How to Eat Healthy When Your Partner Doesn't Want To

These tips can help you navigate what to do when your eating habits don’t align.

February 11, 2022

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Cropped shot of a man having his wife taste the food that he's preparing


Cropped shot of a man having his wife taste the food that he's preparing

Photo by: Dean Mitchell

Dean Mitchell

The people you’re surrounded by can play a significant role in your food choices. This is especially the case with your significant other, because you’re likely sharing lots of meal times together. If your eating habits don’t align, you may end up cooking completely different meals or ordering out from different places. Something meant to be fun, like going out for brunch, can start to become stressful if your partner isn’t open to your new ways of eating. I’ve had many clients who are motivated to eat healthier and have tried everything to get their partners onboard. Oftentimes, this can result in tension or arguments if there isn’t open communication about where the other person is coming from. Here are some strategies that I’ve used in my nutrition practice that may be helpful for navigating this with your partner.

Being Pushy Usually Doesn’t Work.

You are your own person, and it’s OK to not want to do the same things as your partner, even if you think it’s good for them. When we get close to someone, it can be really exciting to share activities together, including cooking and going out to eat. We can still do these things while creating and honoring boundaries. There could be a number of reasons your partner doesn’t want to get onboard with how you’re eating. This doesn’t mean that they don’t care about their health or don’t want to support you in making changes. Whether or not you agree with their reasoning, you should respect where they’re at without judgment. In my experience, making lifestyle changes to please someone else is usually short-lived, because the person doing these changes doesn’t have that intrinsic motivation. Making your partner feel bad because they’re not eating vegetables or exercising regularly will likely not result in long-term change.

Focus on You.

Making lasting lifestyle changes is hard enough, so instead of putting energy into getting someone else on board, redirect that energy back into yourself. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress and frustration, and you can use this as an opportunity to explore your food needs a little deeper. What foods do you enjoy eating? Which eating patterns help you feel your best? Are there foods considered “healthy” that you actually don’t like? These questions are a great way to explore your unique sweet spot that honors pleasure and nutrition. Instead of focusing on what you (or others) should be eating, you’ll be able to develop a deeper understanding of what makes you feel your best.

Enjoy Food Differently but Together.

Eating different meals doesn’t mean you can’t bond over food. You can still go food shopping together, taking into account each of your preferences and dislikes. Cooking can be a great opportunity to spend time together and foster gratitude for the food you’re eating. If this is something you’re both into, you can set aside time each week to cook up a good meal in the kitchen. Similarly, if ordering out is your thing, you can both look up places that offer food options for the both of you.

As a registered dietitian/nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator, Wendy Lopez, MS, RDN, CDCES is passionate about accessible and culturally relevant nutrition education. She is the co-host of the Food Heaven Podcast, and the co-founder of Food Heaven, an online platform that provides resources on cooking, intuitive eating, wellness and inclusion. When not working on creative projects, Wendy also provides nutritional counseling and medication management to patients with diabetes.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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