Q: From what I gathered (just from reading a few of your posts), it is and has been for awhile just you and your daughter living under one roof and so therefore, you have ABSOLUTE control on what comes in and what doesn’t in your household and in your kitchen to keep any and all temptations/triggers (i.e. goldfish LOL ) at bay. My question is, how will this change once you and your fiance share a household? Surely, you may have to compromise on having certain things “allowed” in the household that were previously banned…presuming that he may or may not be as health conscious as you. I ask, because I often struggle with that balance of maintaining a healthy life style and more importantly the discipline with sticking to it when my mate is not or doesn’t care to eat as healthily as I do because he doesn’t need to be (in his eyes). I am a big girl (I am 5″8 and 228lbs) and my live in boyfriend is 6″4 and about 185. He can literally eat anything and not gain an ounce, he isn’t as invested into eating as healthily as I am….because he feels he doesn’t need to. He is in pretty good shape and has been an athlete all of his life….doesn’t have to work out much and can literally eat whatever he wants and not gain….unfortunately for me that is not the case….so I am very interested in knowing if you are currently in the situation with you living with a significant other who isn’t as stringent as you nor does he have the desire to be when it comes to his daily eating regimen and where as before when it was just you and your daughter, how do the two of you compromise where the two of you can co-exist and co-habitat harmoniously (as it would be selfish for me to expect/demand/control my SO to eat as I do indefinitely or for an unnecessarily long period of time) when or if the two of you have very different eating habits/regimen?
A: Y’all don’t play on these questions, do you? Jeez.
The mister and I are, in fact, sharing a household now and while I compromise, it’s not as much as you might think.
I kind of started off by swindling him – whenever I cooked for him, I cooked some of my very best dishes. I’m talking grilled wings, chicken biryani, roasted tomato pizza… everything. I did all the cooking in the beginning, and he really enjoyed it. I cook every night anyway, so it didn’t make a difference to me that I’d have to add another plate to the table.
After a while, we started to talk more about part of what I do for a living, which is this blog. We talked about what life was like for me at above 300lbs, we talked about what my pregnancy was like (which is where I most clearly remember my binging habits) and we talked about what my “recovery” was like. We talked about what I keep in the house now, what I use to “snack” (well, when I used to snack) on, and what my indulgences look like. We talked about my food addiction, what I think “success” looks like in overcoming it and how far along I thought I was. We talked about my relationship with food, and whether or not this meant I lived on rice cakes and other cardboard-esque “delights.”
Surprisingly (or not), he was extremely supportive and understanding. He actually appeared intrigued by the fact that all the good food I’d been cooking for him meant he was eating healthily. In fact, I told him – in advance – that my fried chicken recipe just might make him put a ring on it, and that I only would make it for him twice a year because it’d wind up having him give me all his money… and I can’t have him running around broke. That… was win #1.
Don’t get me wrong – there were a few hiccups in the road, namely in regards to sweets. I don’t keep baked sweets in the house. For one, they’re usually far too sweet with no flavor… so they’re usually pretty disgusting. For two, the ingredients list looks atrocious. I’d rather not be “tricked” into liking something. So, I told him straight up – when he wanted cookies, he could either buy them and eat them that day, outside of the house… or I could bake them myself. At bare minimum, I always have the ingredients to make icebox cookies in the house, and if he wanted something more he’d have to buy it. And before he had the opportunity to complain, I reminded him – if my dinners are great, my baked goods are phenomenal. He obliged.
I don’t keep ice cream in the house, either. He balked at that, too. However, I told him it wasn’t because ice cream is som terrible thing.. it’s just because I live around the corner from the holy grail of frozen delicacies and some fancy pants ice cream couldn’t really compare to it anymore. I took him there and, well, that was that. When you show people what the best looks like, it’s not that difficult to convince them that their “favorite” is, in fact, no comparison.
We talked about cleaning up some of his favorite dishes, we talked about some of his cultural delicacies and some of what I grew up on. We talked about everything. I’m a pretty laid back person, and I’m really go-with-the-flow… except for this. And smoking. That’s a biggie, too, but he’s equally bothered by that one so no worries, there.
We talked… a lot. For us – for any relationship, really – I think talking is important. One of the things I learned the hard way is that not talking is pretty dangerous. To be a bit corny and cliche, but if you’re not talking, it means someone isn’t being heard. If you’re worried, if you’re afraid, if you’re scared… my partner is the one I go to help me figure out how to assuage those feelings. That means that, sometimes, I’m oversensitive and other times I’m terribly nonchalant. As long as I’m not being one more than I am the other, I’m tolerable.
That being said, I think it’s different for my situation (introducing someone new to my house and how we do things here) than the one presented in the question (trying to change how we do things for someone who already lives there.) It’s also interesting that, while he may not be able to gain any weight, there’s no general concern for any of the other issues that come from just generally eating bad, poor quality food. Being thin isn’t a shield that protects you from these kinds of things.
In my mind, if you have two people who have to live together and are on separate ends of the spectrum on an issue, both parties have to move to the center. You want him to eat cleaner? Cook good food – dishes he enjoys. He refuses to kick a sweets habit? Bake the sweets for him, and keep them wrapped. I used to bake chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, wrap them in little candy bags with a ribbon and put them in my mister’s laptop bag. He didn’t feel deprived, and actually felt like he was “cheating.”
So.. if I were you, what would I do? I’d cook. Every day. For about a week. I’d bake a batch of cookies, wrap them up with a bow and leave them for him as he’s returning home. After 7 days of successful dishes goes by, I’d sit him down and talk to him. Tell him that you admire his fitness, and that you want to work towards your own. Tell him that every meal you’ve cooked for him has been a “healthy” one that’ll help you both stay healthy while also helping you lose the weight that’s been bugging you. Tell him you look forward to being eye candy on his arm, and you look forward to being and feeling healthier for you. Tell him that you’re afraid for your health, that you worry about your ability to prevent yourself from gaining any more weight and that, because you need to make changes, you worry about his ability to compromise for the both of you. Tell him you’ve been doing a ton of reading about food, how to cook, how to eat healthier and how to eat in a way that both tastes deliciously as well as makes sure you don’t get the high blood pressures, diabetes and everything you see around you. It’s important to be straight up about it – don’t be passive aggressive – and it’s also important to stick to your guns. While people insist upon harping on and on about will power, I will remind you that if you are someone who has never had much success in using will power… it is an uphill climb to actually develop it. If he brings that up, tell him that. It’s important that he think about that, too.
I find that people love to dig in their heels when it comes down to changing parts of their lives in order to accommodate someone else… but I’m also learning that a big part of long term relationships is, in fact, compromising so that your partner can thrive and be a better person. Seeing how someone approaches compromise can tell you a lot about their ability to handle long-haul situations, I think, so I guess I’d also be mindful of that as well. It wouldn’t be the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it’d definitely be a strike.
And, just to be sure, I asked my mister your question… and his answer? “I think if she has certain things that she feels she absolutely can’t have in the house without eating, she needs to let him know that. She needs to say ‘fine, I can understand if you don’t want to do this with me, I’d appreciate it if you did but if not, okay…but there are a few things that I feel like I really can’t have in the house’ and list them for him. I feel like, really, that should be enough. If the person cares about you, they should want to help you reach your goals.”
All that is to say, notice how much talking went on between my partner and I, and notice how much talking I suggested for your partner and you. You really can’t get very far without it, so spend a week playing in the kitchen and cooking your best, and figuring out the best way to convince him to take the plunge. Both you and your partner’s bodies will be thankful for it in the long run!