2

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Non-paleo spouse.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 17, 2011 at 2:38 AM

Has anyone found that their spouse became a paleo eater after a long period of resistance? Did anything you do help? How did you deal with it in the meantime? My wife and I started eating primally about one year ago, but at this point I am 95% strict and she's more like 60-80%. I'm the main cook so she'll eat what I make. However, she loves to bake and seems to always be making something sweet for our kids (or for herself) between meals. There seems to ALWAYS be dessert in our house. Even when we go to events, or out to dinner, she eats whatever even though I always find a way to stay Paleo.

I just find it so difficult to watch her "poison" herself with the sugar especially! I see her experience awful symptoms and I don't want her to hurt in those ways anymore. I want to give ourselves the best chance to live a long and full life together and I feel so frustrated that nothing she's read or heard or seen in me has worked. I HATE watching my kids eat the stuff too because I know it will be that much harder for them to stop eating it later in life. But, I realize, until my wife and I are a united front, it won't work to get them to stop.

Is there hope? Has anyone experienced a similar situation? I have stopped trying to change her mind because it just created awful fights. But is there anything that has worked for some of you in the past? How did you deal with watching a loved one hurt themselves in this "socially acceptable" way? Did anyone out there finally stop eating sugar after a long time of resistance? Was there anything your spouse could have done to help? What did help?

13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

(340)

on May 18, 2011
at 02:03 AM

Y'all made me ask a question

3960d381831b80ad96164f34e2ab6030

(565)

on May 17, 2011
at 07:56 PM

Thanks for this suggestion. I've got one online recipe book, but she doesn't like to search for recipes on the computer. Maybe a real book like that would help. Good idea.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 17, 2011
at 07:36 PM

Yeah. That's probably because of the traditional food-preparing role of the female, I guess.

13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

(340)

on May 17, 2011
at 05:42 PM

FWIW, Taubes thinks sucrose is worse than fructose, for the interaction b/n fructose and glucose (sucrose being 50% each)

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on May 17, 2011
at 05:15 PM

Seconded. Agave nectar is decidedly worse than sugar.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on May 17, 2011
at 01:13 PM

I agree with that.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:55 PM

Oh no, becker. Be proud that you figured it out. Seriously. Some people are always "THAT GUY" about other people's food choices. It is exciting when you are first learning about it and you want to share. I bet she comes around, at least partially.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:48 PM

@L. Peltier -- In part, it's probably due to insecurities, and my bigger muscles might have exacerbated them (no, really!). Neither of us are fat at all, myself about 7% bf, herself, eh, no idea, but she weighs 110 lbs. or so at 5'1". I think maybe she wants some of that tone for herself, and she's starting to realize the insulin isn't helping her subcutaneous fat get out of the way of her muscle, and her 20 minutes on the elliptical only succeeds in forcing her to take a second shower each day.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:43 PM

Thanks :) Hah, yeah, the super-excited early Paleo phase pissed her off so much. I wouldn't shut up about how I felt. It took me all of nine months to get to the "yes, dear" phase where I just let her food slide, so I don't deserve TOO much credit. Here's to hoping my silence is the right strategy to get through to her...

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:43 PM

Maybe not easier. I think that women are more often the primary cooks and so control the kitchen to a greater degree. Once you get someone used to eating a certain way (and possibly feeling the difference), it may just become habit to continue the trend. If the spouse who doesn't cook much (usually the husband) tries to change eating habits or take over the kitchen, I think it's possible the primary cook could take offense and passive aggressively reject the change.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:43 PM

Playing "devils advocate" but also from what I have experienced, what are the chances her coming around is due to insecurities?

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:29 PM

I'm so glad you figured out not to be pushy about it! It's hard to not comment about things like how nasty the Clif bar is when you are in the super exciting learning about Paleo phase. If/when people want to change they will figure it out. You are an awesome role model for her.

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:26 PM

Sherpamelissa, my husband is the same with butter! He likes the fake stuff in the tub better than actual butter. I don't understand it, lol.

60199d3a580a4e17969059609e48e678

(883)

on May 17, 2011
at 06:01 AM

I've told my husband that when our son is born that he will be eating an all paleo diet just like I am and that if daddy wants to keep his snack cakes and soda he better lock them away so our son can't get to them because I will be having none of that mess in my house (unless its a birthday or really special occasion). Hes agreed with me that I will be in control of my kids nutrition because 1. hes a terrible cook (can't even make sandwiches wtf...) and 2. I am a zealot about nutrition. Really its my other family members I am concerned about... they are obsessed with bread.

