Guest Post from my Husband: Real Food from a Man’s Perspective

by: Jason Leake

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!

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  1. Jason, thank you for your insights! I have been doing exactly as you suggest – continuously discussing what we’d like to try and why. He’s fairly “on-board” but I do still scare him from time to time (wanted to try using dandelions and making a dandelion pesto. He’s still freaked out about that one.) (chuckle!) I asked him “how far can I go?” Well, the dandelions are still a point of contention, but he and I agreed that we would simply continue as we have started. We simply continue to add more whole foods, and still eat our favorites as we want them. This adding, without subtracting has helped me to ease our whole family of picky eaters along. We buy organic and I’m adding more and more fruits and veggies to every meal, but if we decide to go out and buy donuts, we still do that. To our shock though — we noticed the same thing you did about eating out! We didn’t realize how much we’d changed our eating habits, or that it had truly affected us! We went to Red Robin and came home sick! WHAT??? (not food poisoning, just a terrible feeling, bloated, head-achy, etc) Same thing happened with Mexican food, about a week later. We really didn’t think we were doing that much to change, but noticed that all our tiny changes had added up in a very shocking way! I realized today that I put whole organic carrots in everyone’s lunches and no one even blinked! (They hated the carrots. I’ve got kids who have bordered on a bit of extra weight, and bio mom feeds them junk food like it’s the last food in the world and they’re starving.) Maybe they just throw them out, but at least they don’t fight it anymore! Ha ha! My 2yr old – I started adding salad items to his plate, not really expecting much. One day we didn’t do so and he threw a fit! “WANT SALAD!” “Um, sure, I don’t mind throwing away a few leaves of lettuce etc, no big!” he ate it and demanded more! Ok then! Still need to tackle meatless meals, but that’s on the agenda. Currently working on making all our breads homemade. That’s a big enough task for now. Husband is NOT thrilled about the meatless meals idea, so I’ll have to work on that.

  2. Thanks for this! I just came across this site. This is genuinely helpful! I try to cook healthy “real” meals for my husband and I and what he eats when he’s out on his own is his responsibility and I can’t nag him about it (I was happy to hear that when he eats out he never has fast food though!).

    My husband also has a hard time with spending the extra money on organic food. I gently remind him that in 3 years of marriage we have never been sick except for the occasional cold (usually picked up at my teaching job). We rarely go the doctor or spend money on medical care.

  3. Just came across this site tonight through Pinterest. Have been thinking about cutting out processed foods (healthier and less expensive) and would like to ask a question and share an experience. Question: Hubby is a HUGE meat eater, and we normally eat deer, elk, moose, fish that we have caught ourselves, or pork that has been raised for us and butchered at a local meat cutting place. I know this is a good thing, but do I need to cut back on the times per week that we eat this type of meat or is this okay? I do purchase everything else at a somewhat local, “big box” store. Also, when I lived in NY, I was introduced to seltzer, which I believe people refer to as carbonated water. At one point, I decided to cut out soda (even diet soda) and drank strictly seltzer water or plain old water out of the tap……VOILA!!!! I lost weight! Imagine that!!! Even when I would only drink diet soda and once in a while seltzer, I would not loose the weight or the opposite, I would gain weight. HMMMMMM, What’s up with that??? LOL!!! So for me, diet soda did not help in my weight loss. Soda is not good for you….PERIOD!!!

  4. An exciting day at my house today…my husband had his revelation at the dinner table, saying that he thinks we should stick with ‘real food’!!!! This is after several weeks of me introducing more and more real food into our diet. I want to thank you for your incredible website, as it has given me so much information, ideas, inspiration, and hope to never give up! Thank you!

  5. I just found this today… thanks so much for the husband’s perspective! We have been gradually transitioning to real foods, and while we have cut out so many processed and chemically altered foods, there are a few things that have been difficult to change because of the resistance from my house full of husband and teenage boys. It’s always nice to hear a different approach to try.

  6. I have tried it all. Nagging, sneaking “healthy” food into some of my Hubby’s favorites. I have hidden his snacks from him and rationed him..All epic failures. When I met hubby 6 years ago his only source of daily veggies was the lettuce and tomato on his double cheeseburger (daily!) and he honestly thought apple pie was healthy because it had apples in it! I have spent the better part of 6 months reading him articles about the danger in processed foods..and just generally giving him information without cramming it down him. I will admit the “pink slime” realization hit him hard and he was much more apt to know more about healthy eating. We switched to mostly organic and cut out all processed foods and sugar about 2-3 weeks ago and on Easter we invited one of his friends to Easter Dinner. I could not believe what I heard. He was explaining to his friend why we were not eating processed foods anymore and just how much better he was feeling without all the junk. He even mentioned food dyes! He does listen! and I couldn’t have been more proud of him! Keep working on it ladies…there is hope! BTW my Hubby is 60 years old and WAS set in his ways!

