Convincing a Reluctant Spouse (to eat real food)!

You may be on board with cutting out processed food, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your family fully supports the idea. This can certainly lead to some challenges, but for those who truly care about the health of their family members it is hard to simply look the other way.

We initially cut out highly processed food and refined ingredients because we thought it was the right thing to do, but the unexpected improvements to our health that followed were almost a little scary. I had no clue that giving up white flour, sugar, and other processed junk would cause my daughter’s asthma and constipation to disappear as well as result in a 50% increase in my HDL (a.k.a. “good”) cholesterol! And here I already thought we were a fairly “healthy” family, which has a lot to do with why I spend my time trying to convince others (including your family members) to make the switch to real food.

convincing a reluctant spouse

I used to be absolutely clueless about the food we were eating and then one day I read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and watched Food, Inc. That was enough to give me a huge wake up call and while these resources are a great start for anyone who needs some convincing, it might take more than that to convert the most close-minded of spouses. My husband happens to be on board already (or I could never do all of this!) so I reached out to my wonderful 100 Days of Real Food facebook community for their advice and following are the results. If you have any additional suggestions please leave them in the comments below.

How to convince a reluctant spouse or other family member to make the switch to real food:

  • Rent the documentary Food, Inc.
  • Get a hard copy or audio version of In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
  • Make some real food meals to show how good and filling they are (check out the Recipes and Resources page for meal ideas)
  • Don’t tell your family member up front you are making changes…just stop buying and serving the processed and refined junk
  • Start by making familiar recipes with better ingredients…like local steak with organic baked potatoes
  • Buy different (and better organic brands) of familiar products like peanut butter, pasta, and dairy products
  • Take baby steps by slowly adding healthier options like veggies to your weekly menu
  • Share facts and tidbits on why one should cut out processed food (here are 10 reasons to get you started)
  • Agree to work together to set a good example for your children
  • Serve fresh, in-season and well-prepared produce to those that don’t think they like veggies (the taste is quite different from what comes out of a can!)
  • Sneak veggies into meals and tell them about it afterward
  • Track and share spending at fast food joints and other restaurant vs. eating at home and packing lunches
  • Tell them to eat what you are serving or they are on their own!
  • If they don’t like something don’t keep making it…move on to other real food options
  • Enforce the same “3 bite rule” that your children have to follow
  • Make changes for yourself (and your children if you have them) and hope your reluctant spouse will eventually follow suit on their own
  • Moderation is key…don’t harp on the occasional junk food!
  • As with any unwilling or picky family member (young or old) remember to practice patience and persistence

If your reluctant family member is a picky eater some of the tactics listed in this post may work as well: Winning over your picky eater

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82 thoughts on “Convincing a Reluctant Spouse (to eat real food)!”

  1. My husband has allowed me to make numerous changes, well before I ever found this site. Yet he sabotages himself with runs at the drive through, or picking up extras at the grocery store that are not on the list… all things he misses from his childhood… all highly processed junk. Meanwhile he complains of a multitude of health problems… brain fog, GI tract, lack of energy, the seeming inability to loose any weight… I am thinking I might try some of your freezer meals for his lunches, and look for healthier remakes of foods I know he likes. It would mean getting organized, but it might be a good next step… the only reasons he will go to a drive through is 1) too lazy to pack his own meal (self confessed) and 2) even if he or I packs him a lunch, he is not in habit to remember to take it to the office. I think I could help with both of these things… maybe it will help him feel better at the office (though puh-leeze lay off the diet cokes already!!!!) Sigh. We have a ways to go… but perhaps if we can get the packed lunch thing down and he likes it, he’d be willing to watch some of the documentaries with me again and reconsider the grocery sneaks and the sodas… at least start limiting those things and find healthier habits to enjoy… baby steps, right?? I’d really like our children to see us be on the same page and I’d love to see him have more
    energy in his days. Thank you for the recipe posts and the ideas. I already have been saving recipes from your sight to remake some Thanksgiving faves that he has given me permission to experiment now that we finally get to cook the meal at our house…. no more boxed stuffing or store bought desserts… (though hubby will probably still sneak a can of cranberry… he just can’t get used to the real sauce yet… which leaves me dumbfounded… its so much better! But then… I have been at this for several years… this reteaching the body/mind about what is real and what is good! And the body gets it! I no longer crave a soda or most sugary snacks. And when I think I do and cave… I am 90% of the time disappointed. So cool! Perhaps he will one day get there too.

  2. Love this post. My fiancé wants to eat better and lose weight but would rather take a vitamin than eat real food. I’m challenging him to complete a daily green smoothie every AMfor a week ( I will do it too) and then see how he feels. I’m hoping this will convince him to keep the real food consumption going.

