How to get your husband to eat real food… An honest letter to the wives, from a husband who used to eat Doritos and Hot Pockets for lunch and wash it down with an ice-cold fountain Coke, but now enjoys a healthy meal made with real food prepared by the wife… so long as it doesn’t have beets. My first letter was to the husbands, but ladies, this one is for you. Yes, it is possible to get your husband to eat real food, although admittedly, it might be difficult. We men can sometimes be stubborn. Written by Mr. Crumbs.
So your inner “crunchy mama” is screaming to come out (disclaimer: I didn’t know what crunchy mama meant until about a month ago) and you want to get your family eating real food. You’ve read amazing blogs such as Kitchen Stewardship, The Nourishing Home, Shalom Mama (love the bus!)… and my wife’s blog too. Now you want to do what these great influencers do on a daily basis: get away from the processed, unpronounceable, fake, food-like products you are all too familiar with.
You’ve thought about grinding your own wheat (and doing it without a mill), baking bread, starting a garden, make your own bbq sauce, bake better pizza than the local pizzeria, buy the most awesomist blender in the world (honest opinion there) and chug green smoothies in the morning. You want to scream at Monsanto, drink raw milk, run from anything containing GMO, sell your place in the city and run to the hills – buying a gzillion acres, with a tractor, chicken,goats and cows and just live it up.
I should warn you that some of these extreme ideas, become less extreme, the more extreme you get.
Problem: Getting your husband to eat real food.
While most of the above sounds like a great idea, your husband may not exactly want to part with his Starbucks routine, the weekly lunch out with co-workers or even give up certain fried foods. The thought of starting the day without cereal, or having lunch without french fries – uhh, no.
We weren’t always healthy.
I don’t know the life stories of the bloggers mentioned above, but I can sure tell you that Mrs. Crumbs and I didn’t start off with a so-called healthy diet. When we lived back in Texas, Friday nights were either Pizza Hut or Mexican – mostly for the chips and salsa. We traveled often too, and on one of our road trips, we made it a point to eat only at Arby’s. Not anymore.
Our “journey” towards real food on a real budget started several years ago. First, we were just plain broke. Second, I made the comment to my wife that “we’re always eating out of boxes.”
It was that comment, that catapulted Mrs. Crumbs into developing a better understanding of diet and nutrition.
When she first found out the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, I lost all six boxes of my favorite devils food cake mix Mrs. Crumbs had stockpiled in the cabinet. That very same night!
Note from Mrs. Crumbs: Notice that HE was the one who made the comment that started the journey… not me. Any actions resulting from me trying to abide by his request to no longer eat out of boxes are out of my control. 😉
Why YOU want to eat real food.
You love your family. Period. You want to nourish those around you and provide them with the nutritional building blocks that will benefit them most. Additionally, it seems to be an inner desire of many wives to recreate some of those awesome dishes on Pinterest, turning your kitchen into a placing of healthy dining, rather than the result of instead of some gritty, greasy, corporately owned chain.
For your husband’s sake, take baby steps.
Men fix stuff. In our minds, everything should work the way it’s designed. If it doesn’t work, fix it. If you can’t fix it – chuck it.
Simple things like not eating for ten days or removing a mole with apple cider vinegar may seem extreme, but challenges like this are easier for us because we either: a) have to endure a hardship for a specified period of time, or b) endure a little bit of pain for possible reward. In either case, we start because we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
For us men, switching diets is hard. We love our French fries, hot pockets, coffee and croissants… and soda. Did I mention soda? We are creatures of habit. We like what we like, so don’t change it.
One step at a time…
That’s the only way my wife was able to successfully convert me to a real food lifestyle, and quite possibly, the only way you’ll be able to as well.Let’s break this down into a few practical ways in which you can “baby step” your husband into real food. And yes, if you have a semi-devious side, this is where it canactually benefit your marriage.
6 Practical Ways To “Baby-Step” Your Husband to Eat Real Food
1. The Favorite Meal
If your husband is anything like me, or my co-workers, or brother in laws – he has one or two go-to meals that he always goes to (like clockwork). For me, it’s burrito’s or couscous.
Here’s what you do: Find the best re-creation of his favorite food online – find the recipe for it with the highest number of review stars – and re-create the dish. If he doesn’t like it as much as his “go-to” place, continue trying to make this dish, or something similar, until you’ve beat out the competing restaurants.