  7. It’s interesting to read about real food from a man’s perspective. Thanks for sharing your insights Jason. BTW link to “Take the 10 day pledge” doesn’t work (the right link is in the menu above the post). It motivated me to try this challenge. I already eat quite healthy, but it’s always a good idea to improve your eating habits even more. I’m curious about the change in palate!

  8. My husband is on board for the most part and the majority of what we eat is real already. However, he is not a very large man (5’8″ and 145lbs) he is worried that the switch will cause him to lose weight. He has a hard time staying above 140lbs and the idea of losing any weight really freaks hom out. Any thoughts/suggestions?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for your question. I am not too far off in size from your husband at 5′ 8″, 155 lbs. I did lose about 5 lbs when we made the switch to real food, but I personally find my weight correlates more strongly with how much I exercise than how much or what I am eating. That being said we’ve heard from many of our readers that were overweight and/or who ate a highly processed diet and did lose a fair amount of weight when switching to real food. Given that your husband already eats a lot of real food and is not overweight, I don’t think he should be concerned. If he starts to drop weight he could always eat more or increase the ratio of energy dense foods like granola. Many people find they have to do this when training for races and their body and metabolism start changing. Everyone’s body is different but I’m sure he can find his groove while eating real food!

      Best Regards,

      Jason Leake

  9. Thank you for a man’s perspective. It has been a little difficult getting my husband on board, but I realize change must come from within and I need to allow him to decide on his own if this is what he wants to do. I have started making healthier meals for the family, more real food (ALOT) less processed food. I think he will eventually come around once he sees that it is not that difficult.

  10. It was “Food Inc” and “In Defense of Food” that totally changed my thinking! I cut out processed foods (well, most of them) a year or so ago, and actually lost weight and feel better. Of course, I love to cook, so it’s easier, but I also work full time. I try to make things on the weekends that I can take to lunch during the week – soup, pot roast, roast chicken, etc. Thanks for this and other posts on this website

  11. Thanks for this post. My husband agrees with the ‘real food’ plan on paper, but often resists new foods and recipes I introduce. It’s been a game of small changes and trials, but overall our eating is getting healthier. Now if I could just get him to give up the breakfast cereal.

  12. Please allow my 2cent opinion for the “Husband” side of the scoreboard. =) One of my wife’s girlfriends recently loaned her a copy of “Eat Right For Your Type” by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo. I picked it up one day and started reading it and became fascinated to find out how our bodies react to different foods and food ingredients.I think I am the one that decided that we needed to make some changes.We have started out gradual by focusing on the “beneficial, neutral and avoid” foods.Realizing quickly that some of the things we were eating were actually working against us. Quite skeptical at first,I actually began to feel better physically. The trips to the market have become like a treasure hunt for both of us as we look for new foods to try that are better and more nutritious. 100 Days of Real Food is also part of our plan. Keep up the good work!

  13. Maggie Sanders

    I loved hearing from Jason! You see he is my son…I know about all of the behind the scenes work and how committed they both are to this way of life…the movement is growing and as it does restaurants and stores are going to improve what they offer! I really find that I crave veggies now and I love,love,love my healthy smoothie for breakfast. After about 3 weeks the craving for sugar,etc. really goes away so hang in there as it is worth it!

  14. When my baby was diagnosed with multiple food allergies we had to change the way we ate. I had already been thinking of making a change (after eating at least somewhat better during pregancy). Reading food lables for allergens really opened my eyes to all the random 50 letter additives in processed food. Now my Ds eats all organic and DH and I do our best to do so. I have had to learn to actually cook, and as I get better at that everything is becoming much easier

  15. We have recently started following the “real food” diet. My husband was very skeptical and almost angry about cutting way down on the red meat. But since I am the one who does all the grocery shopping and the majority of the cooking, he didn’t really have much choice lol. A couple of days ago I came home from working late and he was on the couch moaning and groaning about his stomach hurting. Turns out he went to a local fast food restaurant and had a spicy chicken sandwich. Needless to say, he is not giving me as much grief about the healthy food. Sometimes they just need some proof.