    1. I started by going to the farmers market- I started with just 2 meals a week, and slowly changed stuff over- instead of dropping white flour all at once decrease the amount you use add wheat flour- instead family used to frozen pizza for dinner ? Cool – add extra vegetables (frozen diced spinach broccoli, fresh onions added cheese ) then next then move to prep ahead put it out bring in family do it together you got them used to the junk you can change it folks when our great grandparents were alive it was just called food – Told my husband the length of time it takes to boil 2 eggs I can make breakfast for 3 eggs toast bacon fresh fruit and you won’t be in the fridge in 2hrs looking for something else – he was also getting salads at a fast food joint cost him $7 I said WHY??? pulled out the stuff on the counter I already have all of that !!!!!! Because I’m using it for more than one meal I’m saving money – I’m also going back to the iron cookware and copper bottom pots I use a crockpot home made bread is easy put the dough together and cover it let it rise when you go out to grocery shop get home throw it in a pan and bake while you put up groceries – When you learn how easy it really is you will wonder why you allowed yourself to be lied to lol

  3. I have tried to make the switch to “real food” in the past and failed after a couple of weeks. This year my husband told me that his new years resolution was to make a weekly meal plan for dinner. I smiled at him and thought to myself (here’s our chance to try again). This conversation had happened before I received my 100 Days of Real Food cookbook for Christmas! Guess what happened? My husband read the cookbook before I even had a chance to open it. He was very surprised that it wasn’t just a cookbook, it actually had a story behind it that can help educate our family and set us up for success!
    I have not yet started making recipes that would leave enough leftovers to freeze, for two reasons. #1. What if we don’t like it? #2. I really need an extra fridge/freezer to have enough space for extra items. So we shop for a couple of days and make them as we go. Which means lots of dishes and time in the kitchen right now. I really don’t mind it at all! I love watching them eat these new meals and getting their feedback. Most of which has been really good and a big thumbs up to make it again! So the other day my husband asked me if I needed anything from the store? I sort of cringed(sorry babe) but I like to be the one to do the shopping. Unless it is for a few specific things he is used to buying that fit our goals. So basically I told him no, we don’t need anything but what I had already put on the list. His response to me was “don’t the kids need snacks “? I wasn’t sure what he ment. We had fruit, home made granola, nuts. What snacks do they need? He was talking about frozen foods, quick pop in the microwave, processed crap. Not the snacks we eat anymore. I giggled and told him no, we don’t buy that anymore. He proceeded to say, “What if something happens? We have nothing to eat!” I completely understand his concern about having enough food frozen, canned, ect. For the just incase scenarios. I reassured him that we would have that again as soon as I know we all like the food we are preparing. The best part was when I figured out what snacks HE really wanted ( frozen bean & cheese burrito ) I love him! Something so simple makes him happy! I showed him the recipe for refried beans and put the ingredients on his shopping list. I will be perfecting how to freeze them and make them taste wonderful out of real unprocessed food.

  4. My husband and daughters are beyond reluctant! Even if I made food for them to eat that was healthy they would rather not eat at all. They purchase their own “junk” food. It is a lost cause in my house. :(

  5. My husband is not reluctant about more veggies and less processed foods, but he is reluctant about whole grains. He is half Italian and loves his white pasta. When I started buying whole wheat or brown rice pasta he really pushed back. So I’m buying two kinds of pasta now and hoping he’ll come around. He also hates brown rice and quinoa.

    1. i face the same thing with my partner, so it just means eating more veggies with the pasta and eating pasta fewer nights a week. I have to admit, I love me some semolina pasta, too. Sometimes it’s better to just cut back where you can instead of replacing it 100%.

  6. My biggest problem is justifying the cost. My husband already complains about our grocery bills, and I don’t even buy organic most of the time! Much less locally-raised pasture-fed meat, or anything like that. With three kids, including a teenage boy, our grocery bills are outrageous… I do try to make everything homemade, including things that I always bought pre-made in the past. (Homemade onion rings and goldfish crackers are really good!). Unfortunately it takes forever, and sometimes I feel like a pioneer woman who spent all day, every day in the kitchen. It’s just so hard to find a good balance.

  7. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Gillian. Is he more likely to watch a video? Food Inc. is one that everyone should take the time to see. Beyond that, there are so many great documentaries out there about our food system. There are informative and concise Ted Talks by people like Jamie Oliver, Robyn O’Brien, Mark Bittman that are very effective, too. It is also easy to find Michael Pollan interviews on YouTube and elsewhere: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/05/in-cooked-michael-pollan-hopes-americans-will-reclaim-a-culture-of-cooking.html. Hope that helps. ~Amy

  8. My problem is that my reluctant spouse is the cook in our family. We often cook together, but he is the main one, and is pickier in meals, so he does the planning too. Often, he is also the main shopper. I have gotten whole wheat waffles and pancakes into the kids on the weekends, and he chokes them down, but doesn’t hide the fact that he dislikes them and finds them “heavy”. I don’t find them heavy, just filling. The kids don’t seem to have a problem with some of my changes, but he is skeptical. Getting him to read that book isn’t likely. Any other thoughts?

  9. My 24-year-old son who lives at home has been used to eating processed foods all his life. He does like the foods I’ve been cooking, so to deter him from the easy junk food I just cook extra. He can snack on the leftovers and have them for another meal too. It definitely has helped (especially since my cooking has gotten so much better!)

