Many in the "Real Food" world speak of the difficulties of convincing the husbands, and I’m beginning to think it’s a major issue. We’re called to be partners in marriage, so it’s vital that we work hand in hand. The way the man of the house reacts to the food being served can impact not only the peace of the marriage, but also the way the children accept the food and respect the mother.
It is not this way in every situation, but so many of us wives are the ones doing the reading about nutrition and/or following our gut to determine our family’s nutritional goals. What’s a husband to do? When we put something a bit off the grid on the table, do they just have to eat it?
My apologies to the men out there; this post is not exactly for you. Ladies, read on for inspiration to get on the same page with your husband in the kitchen, no matter what it takes.
Beyond womanly wiles and bulldozing your ideas through, what’s a real foodie mama to do to keep peace in the marriage? Sometimes there are a lot of changes to make to transform a standard household to a whole foods diet. It really goes against the paradigm of seducing our men through their stomachs. A good meal is traditionally (and truly!) like a love letter to a man, whether during courtship or marriage.
If you’ve read part of my story, you know part of the craziness that happened within my own head and in my home as I learned more and began to make changes in our diets. When the dust settled, my husband was tentatively on board.
I probably did some bulldozing. I may have used some womanly wiles (here is one example). Ultimately, I do have a few tactics that I can share with the masses.
Real Food and Husbands: It’s About Teaching, Trust and Trickery
My husband is a computer guy, an engineer who truly appreciates cold, hard facts. I try to be as up on the science behind the nutrition as I can, and I lay it out for him as plainly as possible. He doesn’t have to know everything I know about what we’re eating, but he wants to know enough to understand why our food budget is expanding slightly and some of his favorite treats are disappearing. I explain to him how certain foods will keep us healthy and the rationale behind purchasing decisions, whether for the environment or our health. He knows enough to stay afloat about raw milk, coconut oil, and his own triglycerides.
My advice for others? Know how your husband likes to think. Talk about food. In manageable bites. He deserves to know.
My husband knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have our family’s best interests in mind when I work in the kitchen. He sees how much I care, how hard I work, and he honors that in how he reacts to the food I serve. This is not something I can make a bulleted list about for you.
Building trust is simply part of our marriage, based on open communication, prayer together, and a foundation of faith and love. Just as we discuss our family size and our goals for the future, we can discuss our health concerns and desires openly. He hears me pray for our family’s health and for guidance on what to buy and what to eat. He knows I’m doing my very best, and that is of the utmost importance. If you don’t have a foundation of trust in your marriage, stop working on changing your diet and start with your relationship with your husband with God as the guide.
This may sound mutually exclusive with the previous point, but it’s not. It’s about allowing yourself to be in control of the kitchen. The trust you’ve built means he doesn’t feel he has to micro-manage.
- It’s okay *not* to tell your husband when you’re trying something new, at least until after he’s tasted the meal. I don’t lie; that would be detrimental to the health of my marriage, even if he never finds out…but I do put organ meats in his spaghetti. He’s kind of learned not to ask!
- I serve tasty alternatives so often that he doesn’t notice his habits have been broken. I soak oatmeal or pancakes more than half of the time, so breakfast is determined before we wake up. The rest of the time, I prepare scrambled eggs and toast or try to persuade him to have yogurt or sourdough toast. Luckily, my husband loves oatmeal, so it’s a great alternative to cereal. He hardly notices the dwindling supply until he’s confronted with the lack of boxes in the basement.
- I tentatively upgrade certain meals, hoping the end result will be as tasty as the original (or better, in a perfect world). We’ve had great success with Homemade Hamburger Helper, Pepper Steak, and Skillet Lasagna. If I make a failure, I’m generally careful to wait at least a few days before trying something new!
- I make sure we still have good treats around, but they’re all upgraded nutrition. I bake cookies, but I use whole wheat flour, less sugar, and healthy fats. We have delectable hamburgers with grassfed beef and homemade buns. One meal like that is enough to keep him happy for a week!
- What’s the theme here? Serve food that tastes good most of the time so the husband doesn’t pay as much attention to (a) the food that is not so good and (b) the food he’s not getting anymore that he used to eat. Between knowing what he should eat and having so many good choices to fill him up before he gets distracted by what he shouldn’t eat, he hardly has time to eat poorly. (It’s a little like feeding a toddler in a non-condescending way.)
Partners in Life, Partners in Food
The bottom line in feeding a family, as in everything that has to do with running a household and growing children of God, is that you and your husband must be on the same page, or at least close. When I wanted to start getting raw milk, he said, "I’m never going to be more in favor of this than I am now. I’m still skeptical…but if you think it’s important, then let’s do it." I love my husband. In my opinion, it’s good that he’s more skeptical than me, because it keeps me grounded.
It helps me remember that we cannot add a day to our lives by worrying, and that the Lord counts every hair on our heads and will feed us well, just as He cares for the birds of the sky and the flowers of the field. He keeps me balanced, and this is vital in a field where I am constantly coming across conflicting information and research. Who’s to say what the perfect diet is? Be a team with your husband; peace in the household is more important than the most perfect meal on the table. Giving up (for a time, with more prayer) may be the answer, if that’s what it takes.
How about you? What are the biggest challenges in helping the men buy into the whole foods changes? What have been your greatest successes? We cookin’ wives need all the help we can get!
Copyright 2010 Katie Kimball
About the Author
Lisa M. Hendey is the founder of CatholicMom.com, a bestselling author and an international speaker. A frequent radio and television guest, Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and communications. Visit Lisa at LisaHendey.com or on social media @LisaHendey for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish, school or organization. Visit Lisa's author page on Amazon.com.