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I'm a girl but I thought I would post this question to the Men's Health section, since it concerns my husband: How can I encourage him to be healthier without being a nag about it? I truly want to help and I don't know how. He loves everything "nasty" and is the opposite of healthy in nearly every way. I could really use some good advice on how to help as a partner, not a mom.
His stats: 36 years old, losing weight unintentionally, smokes, fatigued, doesn't exercise, gets headaches and unexplained rashes often, has been to the doctor about a dozen times in the last couple years, supports me in my lifestyle but doesn't care to learn about it. Oh yeah, he's from the Midwest and is afraid of most vegetables and anything that says it has lots of fiber (too much "ruffage" for him). He's only 36 but has the energy of an elderly man!
For breakfast he usually has two Pop Tarts and Gatorade. Lunch might be something like a ham and cheese sandwich, chips, and Mountain Dew. Dinner is whatever I make for him, which is often healthy (for him): lean chicken or beef with sides of veggies and whole grains. If left to his own devices, he will go pick up some fast food.
I know that you can't change someone unless they want to change....but I still want to try to push him in a better direction. Leading by example hasn't done anything yet. I would really appreciate any thoughts on the issue, thanks!
I don't know what kind of guy he is, but if he is at all sporty the book Thrive is a hit by the triathlete vegan and if he is kinda punk/man's man Meat is for Pussies is good -
these are both books that have been influential on my guy - he came to healthier eating on his own before I met him because he is very analytical and figured out that if he didn't drink milk suddenly his horrible heartburn went away and bit by bit he figured other stuff out. He's not vegan, but those two books have him making his own granola and wanting a vitamix !
Who does the grocery shopping? you could - if you are in charge - just not bring it all in and if he wants it he has to make that much more of an effort to get it.
I guess if it were me I would do that and and give as my reason that after really thinking about it I realized its not in my best interest to support his eating style because I refuse to spend my later years caring for an invalid, which is what he will be if this is what his health is like at this age!
But I'm not always nice.......ha!
Thank you, ann ann and Tania for your replies! You both have good suggestions.
I do the grocery shopping and have been slowly trying to ease off buying him certain things, only buying him junk if he specifically asks for it, or choosing a better alternative (healthier cereal bar than a Pop Tart, for example). But it's true that I could just not get him any of that at all, and make him put more effort into his decisions. The times that I didn't buy him any "treats" at all, he would go to the store and get them all himself anyway.
My husband's not sporty anymore, but he used to really enjoy riding bikes. I think I want to read both of those books you mentioned. Meat is for Pussies is just a great title, and I've flipped through Thrive at the bookstore and liked it. That doesn't mean he'll like it though.
And Tania, I hadn't thought about diabetes being an issue--thanks so much for pointing that out. The next time he goes to the doctor, I'll suggest that he get tested. I really hope he doesn't have that though! One of my good friends, who is self-employed like us, has type 1 diabetes and just recently, the cost of her health insurance just went up to $1,250 per month. Yikes. Everyone's premiums will be different of course, but still, I can only imagine how much higher ours could go over time. From a financial and health perspective, eating nasty is expensive.
I'm glad to have these forums on hand. I should add that my husband's choices are the norm for everyone in his family and most of our neighbors, so it's nice to have a place to talk to people that I can relate to.
I think Tania makes a really good point about being tested, and as soon as possible. Should he not have diabetes, I think ann ann also makes a good point. He's really young to be having so many problems - and eating stuff like pop tarts and gatorade for breakfast???? And then mountain dew later? He's really overloading his body with sugar. I might also be a little less 'nice' as ann said and point out that I do not want to be caring for an invalid ten years (at the rate he's going). Of course, you can find a more loving and concerned way to point it out, but it still might need to be said. Obviously a lot of couples can face this type of issue, but just as with financial issues, when it comes down to health, my perspective is that a couple should be planning their life together and thinking about their future (even more so if they have children) and what their future is going to be five, ten, twenty years down the line. It can't look very good if a person's health is already deteriorating. Obviously you don't want to 'nag' as that is never helpful, but I do think Tania's suggestion is very important and that it shouldn't be put off just in case it really is diabetes.
Another book that might be of use is the Engine 2 diet. I would echo what others here have said, which is if you're doing the shopping and cooking, that's a very good way to improve his diet. I don't know if you'd be up to packing his lunch for him, but that's another way to get him to eat better at work. My dad is a diabetic, and when we were kids, we basically had no junk food in the house, because he would eat it, so it just wasn't bought. Now that didn't stop him from buying it on his own, but obviously, it was still less available and made him work more for his bad habits. As vegans in the Midwest, my wife and I do a lot of our own cooking, which allows us to control what we eat. The more delicious but healthy cooking you can do, the more likely he'll be to start to come around to the idea that healthy food can also be yummy.