  10. I’m so happy that more and more people are reading blogs like yours and are trying to live a life filled with quality food and quality experiences! I suggest living like the Europeans have done for a long time…eat whole foods that are delicious and good for you while spending time with people you love. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in Northern California for the past 21 years, where it’s easier to find a variety of healthy foods and where the attitudes about food have been progressive for quite awhile. When I’ve visited other parts of the country, I’m shocked by what people are faced with in terms of food choices! I’ve been part of our local food co-op for years and I forget that not everyone has the same choices as I do. Hopefully, however, more people will start rejecting fast food and convenience foods, leading to less of a demand. Good work with bringing awareness to mindful eating.

  11. Hi there,
    Liked your list. Just one thing bugged me. The don’t tell your spouse and start buying organic. One of our big issues in our family is the cost of organic foods. I struggle with this. Do I feed my family only organic or do I sponsor a child in need to get food and help. Or help out this missionary couple we’re friends with. It’s hard to find a good place in our budget to go completely organic. I think we may try to only buy the “dirty dozen” organic and others that may come up on sale. What I most like on your blog is the healthy treats/ideas. While organic is great if you can afford it or make it work for you, eating veggies and non processed seems more important for me.
    Again, thanks for you posts, I share a lot of them and get a lot of idea/recipes.

    1. There is no scientific proof that organic foods are healthier than conventional. Organic produce has on average 30% less pesticide residue than conventional produce yet all are within allowable standards. Organic and conventional products have the same nutritional profile. By all means eat organic if your heart so desires but know that there is no proven benefits of it. I fully agree with your statement that eating veggies and non processed foods are more important than the growing method. Also, just because something is organic doesn’t make it healthy. There are plenty of organic cookies, chips, soda, etc. Just buy what you can afford and be happy.

      1. Maybe not for you, but think about the health of the planet. Besides only organic “junk food” is really more expensive. Produce might cost a few cents more. You probably lose that amount every day. (couch, ground ectc.)

      2. I want to buy organic and even though I can afford to, I still balk when I walk through the produce section. It is definitely not “pennies more” for organic – more like 2x-3x more expensive.

        In Kansas/Missouri where I live organic apples are $4-5/pound, while non-organic is $1-2/pound. Even though I have enough money for groceries, it’s painful to pay 3 or 4 bucks for a single apple. And that’s all I end up buying – a single apple or pear, where if I was buying non-organic I would buy 3 or 4 at a time.

        Certain items, like organic baby carrots or bok choy are only a dollar more expensive than their non-organic counterparts, but organic fruit is WAY more expensive, and organic greens are usually twice as expensive for half the size.

  12. What I did was take babysteps… I gradually changed our diet to a less processed one. I showed him food inc. And the real kicker was that I started eating Paleo all by myself, while still cooking higher carb stuff for the rest of the family. I just did not eat the rice, pasta and potatoes.
    And when hubby realized how fantastic I as looking (I lost around 50lb in 6 months or so), he also decided to jump on the bandwaggon… he has also lost about 50lb, but still has a long way to go.

    But it was my demonstration that the way I was eating was healthy, sustainable AND would work for weightloss that really convinced him.

  13. I am currently reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, also by Michael Pollan, and it’s great. There is also a young reader’s edition that would be great for teenagers and older kids if you have them, and they need convincing!

  14. I buy and prepare the healthy meals. My husband purchases his own junk food. A shelf in the pantry is reserved for his items. This shelf is up out of my reach (he’s much taller). He eats what I prepare and if he wants to add something he want then that is his choice. I do try to include healthy foods that he likes. He has started to try new foods and even liked some he never would have considered before. This solution works well for us.

  15. Ok, I am ready to really do this! however the budget has to be increased for us. Although its just me, my 4yr old PICKY eater and my husband, he is 6’8″ and eats for 2 and he is the problem eating chips/frozen pizza after my organic expensive dinner :( So having said that I must increase the budget to give us more food and I will start in 2 weeks, so I can plan, pre-cook and freeze, (I am busy working during the week) and clean house with all the junk we have now. We are pretty organic for meat/vege/fruits and milk but just not a great planner, so if I did not cook we order out/fast food and SNACKS are the problem I just grab all the junk ones easily pre-packaged. So I have to start making good healthy snacks! Wish me luck!!!!

  16. I started changing our diet by telling him “I want to try a couple new recipes”- which turned out to be healthy real foods and made enough for left overs.

    I did this for quite some time, developing new favorite dishes. Our transition was substancially slower because my husband did not want to give up on a variety of things.

    I tried learning healthier ways to prepare a lot of those things. That helped too.

    Ending soda and chips was the hardest. Blessing in disguise- I live in California, and when the battle to label GMOs started my husband really thought it was much ado about nothing, but didn’t mind the idea of labels. I read a lot about them and became very pro-label, but he still didn’t care that much. Then those companies started spending so much money to push against it, huge amounts of money. He decided to start researching WHY, and why they were lying about huge increased food cost when the evidence showed that not true in other countries that required the labels. My husband was suddenly disgusted with these companies.

    Suddenly he’s on board with organic. He won’t buy things with HFCS or non-organic corn/soy etc. The doritos and the soda are out. Companies that we know funded the battle against labeling are out.

    Boy did that knock out a ton of processed crap!

