Hello good people! After almost two years of editing every single post that has appeared on this blog, Lisa asked me to share my perspective on real food with you. My name is Jason, and I am Lisa’s husband. I was exposed to real food early on – my parents were hippies in Oregon after all – but honestly by the time I got to high school I was eating a pretty typical American diet and had certainly fallen prey to the ‘conventional wisdom’ on healthy food. Point being that two years ago, before we started our real food education and subsequent journey, I was probably not much different from you and your family. Lisa shared some great feedback from the facebook page on what you actually wanted to hear from me, so here are some answers to the most common questions.
1) How do I change my husband’s eating habits without constantly nagging and lecturing him?
This question assumes you have made the decision to eat real food, but are having difficulty getting your spouse and/or family on board. For the ladies out there I’ll try to fill you in from my perspective as a man. Personally I am very open minded but also extremely skeptical. I think for myself. I’m not going to do anything just because someone tells me to. And keep in mind for anyone to decide to make a change, the perceived benefit must outweigh the difficulty associated with change. So don’t expect instant, blind devotion, but rather focus on steps you can take in the right direction together. Here is how I recommend you introduce real food to your household.
- Approach your husband about why you want to explore making changes to your family’s diet. As the ‘man of the house’ I feel the instinctive responsibility to provide for and protect my family, and this means sticking around for as long as possible. There are many health benefits of cutting out processed food so you can certainly tap into that sentiment to get an agreement to do some joint research, which is the next step.
- Watch “Food, Inc.” together. Then have your husband read/listen to “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. This can be done during the daily commute if you get a CD or mp3 version.
- Take the 10 day pledge together with the understanding that this is to gain perspective and that this is only for 10 days. If you get pushback, ask what could it possibly hurt? Later you will choose (together) what long term changes you want to make and when. Obviously you want to make the pledge go as smoothly as possible, so be sure to plan accordingly. I highly recommend using one of Lisa’s free meal plans and that you replace any junk food in your house with convenient real food.
- After the pledge, talk about some changes you can both agree to make. Changes can be gradual…it’s not all or nothing. Gain the ground you can without pushing. Be patient.
- Over time the palate changes and the concept of real food becomes more familiar to everyone. Your spouse/family should (hopefully) start to get it. The change in palate can take as little as one month. As a result of our change in diet, I now have waaaaay less desire to eat meat, salt, and sugar. I actually enjoy the taste of each ingredient, as it is. It really is a simple pleasure that is so accessible to us all.
- Keep in mind most men don’t like the thought of “wasting” money. You may get initial backlash about the costs associated with eating local and organic food. I hate to say it, but you can pay now or pay later with increased health care costs. I’d rather increase my odds at avoiding all that future cost, not to mention the heartache, pain, suffering, and inconvenience that come along with it. You can share our “100 Days of Real Food on a Budget” experience to show that it can be done and to get some tips on how to keep costs down.
2) How do you handle eating ‘real food’ around other men? Do they make fun of you?
I’m not too hung up on what other people think about me, so this is really not an issue for me. That being said, I certainly don’t draw attention to my eating habits or preach to others. Some people joke around when my eating preferences come up, but never in a spiteful way. A more common reaction is for people to simply misunderstand what my “needs” are and to make unhelpful suggestions. In a social situation if the topic comes up I briefly explain that we try not to eat processed food or processed ingredients. We eat real food, which is quite different than the mainstream opinion of “healthy food”. I pretty much leave it at that. So I try to make the best choices possible without offending anyone (if I’m at someone’s house, for example, I eat what is offered), and remember that most things in moderation are fine.
3) Do you feel like you get to eat enough food? Do you miss anything?
I have to laugh out loud every time someone asks this question. NO, I never go hungry. Quite the contrary…I eat less then I used to and don’t experience the typical high and low energy swings. No, I don’t miss anything. I will share that since my palate has changed I no longer find pleasure in eating at most chain restaurants. So while you would think I would miss a buffalo chicken sandwich from Chili’s, I’m actually just displeased that my selection of desirable places to eat has shrunk.
4) How can you eat real food while traveling? How about eating out at work?
I’m not going to lie…this is a tough one. I am in sales and had a five state territory when we were doing our original 100 days of real food pledge. There were no exceptions to breaking our real food “rules” during that time period. Nada. I’d bring food with me like fruit, trail mix, and homemade granola, but obviously I had to eat out as well. Since I was usually short on time to research dinner wherever I happened to be on a given day, I created a mental list of common chain restaurants that had at least one or two acceptable options. For example, at Carrabba’s you can get grilled salmon, whole wheat pasta, and vegetables. Or I’d phone sushi restaurants and find those serving brown rice. Occasionally I would go to a grocery store and buy a bunch of fruit, nuts, olives, whole wheat crackers, and cheese and simply eat that for my meal. But in the real world, as in when you are not on a strict “real food” pledge, you simply make the best choices you can. As far as eating out at work goes, well, I bring my lunch a lot. Cooking large batches of food (like soup) and freezing individual servings makes it easy to grab and go. I research local restaurants and when eating with others I am quick to suggest the choices that fit my needs. If my suggestions aren’t agreeable to the group then I roll with it and just order the best thing I can.
In the end you have to convey to your spouse that eating real food is something you care about deeply. Get buy-in to at least try it out with an open mind. After all, real food is not a fad, but rather truth and simplicity. While I don’t plan on being a frequent contributor to the blog, I certainly welcome any feedback or other questions you may have. And props to you for thinking for yourself!
Some Helpful Resources:
- Convincing a reluctant spouse (to eat real food)!
- How to eat whole foods at chain restaurants
- Tips for Trips: Real food while traveling