My dad, raised on a farm, was a big believer in the Atkins diet, and after having him read the China Study, he is transitioning towards a vegan diet, so it is possible to get through. We did a lot of vegan cooking for him when he came over to our house to demonstrate vegan food is not rabbit food, and I think that probably helped the transition as well. I understand your qualms about nagging, but I agree with the others about having him get a health checkup, and then just being healthy yourself. If you are active, it'll be harder for him to not be more active himself. And if you're doing the cooking, then you have the controls to nutrition in your house.... You don't have to say anything, just say you want to be healthier yourself, and so this is the cooking you're going to be doing. Good luck!
Hi you guys, thanks for adding extra replies! I don't know what happened but sometime between the holidays and now, I got knocked off the thread. Sorry to read these so much later, and happy new year to everyone.
Yeah my hubbie's favorite foods are really gross, aren't they. I laughed out loud when reading Hazel's response to Pop Tarts and Gatorade as breakfast. Well he moved on to something else this week -- now it's Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Gatorade. I would say that all of these things are from his upbringing (his mom is 70 years old and a few months ago, she called to ask me how to make fresh green beans. For her whole life, she had only had them from a can!) and anything I do to "fix" him will truly be a challenge (but I'm up to it). Last year his father had a triple bypass and my hubbie was scared into wanting to be healthier, but that faded after a couple months. We don't have kids yet, and it will be interesting to see who they take after. I already told my hubbie that when we do start a family, I would prefer that they be vegetarians initially and then when they reach a certain age, they can choose their way.
Well it's a new year and thanks to TKL and all your helpful suggestions, I can set some new goals for us and try to get him in better shape. Like Hazel pointed out, it sucks doing things alone in a relationship and it's time to do things together. I've got all of the suggested books on my library list and from now on will be insisting that he go grocery shopping with me so he can see all his choices (and make better ones on his own). Not sure if I will like this, but I am going to try to get him to cook dinner for both of us once a week, as a start.
Bill, you said you were in the Midwest. Whereabouts? We are in Salina, KS right in the middle. Also did you and your wife transition to veganism together as a couple? I will be celebrating my 4-month vegan anniversary next week, hooray.
Tk, let me know how things work out for you! My boyfriend is the same way, he loves junk food and would happily live off bacon for the rest of his life. I think everyone's suggestions are great and I'm trying to incorporate them into my realtionship slowly. It is frustrating when you're so focused on being healthy and your significant other doesn't even bat an eye! I've tried taking my boyfriend to the grocery store a few times to help me shop for all the yummy veggies and it usually ends up with him in shock that I pay "so much" for organic foods. In reality it's only $1.00 more, but he's all about the cheap stuff. I dont know how price sensitive your husband is, but just be prepared for a counter arguement if he starts to huff and puff about the price of healthy food.
Another thought, even after doing everything you can to persuade him, just remember that everyone is on their own path to healthiness. Unfortunately, it may take some longer than others. Try not to get discouraged and keep us posted!
Tk, we're in Indianapolis, and yes, we went vegan together. My wife went vegetarian first, and I agreed right away to be vegetarian when I was physically with her but wanted to still be able to eat meat when I was out on my own as at that time I didn't think I'd be able to hack it. I then became pescatarian after a few months, and then we were both ovo-lacto for a number of years. The transitions were all pretty easy for us, but even a couple of years ago, we were saying we were convinced vegan wasn't an option for us. Once we decided to switch to a vegan diet, (something I ultimately pushed for), we found it so easy and haven't looked back. We just hit our first year vegan anniversary! Woo-hoo! Good luck, my dad has now been vegan for almost a month, and I have to tell you, if he can go vegan, anyone can!
Mmm, bacon. Just kidding. Emily, your boyfriend and my husband would probably get along well. If they ever met and talked, they would probably start their own forums to complain about their vegan spouses and all the weird things they eat, ha ha.
And Bill, good job. Congrats and making your 1st anniversary together and helping your dad be healthier! That's so encouraging to me and I'm glad to hear about it.
I will check in with you guys in a few months and let you know how all these suggestions have played out. Thanks, everyone.
I do try not to be a nag, but to just buy and cook the things I want him to eat. We agreed about a year or so ago that we would eat vegetarian at home and just once in a while at a restaurant he and the kids can order what they want and I will bite my tounge until it has permanent marks in it. We watched Food Inc. together and that turned him off from meat generally big time. Also he read Omnivore's Dilemma on his own and decided not to eat 'red' meat anymore, including pork.
Last year and again for this week, I signed him up for the PCRM 21 day vegan kickstart. Last year he moaned and groaned and then at the end told me how much better he felt and started incorporating more vegetarian foods into his diet even away from home. This week he is complaining a little but with a smile and a twinkle in his eye so I know it is just for sport! ;o) He won't give up his Bolthouse Farms Mocha Cappucino (he uses a little in his coffee every morning) so far, but that is the only dairy he is consuming right now. He happily uses almond milk in his cereal, loves grilled daiya sandwiches and vegan chilli... So it does get better but only if you don't push!