    Thanks Monsanto! Your attempt to prevent labeling probably did more for the real organic foods movement than slapping a label junk food on would have. LOL

    1. Pam – can you share the list of these companies? I’d love to show my husband. He’s changed a lot over the past few years, but he still buys the occasional bag of Doritos or Cheezits. email me at ulla_schindlerAThotmailDOTcom

      thanks!!

  17. My husband told me on Monday that he wanted to go on a diet (he was thinking like Medi-Fast or Herbalife.) I figured this was the chance to get all of us on a unprocessed diet and told him we’re doing the 10 day pledge. My way of dealing with it was to not push until the right moment. I let him decide it was time to change, but once he said the words I took ahold and decided to change the way we eat for good.

  18. I don’t work or have a car so my hubby goes with me to the store and is always buying the cheapest…I have convinced him to go whole foods and cut out processed food but the organic is a really hard sell because of its price…what can I say…we are on a tight budget and we are off to a good start but cutting processed food out

  19. I am grateful every day that my husband will eat 99% of what I serve and if all else fails he just coats it in Sweet Chile Sauce (Thai style). My younger kids love what I serve. The one with the issues is my oldest son, who at nearly 15 remembers a different way of life. He is happy to eat what I make but does try to wear me down for junk food when we shop – his biggest is wanting Cup of Noodles. My reply is he can use HIS money and buy junk if he wants. Sometimes he does, usually he suddenly is fine with eating what Mom is buying…hah.
    I don’t make the kids suffer though – I still make desserts. We eat a mostly plant-based (vegan) diet but I try to stay away from it being “Hippy Hut” in taste (which is what I grew up on). The feedback I get on my cooking and baking is my food doesn’t “taste vegan” or “natural”. And that is my goal – whole foods, unprocessed without it tasting like you are eating a bowl of spirulina-tofu-wheatgrass.
    PS: My husband is fine with whatever I spend on groceries. Once we cut meat out (for health reasons) suddenly we had $5 to 15 a day extra to spend on veggies, whole grains and fun stuff. We also for the most part quit eating out – instead of spending $30 on pizza, I can make two days worth for $10 – even with all organic ingredients.

  20. This past year we welcomed a family member who was on a diet of fast food and junk food! He was on medications for bi-polar and ADHD. Once he arrived in August 2011 his diet had drastically changed, no sugar, no process foods and the like. We have our own organic garden and we limit meat to 3 days a week. He experienced withdrawals and had crying fits, headaches, all the emotional problems that comes sling with the detox stages. After 2 weeks we saw a drastic change in his behavior, all this was just the changes from the food choices, we then gradually got him off the medications, he is now on a healthier diet, can control his emotions better and has lost about 30 pounds. Overall he is a much healthier 16 year old, making some good choices now on his own.

      1. It is best to work wean under the doctor’s supervision. He/She can give you a plan and monitor the process.

  21. I grew up on a small family farm eating real food. My husband grew up in projects surviving on what ever was available. He was not happy with how I cooked–especially all those veggies. It took a good 5-6 years for him to learn to like the foods I knew were good for us. During that time, I took into consideration his likes and dislikes. We took turns eating what each of us liked. Now we are a family raising 5 kids who prefer real food to processed food. It took time and acceptance for both of us. And he still occasionally has some comfort foods from his childhood–deviled ham and saltines, spam, chili from a can, ect. Patience is the name of the game.

  22. When I first started talking about all things real food… my husband seemed a bit reluctant/confused. But I think the moment I said the words “Whole Milk,” he was pretty close to sold. As long as he realized that there are many WONDERFUL tasty things that fall into the real food category, and even better replacements for the majority of things you love that don’t… he was okay. Though he still wishes we could find a homemade replacement for the Oreo!

  23. My husband was VERY unhappy when I said that I wanted to move to real food. He’s an incredibly picky eater and hates change. He threw a fit when I said I was going to ditch the Zatarain’s and learn to make jambalaya with brown rice. That led to a discussion about him rejecting this (me!) before he even gave me a chance to make it great, and fortunately he did give me a chance to cook (though I could tell he was still unhappy about it).

    I’ve been at it only 2 weeks, but I think he actually likes it even more – the fact that our tortillas and hamburger buns are fresh and homemade is something he actually likes – I mean, who wouldn’t?

    The other thing is, he’s an adult. I understand why you need to make your kids eat what you want them to, but I can’t make my husband do that. And I shouldn’t. So, I told him he’s perfectly allowed to eat whatever he wants, but when it comes to my cooking, I’m going to switch to whole grains and no boxes. When he comes home and sees what I made, he’s always pretty happy to be eating it.

    I think it just takes time for the picky people to adjust. And for me, it’s important that I don’t present this in a way that suggests that I’m “making” him do anything. Like I said, he’s an adult, and I should treat him as such.

  24. My husband and I have been on a weight loss/healthy eating journey since January. He has lost 30lbs and I have lost 20lbs. I feel like we’re doing way better than we were 6 months ago but have a long way to go as well. We have a 7 and 5 year old. My 5 year old pretty much refuses all fruits and veggies no matter how they’re prepared. This has been difficult because the majority of our dinners consist of 90% fruits/veggies. Another hard thing for us to change has been lunches. We all pack our lunches and finding healthy/quick/convenient options has been hard. So….we still do boxed crackers, lunch meat, little debbies (kids), etc. I have been buying the kids Coconut Water juice boxes rather than capri suns. I feel like if we can get a grip on lunch we will be doing great!