B3e7d1ab5aeb329fe24cca1de1a0b09c

(5242)

on May 17, 2011
at 04:39 AM

She could be vegan....

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on May 17, 2011
at 03:44 AM

Egads, watch out for that agave nectar recommendation. It's nearly all (if not all) fructose.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 17, 2011
at 02:50 AM

I am no help, my husband doesn't even like the Kerrygold. He wants the "normal" butter back. I don't think 80% Paleo is so bad. I know it's frustrating, but you can't really push someone with nutrition. You have to want it or the effort is too much. Just keep being awesomely Paleo and don't be annoying about it.

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13 Answers

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3
Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

on May 17, 2011
at 02:10 PM

Paleo is good, but 99% of the population isn't paleo. If your kids, because of you, discover paleo when they are 20 or 30, they are still way ahead of most people. If your wife is 60%-80%, that's again quite good. Not optimal, sure, but better than most, enough so that if you feel she's "poisoning" yourself, then maybe it's you who needs to chill a bit. Yes, if you want to do 95%, that's fantastic, but if others don't that's okay too. Remember, it's also your word against the USDA, most doctors, most nutritionists, etc., so you shouldn't expect 100% buy-in.

On the other hand, pretty much everybody agrees that sugar is bad for you. It might not be a hard sell to suggest that your family eat roughly the way it does now, but only have sweets and dessert say 2-3x/week, and not go wild when you do. That's a massive improvement, because "the poison is in the dose".

You know the individual psychology of your wife. If this is the best it will get, ride with it, be greatful that she's 60%, and move on. If you never raise the subject again but continue to skip the baked goods and the bread, there's a reasonable chance you'll end up leading by example so that within a few years she's up to 70% without even knowing it. That would be great, but even if it doesn't happen, they're still doing pretty well.

5
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 17, 2011
at 04:35 PM

1) Remember how peer pressure worked in High School? A bunch of your friends started smoking (tobacco or pot) and then they put pressure on you to do the same. Just get a bunch of Paleo people together and make her feel guilty.

2) Threaten to divorce her if she doesn't "come around" to the CORRECT way of eating.

3) I may be starting a "Paleo" re-education camp this Summer, based upon some of those political re-education camps that the Chinese had during the "Cultural Revolution". Send her to my camp. We have ways of REFORMING the insolent.

4) Or you could just let her BE A FREE PERSON and respect her FREE WILL.

4
24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:44 PM

I've pretty much been paleo since last summer- my boyfriend had been wanting to lose some weight for awhile but just isn't interested in nutrition like me. He'll eat most stuff I make but was still buying his own bread, eating milk and cereal at night, drinking a lot of diet soda, etc. For whatever reason, he pretty much got on board a few months ago! I think I kind of laid off on trying to convert him, and he came around. He's made a few half-hearted attempts to eat better over the last couple years, and this is the first time I've seen him stick with it. We've gotten into Crossfit also; he's lost about 20 lbs and says he feels stronger & also faster in his soccer games. He's still eating a lot of peanut butter and has kinda swapped Diet Coke for low-cal Gatorade, but he's made a lot of improvements & I'm really proud of him :)

If your partner is feeling sick, or is overweight, it's tough to hang in there and watch them just complain about it and keep making things worse worse; I wouldn't be able to do that in the long term. If they are feeling good and not asking for help, I think it's a good idea to take a more hands-off approach and just keep doing your thing.

4
Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 17, 2011
at 03:39 AM

My girlfriend is the same way, and she just graduated with a nutrition science degree ffs... The worst part is that she understands and accepts all of the premises of Paleo, she just doesn't really care.

Our only fights come from diet and Paleo because I'm concerned for her health, but she perceives it as nagginess, and I understand that. I hardly bring it up anymore. Actions speak louder than words; rather, results speak louder than words.

Myself? I'm putting on muscle at a truly exciting rate, I have NO allergies anymore (and since we've been dating for nearly 5 years, she can't help but accept that Paleo has cured my chronically stuffed nose), I'm always energetic, and I'm a damn good cook now. She's doing none of those things. My hope is that when my muscles are so awesome that it's ridiculous, she'll want a little taste of the Paleo Kool-Aid... er, Kombucha-Aid... herself. Honestly, I think it's starting to work to some degree. She wants to go to the gym with me now, and she's starting going to the farmer's markets with me. It's working much better than my "holy shit, you would not believe how much soy is in that Clif bar you're eating" method of sabotaging our relationship.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:48 PM

@L. Peltier -- In part, it's probably due to insecurities, and my bigger muscles might have exacerbated them (no, really!). Neither of us are fat at all, myself about 7% bf, herself, eh, no idea, but she weighs 110 lbs. or so at 5'1". I think maybe she wants some of that tone for herself, and she's starting to realize the insulin isn't helping her subcutaneous fat get out of the way of her muscle, and her 20 minutes on the elliptical only succeeds in forcing her to take a second shower each day.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:29 PM

I'm so glad you figured out not to be pushy about it! It's hard to not comment about things like how nasty the Clif bar is when you are in the super exciting learning about Paleo phase. If/when people want to change they will figure it out. You are an awesome role model for her.

Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:43 PM

Thanks :) Hah, yeah, the super-excited early Paleo phase pissed her off so much. I wouldn't shut up about how I felt. It took me all of nine months to get to the "yes, dear" phase where I just let her food slide, so I don't deserve TOO much credit. Here's to hoping my silence is the right strategy to get through to her...

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:43 PM

Playing "devils advocate" but also from what I have experienced, what are the chances her coming around is due to insecurities?

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:55 PM

Oh no, becker. Be proud that you figured it out. Seriously. Some people are always "THAT GUY" about other people's food choices. It is exciting when you are first learning about it and you want to share. I bet she comes around, at least partially.

3
D7a58323fd9ccb117b31da4ebce374ce

(30)

on May 17, 2011
at 11:41 AM

I made my hubby watch "fat head" and that was it.

2
7f4c64d6caca80c74a6c2d91efa3259b

(831)

on May 17, 2011
at 09:39 AM

Your spouse is 60% paleo - that's a dream situation! My wife is totally against it. "It's wrong", "It's not healthy", "too much fat", "saturated fat is bad for you", "glad when you start eating properly again", and so on are regularly trotted out. Along with the raised eyebrows, sighing and tutting when I'm seen to be using butter, pouring olive oil on things etc.

Thing is, she's a good cook - all fresh stuff, no ready-meals, but I just wish she'd try cutting the grains and sugar stuff. She just doesn't want to know. She is the main cook because of my working hours so my sons are also non-paleo, although the elder one understands the principles of things (he's studying applied chemistry at uni).

I just hope that they exert some influence (the younger one can really kick off if he puts his mind to it!) but, frankly, I'm not overly optimistic about this.

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on May 17, 2011
at 01:54 PM

Is your wife actually having any health issues? If not, then is it really necessary that she change her diet?

As I mentioned elsewhere, my wife has a very non-Paleo diet, but is in excellent health. She also has excellent health and longevity in her family (grandfather lived to his mid-90's, father still runs every day at age 73, etc) and they all eat non-Paleo diets.

Over the years we have determined that we each need very different diets, and each of us would suffer if we were on the other's diet. The Paleo diet is great for me, and it is great to hear all of the success stories here. But I just don't think that the diet is for everyone. Call it body type, or blood type, or ancestry, or what have you, but forcing a diet on someone that doesn't need it is likely to do more harm than good.

It might be a different story if your wife were for example overweight with some of the conditions that can be positively affected by switching to a Paleo diet.

1
91c2e2a35e578e2e79ce7d631b753879

on May 17, 2011
at 01:37 PM

When I changed my diet a year ago, I didn't even bother to try to "convert" my husband or teenage son - I just said, "This is the way I am eating; you can do whatever the #%[email protected] you want" and started looking into local sources of grass-fed beef and pastured pork and poultry. My better half is not the kind of person to just shrug something like that off, so he demanded that I explain why I was changing how I ate so drastically. I tried to shove a copy of Nourishing Traditions and Good Calories, Bad Calories in his face (he eventually read GCBC), but he was having none of that - he wanted ME to explain it. So I did, and the next thing I knew HE was looking at sources of grass-fed beef and we were running to the farmers' market every Saturday.

Going paleo has been led entirely by me; the more I cut NADs out of our diet, the better I felt and the more weight HE lost (my poor old metabolism is just shot, and losing is a long hard battle for me, but one I am more than ready to face). My husband still refuses to call himself "paleo", and says when I do Whole 30 next month, I'll be doing it alone. But I'm willing to bet he'll change his mind. ;) Our son has been great about it, and while he eats crap at his friend's houses has been a really good sport about eating what we eat at home. He is coming to understand that chips and cookies and Pop Tarts and cereal and yes, even good old whole wheat bread, are simply bad for you.

Now, if I could just convince our adult children of that.