  16. We use carbonated water and add unsweetened Pure Black Cherry Juice or not from concentrate Pineapple juice and Talking Rain Sparkling Spring Water is flavored with oils such as Berry;Lemon Lime ect…also adding Mint and a slice of lemon lime;orange ie citrus is cool. Also enjoy we use to drink via plastic straws now we like a big fat glass straw that works well with smoothies to…..the Labs tail got it and it shattered when we were serving it to a guest. So gotta re order. Me/Momma Jo also had a diet black cherry and diet 7up habit. Pretty much gave it up ‘cept the diet 7up for days when tummy feels ick. Same with sodium laced thing yuk; Store bought Verde sauce vs. easy to make from tomatillia / green pepper home made verde is Day vs. night.

  17. As a husband, I just want to pop on and say I agree.

    I was already doing the green smoothie thing and leaning in this direction so it wasn’t as hard to get me to get on board as it would be for some.

    One thing I want to highlight. “REAL FOOD” tastes better. WAY better. This is really about saying “I wont the best ingredients, I want only the best” and it can be done at a reasonable price. I highlight that aspect of eating real food when asked about it.

  18. Love the post! I am very lucky to have a Husband that wanted this change in our lives a long time ago… and I am the one FINALLY getting on board. My Husband is in sales as well and spends so much of his time in the car. Now that we are getting the hang of eating nearly 100% real food at home I feel like I should start making him more real food for his lunch instead of eating out. Your perspective was very helpful. I would love to hear more from you in the future.

  19. My biggest obstacle in converting my husband to real food is cutting out pop. He LOVES him some pop :) Does anyone have suggestions that would be more exciting than drinking water all the time, but that would still provide some of the bubby satisfaction of cola?

    1. Isn’t there some carbonated flavored water?? I bought some for my mother-in-law that seemed to have nothing in it?!?! However, this was years ago when I wasn’t looking for ‘real’ foods!! I’ll be interested in hearing what you find….I, too, like soda, but haven’t missed it yet!!

    2. Tracy – I used to drink Coke Zeros when I was on the road (which was a lot), but haven’t had a soda in the past two years. You can do caronated water with a splash of juice or squeeze of lime, or tea. Of course they are not similar tasting substitutes, but they work for me. Also the palate change has really increased my sensitivity to sweet flavors, so I don’t miss the Cokes at all.

    3. It’s not soda but I brew a lot of the Tazo decaf teas at home and make them “iced”—my spouse used to only drink juice and now has switched to a lot of unsweetened iced tea–the passion kind is great.

    4. Thanks so much for the ideas everybody! I am intrigued by the water kefir, but a little intimidated at the same time. It’s something that I would definitely like to try though.

    5. There is a brand of sparkling waters called La Croix that is available in several flavors and plain. It has no sweeteners, no sodium, no caffine, no calories, and no preservatives. They are available at most major supermarkets and most Wal-marts in the water aisle (not with the sodas). I think they taste alot better than club soda or seltzer and I find I don’t need to add fruit juice to them. I drink these to give me the bubbles when I don’t feel like drinking plain water.

      1. You could also consider buying a SodaStream personal soda fountain, and instead of using their syrups, you can make soda water from plain tap water and adding a squeeze of lemon or lime. They also have some concentrates like tamarind at many ethnic groceries that you can add to flavor soda water. Or what about a little of Lisa’s berry sauce with a splash of half-n-half for a homemade Italian Creme Soda? There are so many ways to replace soda, but I agree it is a hard habit to break, even when eating real food in every other aspect.

    6. I know it’s not the greatest idea but I detoxes my husband off of cherry coke three years ago by starting with flavor packets like crystal light…. I know the horrors of it but if I did find him an alternative he would have gone back… Now he drunk water primarily with some juice… Much better the the 8 sodas a day

  20. I’m doing the pledge for 40 days (lent) and I’m also in sales with a 5-state territory. The first thing some people asked is “How will you do that traveling?!” It’s certainly not easy, but definitely possible. I too have found myself passing on dinner out and buying up nuts, cheese, etc to scrounge together a meal. The airport is the toughest though!

  21. Thanks so much for your input, we eat read food at home but my husband, like you, travels and therefore eats out more. He does not do well eating out, he finds that he does fall into old habits at restaraunts. We are fairly new at this though so I think it is just hard for him to come up with something from the menu that falls into real food parameters. Thanks so much for your recomendations.

  22. Thanks so much for the input. My husband is (very slowly) taking on to the idea of a complete real food diet. He’s very skeptical and does still love/enjoy lots of foods I would never consider eating, since they’re not real food! But it’s a process and you can’t force anyone to change. The more I change my habits without pushing him, the better he seems to acclimate and is more willing to try new things.

  23. BTW our very close and dear family friend is a Leake too. So that makes your last name only the 2nd time we have heard of a Leake or as we say Leake Likey Love It.

