Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.-Katharine Hepburn
My friend, let’s call her Betty, clicked on an email one day raving about eating more produce. It said kids would, in fact, eat it and they were healthier that way. Betty, being the bright bulb she is, started researching. She read Eat to Live, learned to tell the difference between science and pseudoscience, got a cookbook about about plant powered families and started putting more veggies in the kids’ lunches. One day, Betty sat down to watch Forks Over Knives with her hubby, Bob (real identity concealed). He wanted to watch golf but gave in because he loves her.
Bob thought it sounded like an interesting idea, this “getting healthier” and he knew they had both gained weight since the kids had come along. So he told her to go for it.
And she did.
Pretty much alone.
Bob didn’t really want to cut back on meat. Bob didn’t really want to skip eating fast food or skip doughnuts at work. Bob didn’t want to read labels, or avoid them.
Bob wanted to continue what he had been doing.
Betty was frustrated.
Bob even made jokes about her attempts at healthy eating.
Bob is a fool.
Don’t be like Bob.
Betty stuck with it, told Bob to suck it up, and is a thinner, healthier, more energetic woman now.
Be like Betty.
But, the truth is, the first year was a constant battle for her. Bob brings junk into the house all the time. The kids are getting mixed messages. Bob is often rude, thinking he is being funny….
Do you know them?
Maybe you’re Betty and your Bob still smokes. Maybe your Bob flat out rejects your cooking and gets himself other food (I’m not kidding that I know a guy who comes home with fast food when his wife cooks because he won’t eat any dish his mother didn’t make). Maybe you stand in the store and stare at a list where Bob has written “Coke” and “Velveeta” and wonder if you can get him his drugs without anyone seeing them in your cart., After all, you take organic veggies to the school, how can you be seen with his junk? Most of the Bobs out there feed the kids stuff that mom would never allow. I’ve seen a dad hand a toddler Mountain Dew, which is pretty much child abuse. Maybe you feel sabotaged at every turn. Or maybe you have just given up, either on him or on your health.
I should say “to all the people whose partners don’t want to eat healthier,” and I am (this can be an issue in any coupling), but, in my experience, it is 97% women who initiate the improvement in lifestyle and 97% men who resist. And many don’t just resist. They whine, complain, vocally protest, mock the desire, make cracks about the food, use the world’s most idiotic justification to continue down the road of foolishness and generally make life tough for the woman trying to be responsible for her family’s health.
Underneath, it likely has something to do with the fact that women are harder on themselves about their looks, more judged by others on their appearance and, in general, more open to change. That is just my observation. Whatever the reason:
Hang in there.
Do not give up.
Listen, you don’t have to agree about food. If he insists you do, then it is on him.
We live longer, on average. I think it is because we don’t sit around abusing ourselves and patting our bellies with pride.
At least, that is part of it.
I hear from women all the time who say they want to change their lives and get healthy but their spouse won’t go for it.
“I’m a meat and potatoes guy,” is code for food idiot.
Find other women on this path and move forward, with or without Bob. You can’t wait around for him to “feel like” making better decisions. Don’t use him as an excuse. You are still in charge of your health and, if you have children, their’s. Be honest with them about his eating habits. You can’t equivocate the two attitudes about health and think you are equipping them to make wise decisions. If he is going to undermine you, don’t pretend it is okay. “Daddy eats junk that will make him sick.” There you go.
I’m a Betty. My Mister has a MUCH harder time with change than I do. I shall call him Bob-ish. He has changed a lot about how he eats but he has a terrible time breaking habits (smoker, non-smoker, smoker). He is supportive of my efforts at home (thank you LORD!) but he still eats junk away from home, brings Coke into our house “for the weekend” (that lucky liver of his can read a calendar) and feels culturally accepted foods are some sort of right. He is always growing and getting better (HALLELUJAH) but, ladies, I UNDERSTAND.
But we can’t let it derail us or the next generation.
I’ve got your back. Find women in your area who support you. You are doing the right thing.
Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to help Betty bury…er...do something.
Ideas for Finding Other Bettys
If you think about it, you know someone you consider a “health nut”. Ask them questions about how you can find people who are passionate about real food or plant based diets in your community. Ask them if they have advice for you as you head down the path to health.
Call the YMCA or other area fitness center and ask if they have nutrition classes or cooking classes and then meet people there.
Go online and search your area for workshops, vegetarian events, farm markets, food buying co-ops or farm to fork restaurants.
Once you locate some people, put yourself out there. You have to reach out. Don’t wait for people to fall into your lap. (Wouldn’t that be weird?)
See if your church or community group would be willing to host classes or workshops about health and then organize them.
The chances are, you already have friends or colleagues who are in the same boat. Talk about it and you’ll find each other.
Start a Facebook group. Put an ad out. Start a food related book club.
Chew on This
This piece from the NY Post is, well, shocking. I have the book in my queue right now and cannot wait to read it. Just start with the column about it and you’ll know what I mean.
Maybe forward it to your husband.
Happy eating, Katy