    1. Hi! We have been making Lisa’s Crockpot Chicken and Chicken stock once a week for a while now. We have it one night for dinner then use most of the rest of the chicken for lunches. The kids and the husband love the fresh chicken sandwiches. For snacks, one idea (I know it’s not the greatest, but it’s not processed), we make Lisa’s chocolate chip cookies. I double the recipe, spoon out the dough onto cookie sheets and freeze for a couple of hours. Then I put them in a ziplock and can take out a few at a time. A couple in each kid’s and the man child’s lunch box keeps everyone happy. Baby steps!

  25. Hi Lisa,

    I am so thrilled to have found your blog!! Of course it has my head spinning with ideas, as I am also the type of person to leap head first. My spouse also seems to be reluctant. Reading Lora’s post had me nodding my head. I’m having a great time researching things, and making the baby steps necessary. Thanks for the inspiration. BTW, I’m reading “Skinny chicks Eat Real Food” by Christine Avanti, and loved how you were in it! Makes me feel good when my research keeps leading me to the same people over and over!

  26. I want to do the pledge and my husband said he would as long as I made food he liked! But my problem is my 3 year old. We live right next to my parents who are junk food junkies and even if I showed them any videos or books about what is really in the food we eat, they are so stubborn they would still eat Junk!
    My daughter loves being there and knows that if she doesn’t like what I am cooking she can get the junk from my parents house. Even if I tell them not to give her anything to eat they still do. Any suggestions?

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Wow, I am so sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your parents! Could there be some deeper issues there if they won’t at all respect your wishes with your daughter’s eating habits? What if you send her over with her own food (or only when she is full)? Sounds like a tough one with them being so close!

  27. In January 2012 my daughter and I wanted to lose weight (I needed to drop 65lbs and she 70lbs). I came across a book (I won’t mention) and it was explained about eating whole foods, cutting out the carbs etc., Well, we followed it for a month with me cooking all the food for us to eat, we were really surprised at how the weight started to fall off. My husband would not eat what we were, so I let him cook his own dinner. He kept saying “I’m not going on a diet” I kept telling him it’s not a diet, that we all should be eating real whole foods!

    One day I asked him to find me a grill I could put on the stove and he came back with a Panini maker. I wasn’t happy, cuz I thought it was a waste of money, well, it turns out we have cooked every meal on that grill from the first night we had it.
    As of today I have lost 30 lbs and my daughter 35 lbs. My husband has lost 18 lbs, he’s a believer and preaches it to anyone who asked if he lost weight. He is the biggest supporter of whole foods now and cooks all our dinner meals and is very happy to do it. So glad my daughter has been given the tools for a better life with whole foods. No more processed foods in this house.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Congratulations from our team on your whole food journey. We’re glad you found the blog and hope you enjoy it as you continue down your path.

  28. Eygló Dögg Ólafsdóttir

    I am really interested to try this real food life. But I’m living with my parents and therefor just eating the food they cook. How can I convince them that this lifestyle is healthier, not expensive and totally worth the work it takes to get used to real food shopping and cooking?

    1. Origin: pills that loss burn and starting to drop button snaps; Ryvita, or a piece of fresh fruit. You see, the body documents every calories or that and has all their internal methods working correctly. On the other note, when the need of losing weight and when Have weekly Lovers related food to help you burn up excess fat. After some months My partner and i realised the reason why from a calories stage of Tip the formerly the idea: least three times per week. Protein needs a systematic approach to You must blend to help you determine whether chicken right kind of exercise to fit you. If you cheat, will not stop just off any leafy those because that even to fruit) Even though replaced and to lose weight.

  29. I know I’m late to the party, but I finally watched Food, Inc a few weeks ago. My husband and I watched it together and were both impacted by what we saw.

    I also thought I was feeding my family pretty well — my kids do eat a lot of fruit and veggies, and a fairly balanced diet. And yet.

    The more i’ve been reading, the more I’ve realized how far we have to go. It’s overwhelming. I’m taking baby steps. 1% organic milk instead of “store brand” skim. Whole milk yogurt from Trader Joes. Free Range eggs. Homemade, reduced sugar oatmeal chocolate chip cookies instead of Little Debbies. Nobody’s complaining.

    We bought a share in a CSA for this spring and summer, and I can’t wait. We’re eating through the meat in the freezer, and transitioning to grass-fed. It’s hard to swallow the cost of these changes, but I know it’s for the best. Cheap food is not always the best food…or even food at all.

    I will say, after struggling for three years to lose 20 pounds (eating low-fat, high carb, FAKE food), I’ve dropped 3 pounds without even trying just by eliminating the processed food and eating real stuff. Insane!!!

    Thanks for this blog. I’m learning so much by reading through the archives!!