  24. My husband and I watched Food, Inc. together. He had been on board with the changes up to that point, but wasn’t really motivated like I was. But while watching the movie he says, “Ummm…I think we need to buy a farm.” I smile every time I think about it!

  25. My Mom made the change to real food last May. I do continue to prod her to go full vegan. I rely on her to stay healthy as she is my careprovider (32 yrs now I am a quadroplegic). She has turned her health around so much so that her physician is very pleased. I am proud of her for taking care of her health and we have allot of fun with the nutrition thing as one of our hobbies. She has raised the bar higher with going on week long health detoxing by drinking Green Smoothies, juicing veggies and enjoying raw foods. She still cooks once or twice a week unprocessed. I am fed via a g tube and that stuff in a can is the worst when it comes to phony food. I do supplement with fresh vegan juice and vegan Omega oil, walnut oil too. It all started when we started and now we follow many blogs on whole food nutrition.

  26. Luckily, my family likes food in general – our children are young and they don’t quite care WHAT they eat as much as they care about the TASTE of what they eat! My husband just wants FOOD to eat (I don’t want that to sound negative, because I, too, am thankful to have food on our table!!) I must say preparing whole foods for my husband is the hardest because he is also in sales and is in his car 90% of the day – I’m home with our daughters (we homeschool) so that makes our food easier to prepare.
    THANK YOU, Jason, for your tips and how to ‘eat on the run’…you’ve made our eating habits that much easier!! :)

    1. Some simple things you can send with him are sandwiches, finger foods, cut up fruits etc, crackers with hummus or cheese, homemade popcorn, granola, nuts, etc. My husband isn’t in sales but is in a car 80% of his day too and I pack him one meal to heat and eat and the rest finger stuff. Sandwiches that are healthy, cooking a chicken and shredding it, chicken salad, etc with triscuits…

      1. Thank you, Danyelle!! I definitely need these tips!! I made the crock pot chicken from this site the other night and made chicken salad from the leftovers!! My husband loved it!! (I also did the crock pot chicken stock…super easy!!). We just need a variety in what to pack for eating on the go…sandwiches can get pretty boring! Your ideas will be great!! :)

  27. I really enjoyed reading a post from another perspective. I like your suggestions on how to convince your spouse to accept real food. My question is, do you really have to use your energy to convince them? Would they even notice if you slowly introduced more real food into your diet week by week?

    Also, I agree that watching Food Inc. together is an excellent start or motivator towards eating more real food.

    Finally, I think you should have guest posts more often to showcase how various lifestyles can be adapted to include real-food. For example, I am a graduate student and changing my diet was quite challenging.

  28. Thanks for sharing. My husband has been very supportive of our real food journey and this blog has really helped us get new ideas. I love all of the recipes I have tried so far- they are easy to make and I am a busy mom of 3 kids under 5. My husband feels better and is making good choices even when he is surrounded by the other kind of food. He was remodeling a McDonald’s and could eat for half price but still packed his lunch every day and didn’t eat there. I would deffinately suggest to anyone who has a un-willing spouse to watch Food, Inc. It really educates people and for my husband, helped make the change eaiser.

  29. I’m actually having no problem with my husband. He says I do the cooking and shopping, so I choose what we eat. Plus, when I started explaining things and made him watch something about the pink slime from leftover cow bits and the cow stomach from King Corn, it wasn’t that difficult it was better for us. Thank goodness he’s pretty easy going and trusts my research.

  30. Thank you for your insight. I didn’t think about my husband being resistant simply because he needed to make the decision on his own. Both of us understand the importance of being around for the family as my 41 year old father died of MI two months before we got married (13 years ago). That has always been a source of fear for me, and, realizing my husband turns 41 this year, made the fear so apparent that I changed EVERYTHING without consulting him or asking for his thoughts. I appreciate your view and I will certainly have a sit down with the hubs and sincerely listen to his views and opinions! Thank you!

  31. Great information! I had to just make foods for dinner and go from there with my husband. I grew up eating real foods so it wasn’t a stretch to cook but some things he would turn his nose up at and I would just reintroduce. I started packing his lunch (18 hours days are a LOT of food) and he found that eating homemade foods he felt a lot better than eating out. It is a struggle to come up with things are that are hearty and reheat well but we do and it works. Thank you for your perspective!

  32. This was actually quite helpful. I have been trying to make some changes in the food that my husband and I eat, but my husband has been a little reluctant about it. I have wondered why he wouldn’t want to make such healthy changes, but now that I have a man’s perspective, it’s helpful to understand what he may be thinking (and not sharing). Thank you!