Whether you’re in the beginning stages of your journey to a wellness lifestyle or you’re well into the swing of things, you may still be wondering how to include your loved ones in the journey. Perhaps your spouse or children verbalized the subtle – or loud – doubts you had in your mind when you began implementing new foods, or maybe they’ve shown interest, but meeting them in the middle appears to be a hurdle.
Food is such a big part of our lives, and one of the primary tools we have used to bond throughout history. Some of the world’s most prominent relationships, decisions, and more were made over shared meals. From the dawn of time, we have used food to distinguish our cultures, show love, and solve problems of all kinds. We’ve always used food to express what is in our hearts.
Food has always brought us together, so much so that the word for companion comes from the Latin phrase cum panis which means “bread sharer.” Transitioning from living with your family to living on your own affects your eating habits. The birth of a serious relationship begins to shift your dietary habits again, merging both of your cultural and familial styles of eating with your independent preferences. You both may experience challenges sharing meals when you may have vastly different preferences, but over time you make it work – maybe.
After investing time in grocery shopping, learning, and creating delicious, wholesome meals, it can be tempting, when your efforts are met with complaints or slick remarks to go to the nearest fast-food restaurant and pick up a family-size meal. Deciding to make some healthy adjustments to the household doesn’t have to be a daunting task. It can be an opportunity to improve communication between you and your significant other and grow closer.
Adopt an “intimacy” mindset.
Whether you or your spouse does most of the cooking in the relationship, the communication should start before dinner, be active in the kitchen, and flavor the food that hits the table.
Talking my husband into things never started – or ended – with why I thought it was a good idea. While he loved me and respected my ideas, he was always stuck with things when he felt they were his idea. As I dipped my toe into the world of conscious health, I experimented on my family all the time! My blessed husband was always supportive of my wild goose chases and research, but a lot of times, he was doing it to appease me.
Something major happened when I changed how I approached the conversation.
Instead of me rattling off the list of scientific reasons for us to try the next cleanse I wanted to try, I casually asked him questions that would lead him to think of ways to achieve his health goals and help our family do the same. By asking him questions and allowing him to come to the conclusion himself, not only was he more motivated, but he had a more personal stake in the endeavor. He would look up recipes, contribute to the grocery list without me having to pull teeth, he’d wake up early to prep his meals for the day instead of resorting to the fast-food spots across the street from his job, and he would light up when he saw the results. Instead of me carrying the conversation with apprehension about getting on his nerves by bringing it up too much, he would get so excited to talk about it and figure out the next right moves to continue our progress.
Instead of swooping in with your first objective, if you don’t do this already, make it a habit to ask your partner what their goals are and how they intend to get there. Ask how you can support them. You shouldn’t feel dejected if your significant other isn’t motivated or even headed in the direction you want them to take immediately. With patience, honesty, and sincerity you both should eventually learn a lot about each other and continue growing closer together. Because food is such an emotional thing, becoming a better emotional supporter will put you in a better position to listen, serve, and receive the same support from your spouse.
Have a healthy expectation of “healthy”.
For your own sanity and for the good of those in your home, please, please, PLEASE hear me when I say healthy food is more than seeds, beans, grass, and fad diets. The better you understand this mindset shift, the more freedom you will experience in the kitchen. Healthy eating includes variety, colors, creativity, and food made with flavor and love. It is not only fruits, veggies, and soggy, tasteless, questionable “meat” made from fruits and veggies. In fact, a lot of the foods you’re probably used to eating are very healthy when prepared differently. You don’t have to start making time-consuming, complicated fancy meals you’ve never heard of. The stigma around health can make the journey appear darker and far more stressful than true health should be.
When you’re desiring your lifelong co-eater to help navigate healthier options, it may be most helpful to incorporate simple meals you’re used to having with better ingredients, like grass-fed meats and organic seasonings. If you two are competitive, you can add fun challenges like getting in more steps, sleep, or hydration throughout the week. They say you eat an elephant one bite at a time, so asking your mate to trade something as personal and emotional as the food they’re used to can feel like a big task for them.
Don’t forget to fill your cup.
Of course, maintaining your motivation while trying to motivate your closest partner in life can feel draining, so don’t forget to lean on your community and refill your cup too! Whether your spouse is all-in or completely opposed, having an external community of friends and supporters who are on the same journey as you makes all the difference. Their habits, ideas, and conversations will continue to grow you, mold you, and lead you in the same general direction. If you’re looking for that community, check out iHeal! We are women dedicated to building legacies of wealth in health. You’ll find friends, food, professional support, and a no-judgement zone to ask questions, learn more about your personal health, and receive inspiration.
If you’re looking for a fun, flavorful way to show your spouse the world of healthy eating, book an Intimacy Begins In The Kitchen cooking class! Invite other friends or keep it VIP as you cook together from the comfort of your own home. We’ll pick your meal, then you’ll receive the ingredients in the mail, and receive live, step-by-step virtual training from our Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Sakinah B.! In-person options are available with safety precautions.
Bringing the family back to the table,
Sakinah is an Army Veteran, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Wellness Advocate, Best Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, and Home Grown Chef.
After the untimely death of her husband and business partner and autoimmune complications suffered by her daughter, Sakinah realized life was no longer business as usual. She made the collective decision to redefine how she and her family approached health and healthcare. She has a passion for helping families come back to the table by restoring healthy relationships with food, others, and self. Sakinah believes when women, the cornerstone of the family, learn to restore healthy relationships with food, others, and themselves, it creates a ripple effect for the entire family and generations to come.
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