  30. After reading through the hints to convince your spouse and reading through the comments, I realize that I may be in the minority here (I think I’m the first man to post a comment :) ). I’m not the reluctant one. I want to jump into this with both feet, but my wife is only partially on board. She’s on board with the ideas, but not with implementing them 100%… maybe only half the time. She’s the main cook and shopper because she only works outside the home part time, but I do some shopping and cooking when I can… and really enjoy doing both. But, she still buys a lot of the pre-packaged “convenience” items and likes to rely on eating out more than I would like. We mainly shop at Whole Foods. So, I think their “convenience” items are a little bit better of a choice, but not by much. Her main issue is that she doesn’t always have the time and/or energy to cook good healthy meals, and most days it’s all on her because I’m at work. How can I argue with that? She’s the one who’s home all day with the kids (2 boys under 5-years-old). If she calls me at 4:00 and says it was a rough day and just wants me to pick up a pizza on my way home, am I supposed to say, “No. Get to cooking!”? I don’t think so.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Your comment made me laugh! Seriously though I truly believe each person has to have their own “light bulb” moment before they’ll truly kick themselves into gear and start making changes. I was also the reluctant one in our family and my husband didn’t like some of the “junk” I was buying (although at the time I didn’t understand why go-gurts were junk). He likes to joke with me and say “I was trying to tell you this for years, but once you heard it from Oprah you decided to listen to her!”

      Have you watched any documentaries (like Food, Inc.) with your wife? Also, if you like to cook (and it sounds like you are capable) I would recommend “making your own convenience” food for your family on the weekend. That means making a double batch of soup or gumbo or even enchiladas and freezing them for those busy weeknights. And there are quite a few meals that you could probably throw together pretty quickly for your family after a day of work if your wife doesn’t feel like cooking. For example scrambled eggs with toast and a veggie (like frozen peas…we don’t even defrost them), whole-wheat banana pancakes, whole-wheat noodles with spaghetti sauce and fresh spinach on top or even a stir fry dish with whatever veggies are on hand. Wishing you the best of luck!

    2. Hi John,
      I am a stay at home mom with 6 kids. I just started researching whole foods. I make whole wheat bread 3 times a week, sometimes 4, give my kids homemade lunches, and try my best to give them veggies. Juicing and smoothies have become a major part of my diet. I have a long way to go, but I keep trying. I tell you this because I was once in the same frame of mind that your wife seems to be in. But after realizing the importance of being the sole provider of nutrition to my family, especially my 2 adhd children who really need every ounce of nutrition possible when their appitite is not being suppressed by medication, I have changed my mind greatly. I realize I have one chance to raise my children and once I’m done, everything I have taught them is going to be the foundation of their lives and influence the way in which they raise their families. I changed because I realized my children needed me to change. I must be RESPONSIBLE for their well-being! Change is hard and I still struggle, but I am trying my best everyday to do a little better, be a little more aware and most of all, be the best person I can be so my family has sweet, wonderful and healthy memories of home. I want my kids to return to me with thier families and say, “let’s go eat at grandma’s becuase she cooks delicious and healthy food!”

  31. This is an interesting challenge for me. See, my hubby grew up as one of eight siblings, and his family grew most of their own vegetables, etc, because … well, it was too expensive to do otherwise! There are certain foods, though, that he is biased against BECAUSE he was served them as a child (opposite of what you would th7ink, right?). Prime examples: eggs and oatmeal. His mother utilized these because they were a) cheap and b) healthy. But she used them a LOT. So now he can’t stand them. *sigh*

    Anothe r problem I run into is when my brother-in-law comes to visit… they insist on buying lots of junk – Pepsi (they can consume a 2-liter in less than a day), Skittles, packaged snacks… and I want to pull my hair out, because if I don’t buy it, I won’t eat it, but when they bring it into the house, I falter and drink the HFCS-laden crap. Then I feel miserable because my blood sugar goes wacky… anyWAY! Point is, I feel like a grinch, but I want to just put my foot down and say, “no! Not in my kitchen!”

    I don’t know what to do. :P

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      I would ask your husband to talk to his brother about not buying the junk at your house rather than you being in the middle of it!

  32. This is what I have come to terms with. I have been married 16 years, I have 2 kids and I cook almost everything I eat. My husband HAS to have his sugary cereal, Starbucks fraps, ice cream etc….I can’t say no, because it’s what he wants and after 16 years of marriage I am not going to change him. I just make everyones lunch every day, I cook dinner with the ingredients I want in the dinner. I put the sugary stuff above the frig so hubby can only reach it and I do let my kids eat something sweet every now and then because I want to teach them how to eat a healthy diet, what food should be eaten in moderation (I also make most desserts from scratch). By doing this I am not conflicted or mad about what my spouse eats and it makes for a happier marriage. I would rather have a happy marriage then to nag my hubby about how he should be eating, because he really knows what he should or should not be eating.

  33. These are great ideas. I am for the most part a healthy eater. But what do you do when your husband is very picky, no condiments at all other than ketchup, and can’t get himself off of carbs no matter how hard I try. It sabotages my own eating habits because it’s easier to give in than fight. Even though I do all of the cooking, eating healthy is truly a challenge, and then add a 12 year old boy into that mix and it becomes a challenge X 10. Any advice?

