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 than 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:
77 thoughts on “Guest Post from my Husband: Real Food from a Man’s Perspective”
…how do I convince my wife?
The same way! Here’s a great post on convincing a reluctant spouse. – Nicole
Hi Jason, I started cooking from scratch 3 years ago trying to cut out as much processed foods as possible. My husband has always been easy going as far as meals are concerned so when I did whole30 almost 2 years ago he would eat the same as me when at home. Our diet has been something that has evolved over time. I’m completely Paleo at the moment & he is most of the time. He doesn’t go out of his way to eat junk & will choose something healthy over a pre-packed snack. I do a lot of cooking for him & freeze things so he can take them to work. I think it takes time & neither of us are perfect but we would like this way of eating to become our way of life & with some planning we are getting there.
Our stories are very similar. I just finished a 21-day cleanse (through Simple Green Smoothies) and he wasn’t really on board but ate most of the same things I did. He complains about the time I spend cooking more that the cost, though. And having to help me clean the kitchen.
Yep travel is definitely difficult even if you’re not male.
If you’re on a business trip with lots of people, not always a good idea to go out on your own. Sometimes, just have to go with the flow as you say.
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Hello. :) Beer and wine are fine in moderation. ~Amy
What about beer or wine?
Honestly, I this is great advice, I find that my man will eat what I cook for him, so if I make a point to MAKE the food for him, his palate may change on its own with as little pressure as possible…if I go the convincing route I may have to read your “3 steps to getting your baby or toddler to eat Real food.” LOL
My husband travels a lot for work. We did the 10 day pledge during a rare week and a half at home for him. We want to keep up the ‘real food’ lifestyle at home and my husband is really motivated to stick with it while traveling. Do you have a cheat sheet of chain restaurants /menu choices that you could post?
Hi there. Congratulations on your resolve! These posts will help: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/07/12/how-to-eat-whole-foods-at-restaurants/and https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/real-food-resources/. Best of luck! ~Amy
Thank you so much for your comments to the above questions
Who are these crazy people who think meat isn’t real food?
I’m 100% on board about as close to natural, unprocessed, non-chemical, non-GMO. But who decided meat wasn’t good for you?
Hi there Stevie P. I’m a bit confused. Who are you addressing this question to? Was it for Jason? ~Amy
I’m fortunate enough to be with somebody who is willing to read and learn about eating healthy even if he doesn’t actually do it. I’ve been trying to eat more real food and slowly change our way of eating. He has been difficult, not impossible, but difficult to work with. I let him read Jason’s blog post and though we haven’t discussed it, I know that he was thinking about it later. I plan to bring it up today. I know that this is going to be a long and increasingly successful process.
I travel a lot as well. Eating real food on the road has proven to be a challenge. Your tips will probe most useful.
Thanks for sharing your story and your thoughts Jason.
I am all for eating Real Food but my husband is NOT onboard even 50% I feel like. When I first talked to him about he said “NO” and when I asked him why a few days later after he cooled down he said all he could hear was “no McDonalds or Wendys for 100 days” and he was not willing to do that. After talking a little more he was like why one earth do we need to keep changing things, I see no reason to change the way we are eating, you are just creating more work for yourself and you don’t need to, etc. He also grew up with a very limited diet and though he has expanded what he eats much since we met 6 years ago he still isn’t very willing to try things more than once and seems to always not like anything new. I keep talking to him but it is very discouraging when I have to keep buying separate foods for him that are highly processed when I am not buying them for us and our 2 year old just doesn’t understand why she can’t have what daddy has. He diet when we met consisted only of the following items… McDonald’s, Wendy’s, ribey steak, fries, popcorn shrimp and chocolate poptarts. Now he will eat other stuff but not nearly a wide enough variety to eat real foods all the time I feel. The only other breakfast food he will eat besides poptarts are biscuits and he always complains about there not being any food in the house (his processed go to’s) so he goes out (which cuts into our food budget) affecting what I can buy for the family.
Any suggestions other than getting him to read books (which he will NOT do)???
Thanks for this. My husband has been the single biggest obstacle in this. He grew up eating Campbell’s soup casseroles and canned sloppy joes. I grew up eating real food and fresh caught fish for the most part. He comes home with Kroger brand vanilla wafers for our children, gives them gummy bears, Hershey’s strawberry syrup. It’s horrifying. Luckily, I am at least 80% responsible for their meals. He thinks this whole thing is just my latest “project” and it will fade into sunset at some point. According to him, as long as it’s in the grocery store, it’s just fine. :(
I started cutting out HFCS almost a year ago; just making that one little switch made a BIG deal; I lost about 20 pounds in 8 months, getting down to the size I was when my husband and I started dating (about 13 years ago…) So when he started to complain about our food budget, I pointed out to him the OBVIOUS benefits ;) I don’t hear much about it now; it IS possible to do it on a budget! We are a family of five, and some weeks my grocery bill is $150 and some weeks it is $65. That includes household items as well. Stocking up on meat once or twice a month helps too, as does making freezer meals. Since I don’t buy processed junk or seasonings in the grocery store I can also justify my monthly Wildtree order (Wildtree is all natural organic, non gmo, no preservative, artficial colors or flavors pantry products from spice blends to skillet meals to dressings, GF bread, etc and so on) and using Wildtree I can still make the meals my family likes but know I am not poisoning them with it! Recently started eating the plain yogurt sweetened w/ honey and I sprinkle cinnamin on it-yum! Think I will venture into smoothies this week!
Eat right or DIE !!!! Men of healthy eating, do you hear the call of the battle cry? Marching forward. This is a food war! Victory is ours. Drink lots of beer! Peace
My biggest problem with making my husband agreeing with this life changing habit will be financial. Since I married him 7 years ago I’ve been trying to introduce brazilian eating habits into our lives and I could never get him to eat it. And at the supermarket I’ll always hear him say “we can’t afford real food” while grabbing boxes and boxes of mac n’ cheese and top ramen :(
Now I wonder can we make it on a tight budget?
Here are some real food on a budget tips: https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/09/30/real-food-tips-12-ways-to-keep-it-cheap/
Also it’s important to remember…spend more on food now and less on healthcare costs later (it’s true!)