1
22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on May 17, 2011
at 01:22 PM

I am probably in the exact situation you are. When I cook she eats Paleo, but if we are out to eat or she stops at a starbucks or something it is out the window. I have found with her and my kids that you get more with honey then you do with vinegar. I would drop it for a while and just bit your lip, even though it is extremely hard. I also bought my wife the book Everyday Paleo and pitched it as more focused for women and families. It also was an opportunity for her to get involved in the kitchen. Since I have done the majority of the cooking for out family for quit some time, my wife has made some comments that she feels like she is not living up to her duties as a wife. So I took that as a clue to get her involved and let her participate in the cooking. Since I gave her the book she has made several paleo meals and I showed her how much I appreciated coming home to a hot meal and how delicious it was. She now seems sincerely excited to plan meals from the book!

To recap: Take the stress off of her by not pressing the issue at every meal and maybe buy her Everyday Paleo to get her excited and involved.

3960d381831b80ad96164f34e2ab6030

(565)

on May 17, 2011
at 07:56 PM

Thanks for this suggestion. I've got one online recipe book, but she doesn't like to search for recipes on the computer. Maybe a real book like that would help. Good idea.

1
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on May 17, 2011
at 11:58 AM

My fiance is not a fan of paleo either and won't listen to a thing I say. I don't think it's feasible to try to convert someone who doesn't want to listen. The best you can do is make really good food that she wants to eat and perhaps over time the need for sweets will lessen. Maybe you could be more high-carb paleo and then if she eats your food there will be no nagging "where's the carbs" body response?

From the responses I've seen here it seems like it's easier for the husband to be converted than the wife...

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 17, 2011
at 07:36 PM

Yeah. That's probably because of the traditional food-preparing role of the female, I guess.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on May 17, 2011
at 01:13 PM

I agree with that.

61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:43 PM

Maybe not easier. I think that women are more often the primary cooks and so control the kitchen to a greater degree. Once you get someone used to eating a certain way (and possibly feeling the difference), it may just become habit to continue the trend. If the spouse who doesn't cook much (usually the husband) tries to change eating habits or take over the kitchen, I think it's possible the primary cook could take offense and passive aggressively reject the change.

1
13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

on May 17, 2011
at 03:08 AM

Just a thought:

  1. make a list of the offending ingredients she uses
  2. look up best 2-3 substitutes for each, complete with recipes
  3. buy lots and lots of the substitutes. 25-lb bags of almond or coconut flour, too many bananas to eat, agave nectar (or Stevia or whatever you decide beats sucrose) by the tub.

She may well be cross at first, but it's human nature to not throw away 25 lb bags of almond flour.

2nd option is to bake yourself :)

13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

(340)

on May 17, 2011
at 05:42 PM

FWIW, Taubes thinks sucrose is worse than fructose, for the interaction b/n fructose and glucose (sucrose being 50% each)

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on May 17, 2011
at 05:15 PM

Seconded. Agave nectar is decidedly worse than sugar.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on May 17, 2011
at 03:44 AM

Egads, watch out for that agave nectar recommendation. It's nearly all (if not all) fructose.

13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

(340)

on May 18, 2011
at 02:03 AM

Y'all made me ask a question

0
61b801de5dc345b557cd4623d4a4f26b

(2682)

on May 17, 2011
at 12:39 PM

I had a small breakthrough with my husband when he remarked that perhaps gluten was, after all, not good to eat. But I still have a long way to go and I'm proceeding by absolutely not telling him what he can and can't eat. He's a grown man who knows I'm eating this way because I think it's healthy and it won't help at all if I start getting "preachy" about it.

We recently both had lab work done and the doctor told him his cholesterol is a little high for his age. I think it freaked him out a little because right after his appointment he had a "healthy" breakfast: an egg-white omelet with turkey bacon and a side of fruit with it. I freaked out a little as well because I was afraid he would be prescribed statins. In this case, I got a little preachy and made sure he understood how against cholesterol meds I am.

It turns out he has hypothyroidism (which apparently can cause higher cholesterol?), so they did not prescribe statins and he doesn't seem to be ordering "healthy" meals anymore.

Considering my labs were perfect, I was hoping he would immediately see more benefit to how I am eating. What he's read and what the doctor has told him though has convinced him hypothyroidism is genetic and there is nothing he can do except take thyroid meds. Le sigh...

0
60199d3a580a4e17969059609e48e678

on May 17, 2011
at 05:56 AM

I am lucky enough to where my hubby eats anything I make, he even stays away from pastas/breads/grains for the most part. However he can't seem to stay away from soda and little Debbie snack cakes... I can't talk to him about the paleo thing because he doesnt find it interesting, he just knows that when he eats at home we are eating paleo.

close enough I guess... shrug

he does admit that he feels better though.

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