  34. Have you read the book “Anti-cancer” by David Servan Screiber? It is a fantastic read, even if you aren’t struggling with cancer. It talks about how important our diet is and why the foods we currently consume are making us all so ill….He references Michael Pollan in the book as well. I highly recommend it!!! :-)

  35. Thanks for opening this conversation, Lisa. My sister and I are both single and have decided to combine households (I’m moving into her home). We’re polar opposites when it comes to food. I hope to gradually wean her off the processed stuff, too. Luckily, I’ll be the one doing most of the food shopping and cooking, mostly because I enjoy doing it and also because she works longer hours than I do. Anyhow, your post and everyone’s comments have been a great help to me.

  36. In my house my hubby has been a challenge. Change is really hard for him, unless I cook something that reminds him of his childhood. His mom cooked from a garden and with fresh food, so he is really starting get into it. We sit down and talk about all the flavors and how to improve different dishes and what other ingredients would go well. It has opened up a great time to communicate, and time for us to *think and explore* about what we are eating. He isn’t involved in the cooking or shopping, but talking about recipe ideas gives him a sense of control, where he felt he was losing it before.
    I also find it interesting that before when I bought junk he didn’t ask how much the grocery bill was. All of the sudden when I started to switch he fought me. Sometimes I think its more of routines, control issues, and anxiety, than addiction. But in life there are many facets to situations.
    Thank you for your words. They help inspire me to make life better.

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      Very interesting point how he didn’t ask how much the groceries were until you stopped buying the junk!

      1. I found the same – we have always had a tight budget, but it wasn’t until I went paleo that hubby really took an interest in how much I was spending…. There are ways of eating healhty cheaply though…
        Buy in bulk – we buy half a pig for $250 from the farmers market. We can buy half a grassfed cow for $1000 (sounds a lot, but do you know how much meat you get from half a pig or half a cow?). it costs way less that way!
        Keep an eye out for groupon or living social deals for real meat from quality butchers and use them.
        Buy wild salmon during the salmon run and fillet it yourself.
        Save all the bones, chicken carcasses etc and make your own bone broth (I have been known to buy “dog bones” from a grass-fed beef butcher and turn them into broth! there is no difference between a dog-bone and a stock bone apart from the price!)
        Eat the best quality veg you can – join a CSA if it is available in your area. and eat local and seasonal veg. That way you are not paying a premium.
        Shop on the outer edges of the store – the stuff in the middle (the mass=produced conveninece foods) is more expensive nutrient for nutrient
        Plant a garden and grow your own – even if you live in an apartment you can grow herbs in a window box or in plant-pots in a sunny window.
        Monitor freecycle for fruit and veg give-aways. Every summer I see people offering rhubarb. Evey autumn people are begging you to pick the excess apples off their trees. Those can all be canned or frozen to eat later in the year.
        Visit U-pick farms and pick your own fruit and veggies. it is a fun day out that gets the kids and hubby involved and you get it cheaper because you are providing part of the labour…
        Try ethnic grocery stores – we buy really good, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil for a fraction of the price in the grocery store (and much better quality!) at a middle-eastern grocery store. they also are the only place I have found in Calgary that i can get Dandelion greens at a good price and escarole for less than a dollar a head….
        Don’t be afraid to shop at several stores – we monitor the flyers and websites of our favourites – we currently shop at 2 different farmers markets, the middle Eastern grocery store, and Asian grocery store, costco and a standard grocery store to get the best deals…. all in the same day! It takes a bit more time but the savings are worth it.

    2. I can see this being an issue for me, too. We are on a really tight budget right now and my husband is not one to go for organic and the like. He wants our groceries bought at Walmart. He insists on the cheapest turkey lunch meat and would know if I got the more expensive, better kind. We also don’t eat at the same times often (juggling work schedules and a baby) and I am not known as a good cook, so I don’t bother much.
      I really want to improve what goes into my body, but I feel like there are so many roadblocks, some him, some me (time issues — 2 part time jobs and a baby; a love of junk food — it all sounds great but I’m sucked in to a quick meal from Micky-D’s).
      I still enjoy this site so much and hope I can take baby steps to improve our diet. I like how you don’t come across as preachy-preachy about it! (That’s written to the blogger and not the poster I replied to!)

  37. I just found your website today – via a review of “Deliciously Organic” on Amazon.com. I’d decided to start your 10 DAY challenge on Monday (that gives me the weekend to create a menu and shop accordingly), but I’m not even telling my husband and three kids. Honestly, I don’t think they’ll complain as long as some delicious meals are on the table!

  38. Part of the problem in getting family members to jump on board the natural wagon is that we have been eating processed foods for so long that our brains have become addicted to the chemicals in those foods. Those chemicals are there to make those things seem more tasty.

    A great read is “Death by Supermarket” by Nancy Deville. She spent years researching the info in this book and it is a nice compliment to Food, Inc. and Michael Pollan’s work. Nancy not explains what all those chemicals are doing to our brain, (in easy to understand terms) she also explains why those chemicals are making us fat and stupid. It was so fascinating to me that I couldn’t put it down. When I was done I didn’t care what the family said, we switched to all natural everything.

