are butterflies in your stomach. There’s a spring in your step. There’s a gentle pitter-patter in your chest.
And as your love grows, oftentimes so does your waistline. Going out for dinner regularly and spending nights on the couch sharing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s can add up. Not to mention you’re likely being exposed to eating habits that are completely different from your own.
As a serial monogamist, I’ve been there. I’ve entered relationships svelte and set in my healthy ways (or so I thought) only to gain weight after adopting more of my significant other’s eating habits.
But gaining relationship weight doesn’t have to be a given. If you take an intentional approach to finding compromise between different eating habits, you can stave off the extra fluff.
The same is true if you started a relationship not concerned with health and then decided that you want to start eating better and exercising.
This article is directed towards couples who live together, but the same ideas can still apply to those who live separately. The topic gets trickier when kids are involved, and as I don’t have children, I didn’t go into those tactics. But if you have any insights that involve eating healthier with kids, please share in the comments.
Before we get into the thick of things, I want to make one thing clear. This article is not about trying to change your partner or get them on board with the same mission as you. Trying to change someone else rarely results in the desired outcome, but it almost always guarantees resentment and pushback. People have to decide to change on their own. But what you can do is be an inspiration to them.
And on that note, get ready for a bit of tough love:
It is not their fault that you eat in an undesirable way.
Whatever you willingly put in your mouth is 100% your responsibility. If you blame your partner for the way you eat, then there is a good chance you will continue to struggle with food.And that’s because oftentimes when one person blames another for a problem, they don’t take action on it themselves. If you think someone else is the problem, you’re less motivated to give 100% because you think 50% is the other person.
And so there’s no power in making yourself out to be the victim of your eating circumstance. Yes, it sucks to eat salad while your partner might be eating a pizza. But in most cases they aren’t forcing you to eat it. The reality is that you have a choice in whatever you put in your mouth. Own it.
There needs to be clear communication about what your desires and goals are.
In a healthy partnership, the other person will support you. If they don’t support you or they feel threatened, then…that’s a whole other topic. But let’s assume your partner has your best interest at heart. It’s so common for us to feel like the other person should be able to read our minds. But they can’t, and it’s not fair to assume that they should be able to. Instead, tell your partner what you want and also what that looks like. Ask them to encourage you and support you.
That conversation might look something like:
“Hey, I really want to lose some weight and eat healthier, and I want to know if you’ll support me in doing that. This is really important to me and I can’t do it without your help.”
- “I would like to only eat out at a restaurant once a week.”
- “I know you do it because you care about me, but please don’t bring me leftovers if you go out to eat.”
- “I appreciate your generosity, but It would be a huge help to me if you didn’t offer me your fries.”
- “Would you be ok with us not buying chips for a while?”
And so on. Don’t take for granted that your partner knows your specific desires. Get it out there in the open and be as specific as possible. Your partner can’t be on your team if they don’t know the rules of the game.
Don’t control or criticize.
This point is simply to do unto others as you’d have done to you. I highly doubt you’d want your partner to tell you what should and shouldn’t be on your plate. So respect their decisions and let them eat in a way they’re comfortable with. You likely wouldn’t want them to criticize you for eating healthy things, so don’t nag them for eating unhealthy things. In fact, nagging and trying to control another person often makes them resist harder.
I know it can be frustrating to get pushback from your partner when you’re trying to make a positive change, but judgment and force are not an ideal response. Instead, focus on yourself. Be a positive influence. Eat your healthy food and be happy for your progress. Exuding the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle is much more likely to influence your partner than berating them or complaining.
Now if you’re the one who does the cooking and therefore controls most of what’s eaten, it gets a bit trickier. Making separate meals for yourself is an option (or might be a necessity if you have dietary restrictions). But if you’d rather cook meals that both you and your partner can enjoy together, clear communication is key. Talk about what you want and how you can find middle ground. Look for a solution. Tell them there are going to be changes but you’ll try to make food as tasty as possible.
The same goes if your partner is the one who does most of the cooking. Tell them your goals and ask them if they can find ways to lighten up certain recipes or make substitutions. Or step up to the plate and offer to help out. There’s a good chance your partner will be very glad to take a load off for the night.
Eat food that you like.
It really sucks to be eating a bland salad while your significant other chows down on a pizza. Trust me, I’ve been there. That’s why it’s important to eat food that you like. You’ll be less tempted to eat what they’re eating. Being healthy or losing weight does not mean eating in a way that makes your miserable. This point is important regardless of your relationship status.
So now that you’ve read these tips, it’s time to put them into action! I’ve included a FREE script for getting your partner on-board with your healthy eating mission. Because it’s not just what we say, it’s how we say it. Click the button below to get your free PDF download 🙂