I'm Healthy; He's not!
What can you do when you're on the road to healthier eating and feeling fabulous—but your significant other is on a different path altogether? (Heading for fast food and feeling lousy!)
Well, you have three choices:
1) Race on ahead and leave them behind.
2) Drag them along with you—kicking and screaming.
3) Entice them onto your path with delicious treats they won't even know are good for them.
Photo credit Stock Photo Secrets
My husband is an intelligent and successful man, but his diet is atrocious. When eating out, Jim usually chooses between a cheeseburger, a sausage pizza, or mac and cheese. He'd honestly be happier ordering from the kids' menu!
When I feared Jim's diet would lead to health issues, I decided he needed my help! At first, I chastised him and told him he had to start eating vegetables if he wanted to live. (too dramatic?) Then I threw up my arms and told him I didn't care what he ate. (Not true.) And finally, I decided to sneak in some good stuff.
One of Jim's better food choices is spaghetti bolognese, and this was where I started sneaking in those much-needed vegetables. I added finely grated carrots and chopped green peppers (so tiny as not to be noticed) to grass-fed ground beef. Then I swapped the regular white spaghetti for brown rice spaghetti. Only when Jim had declared it a delicious dish (and there was no denying it) did I tell him about the healthy additions.
Choose whole grains whenever you can (and if you don't have a sensitivity to them). They provide numerous health benefits and have sustained the human race for thousands of years. And 100% whole wheat isn't your only option, especially if you need to avoid gluten. Oats, corn, brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat are all naturally gluten-free.
If your spouse loves bread but refuses to give the whole grain a chance, you can find white whole wheat bread at most grocery stores. It has the same "squishy" feel that kids (and my husband) love! (I'm not too fond of this type of bread, but it's a good segway to healthier eating.) Sourdough bread is delicious, and even when made with white flour, it has many health benefits not found in regular bread. (It's a gut-friendly choice that may be more digestible and nutritious.)
My husband loves pancakes. And after some persuading, he found himself enjoying a batch of 100% whole grain ones made with *Kodiak flapjack & Waffle Mix.
One of the easiest (and yummiest) swaps is to use real maple syrup instead of artificially flavored pancake syrups. Although all sweeteners should be eaten in moderation, pure maple syrup has some surprising health benefits. Maple syrup is full of minerals and contains a complex carbohydrate that encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut—and we all need a healthy, happy gut!
A smoothie is another great way to hide vegetables (and other "superfoods" like flax seeds or chia seeds). Spinach is supreme at being incognito; Once you blend it with other ingredients, you can barely taste it. The only issue with green smoothies is that they can look too healthy. But if you throw in a handful of blueberries, they'll overpower the "scary" green and complete the subterfuge!
When making a smoothie, don't skimp on naturally sweet ingredients. It would be a mistake to whip up a bitter-tasting smoothie and expect your partner to gulp it down with gusto. Pineapple and mango pair beautifully with leafy greens. And Medjool dates, raw honey, and real maple syrup add a delightful sweetness. Just a tiny amount of these natural foods can make any concoction appealing!
Blueberry Disguise Smoothie
1/4 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
Handful of spinach
2 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tablespoon peanut butter (optional)
1 scoop *collagen powder (optional)
1/2 cup milk (or enough to blend well)
Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy
*I really like the unflavored collagen peptide powder from Vital Proteins. You can find it here.
Avoid Fake Food
But whatever you do, please don't fall prey to artificial sweeteners or fake fats. These dubious products have their own set of undesirable effects. Fat-free foods may sound healthy, but they usually aren't! The missing fat is often replaced with extra sugar to make these foods more palatable. (Not a good move.)
I'm sure we all remember the misguided advice (given in the 90s) to ditch real butter in favor of margarine. These sticks of trans-fats turned out to be far worse for us than good ole butter. And although we shouldn't gorge on it, a little (grass-fed) butter can be part of a healthy diet. Hearing information like this will reassure your mate that they don't have to start living on weird, unfamiliar foods.
Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts. ~ James Beard
For the healthiest fats, look for olive oil or avocado oil. Both are excellent sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. (This type of fat can also increase the firmness and elasticity of your skin – which is very exciting news!)
Reassure your mate that eating healthier doesn't mean giving up everything they love. It just means doing better than they were before. Start with something they already enjoy eating—and give it a tweak to make it more wholesome.
Research has shown that short-term diets are ineffective for long-term health, so avoid fad diets or eating plans that can't be sustained or enjoyed. And don't be disheartened if your mate hasn't wholly joined you on a healthy path yet. Jim's road is still under construction—but at least he's granted it planning permission!
You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces–just good food from fresh ingredients. ~ Julia Child
*Vital Protein Collagen Powder and Kodiak Pancake Mix are affiliate links. And I will receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase them through my site. Thank you!
Mayo Clinic ~ Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet
Healthline ~ 8 gluten-free grains that are super-healthy
Health Digest ~ Surprising health benefits of maple syrup
Canadian Living ~ Canadians rejoice! Maple syrup has many health benefits
NPR ~ Why we got fatter during the fat-free food boom
Healthline ~ 10 low-fat foods that are low in nutrients
Healthline ~ 11 proven benefits of Olive oil
Pubmed ~ Health benefits of dietary whole grains
Science Daily ~ Pure maple syrup contains medicinally beneficial compounds