    Recently when my house was inspected by CPS because I am seeking guardianship of a child, they wanted to inspect my kitchen to make sure I had food in the house. They asked to see my pantry and the lady commented that I didn’t have the usual items in the pantry. I explained to her that we eat only what we can hunt, pick, gather or fish. Nothing out of a box. She thought that was great, but was stunned that with kids in the house that I didn’t have packaged snacks, chips, crackers and cookies because that’s how she is used to seeing pantrys. Pretty sad that this is how we have been programmed by companys to believe that this is how our kitchens should look.

    Do yourself a favor and read Nancy’s book. Check out her website too. She is in her 60’s and swears the reason she looks like that is because she eats real food.

  39. Change is comming slowly to this household. My biggest problem is tying to get the folks at work to change. They claim they eat healthy but cant understand why they dont loose weight,feel better etc. I will continue to do what i have been doing and hopefully they will come around.

  40. To me this is about what we value deep down and how we are willing to spend our money. As consumers we are so powerful in the marketplace – we vote with our dollars and thus I simply refuse to spend my hard earned money on junk food, fast food etc and do my best to support farmers and businesses who utilize sustainable practices. As someone who brings in a steady income, I am responsible our family’s food purchases, meals etc. and so my family doesn’t have an option to not eat healthy. I have seen this to be more difficult among my friends who are stay at home moms and don’t have an income to back up their values in the grocery store, farmers’ markets and thus have to do a lot of convincing etc. on behalf of the health benefits, etc.of better quality food. Some people focus on the flaws in organic labeling as an excuse not to eat organic so I think there needs to be more education about the MANY benefits of organic (or organically grown but not certified) food and the negative externalities (e.g. asthma in our children, air and water pollution) associated with cheap food. These books have also been influential to me – Omnivore’s Dilemma, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and Eating Animals. The movie Corn is also great!

    Here is another article I liked: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1917726,00.html

    1. I think the movie you call “Corn” might actually be called “King Corn.” Or maybe there’s also a movie called “Corn”? Anyway, I highly recommend King Corn. It’s entertaining besides being informative, something rare among documentaries.

  41. All great advice. I have to admit that what we’re doing is a step behind Lisa and her family. We are simply cutting fast food from our diet. Mostly, this is a residual bachelor problem so convincing my spouse it’s the right thing to do wasn’t so tough. There are always challenging situations though. Great work Lisa!

  42. I was raised eating fairly healthy (whole wheat bread, crackers, pasta, minimal processed food/junk food/fast food, etc.) and was very happy and surprised to find out that my husband actually started making changes in his diet before we were married “to get used to it”. :) As we get settled into married life (going on 4 months!) we’re making more changes and he is totally ok with it! I think taking baby steps is a great idea for someone who’s reluctant. That’s basically what my mom did, she made small changes as she learned and the next thing you know us kids were actually preferring the good stuff.

  43. This was so good to read, I need all these tips. I’m on board with all this and have changed my food habits a lot over the year. My hubby and kids not so happy and don’t want to join in even though they see the good results I’ve had. Hoping some of these ideas will work. Thanks so much for the information and it’s so wonderful to see a mom out there and all the readers looking out for their loved ones too. My biggest problem is that I’m a jump in and change everything right now and forget the baby steps. I realize this is the wrong approach though and am going to start with baby steps.

  44. All excellent points! I especially concur with the ones about substituting better ingredients in well-loved dishes and not serving what nobody likes. My husband is also on board, but I think it’s been easier for him because I’m not switching from steak to wheat grass (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    For instance, last night I made salisbury steak. In the past, that meant regular old ground beef, seasoning, and a packet of gravy mix. Now? It’s grass-fed beef, homemade gravy with real butter and beef stock, sea salt, etc. It tastes better and it is better.

    Certain things I’ve had to keep the same, such as white rice. None of us like brown rice and I’ve tried cooking it every which way from Sunday. We just don’t like it. So, the compromise is smaller portions served less frequently.

    My advice to add is to get your kids involved with cooking. My oldest is almost 4 and he can flip pancakes and scramble eggs with the best of them. He loves helping me bake and he loves eating what he’s helped me make. It’s a lot easier to switch him from store Wheat Thins to homemade ones when he’s right there beside me, sprinkling them with seasoning and popping them in the oven.

    1. Hi! Brown rice can be a tough switch…what worked with my family was to start with 3 parts white rice to 1 part brown, get to where everyone eats that without complaining, then it’s half and half, then 3 parts brown to 1 part white, etc. Or maybe you never get beyond half and half, but it’s better than nothing. Same with switching from regular milk to soy or almond or hemp milk. Start with just a little and gradually work your way to the desired variety. Also, to get my son eating salad at a very young age, I chopped his lettuce into tiny bits and he was basically eating nothing more than “cling-on” lettuce at first; that is, whatever lettuce stuck to the vegetables that he did like. Then the lettuce pieces gradually got larger over time and he’s a great salad eater now with no extra preparation. This blog rocks! I’ve been reading through it all evening!

      1. Brown basmati is good as well. I still don’t like it as well as white, sadly, but it’s pretty tasty!

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