Once you have his favorite meal down – you have his heart.
2. The Gadget
Do you know how we ended up with a Blendtec blender? I’m a sucker for gadgets. Mrs. Crumbs had been hinting at wanting a high powered blender for several years, but I was too cheap to take the plunge…
… until we went to Costco.
I love Costco. The only place where you can buy a soft-top surfboard, mountain bike and groceries – all in the same trip!
So we’re at Costco, and Blendtec had a representative demonstrating the features of their blenders. Everything was fine and dandy until the man with the microphone leaned over to me and whispered:
“This is the blender that can blend an iPhone.”
Boom. Sold. Blender in cart.
In case you’re wondering how a gadget can get your husband on board with real food: A health conscious gadget means health conscious smoothies and meals. Trust me, if he’s the one spending over $200 on a blender, he’s going to want some pretty amazing things to happen.
Get him on board with a gadget and whip up early morning smoothies that rock his taste buds (if the gadget is a blender). If it’s a food processor, start chopping. If it’s a stand mixer, start baking.
Whatever his magic gadget it, the result will be the creation of a healthy habit over time.
3. The Bait and Switch
Ok, here’s where your mischievous side comes out. I’m not saying be dishonest, but… sneak healthy foods into his meals. Disguise the goods! Over time, add more and more of something until it becomes routine. If he doesn’t ask what’s in it… well, you may not want to tell him. If he wants to know what’s in it, say “You may not wanna know.”
I hated kefir.
But over time, Mrs. Crumbs added a little bit at a time to my smoothies, increasing the dosages so that I slowly became accustomed to the taste.
Guess what. Now I drink kefir daily. I’ve learned that when I drink a smoothie or eat something strange, I don’t ask what’s in it. I just tell her if something didn’t taste quite right.
And more often than not, she just nods her head and says “Hm-m.”
4. The Scare Tactic
While your husband reaches for his favorite processed food, casually mention the dangers of some of the ingredients in the package. Using words like plastic, inflammation, acid reflux and/or laboratory will usually do the trick.
For us, high fructose corn syrup was the enemy and thus was the first substance banned from our house.
5. Try New Things
Sounds easy, but it’s not. Consider joining a CSA since you’ll be forced to try new produce. Rather than letting it go to waste, there’s a good chance your husband may give it a try.
6. Take Hints
Starting on the road towards real food with your spouse isn’t an easy road. It’s even harder for us men, who “like what works” and what we’re accustomed to.
But don’t give up.
As you introduce new foods into your diets, take hints. If your husband embraces the item, then by all means make it again. However, if he indicates that it wasn’t his favorite, try something else. Consider starting with real foods that you know he likes, and then branch into some of the more questionable foods.
Above all, be patient. It took my wife 2-3 years. And I still don’t like beets.
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What are your biggest obstacles in starting a real food journey with your family ?
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gail lynn jones
The problem with a spouse who will not take care of themselves is you will at some point you have to take care of them. When people eat crappy they get sick and their love ones do the nursing. My mother nursed my sick father for over seven years. It was horrible to watch. My dad suffered from strokes, he did not have high blood pressure nor was he overweight. It just makes me sick when people become nothing but a burden to their family due to terrible life choices. My husband is doing the same and is at high risk for heart disease.
Great lessons Mr. Crumbs. I have not always been a food warrior but I have always had what would be considered a healthy diet. My first battle with my hubby was with soda so I started making kombucha. I put a bit more sugar in the second ferment than I would have liked to, but it made more “fizz” which is what he wanted. He has given up the soda. The bigger challenge is the two go to dishes that he just can’t let go of. Get this – “thanksgiving dinner” and “fried chicken”. I can’t do thanksgiving every month because it involves a giant bird, stuffing (he likes plain white corn bread as the base and he likes it runny, not stiff). The bird is too expensive even though I could get several meals out of it because it requires a large investment up front and no one else in the house will eat the stuffing. I have not found a good alternative to fried chicken, at least any that he will accept as fried chicken. This is a man whose taste buds can tell the difference between “catsup” (if you remember seeing that in the grocery store) and “ketchup”, and believe me there is a difference. I have been sneaking healthy subs in for 6 years. He will eat them because they are presented as part of the meal, but after a couple of days of just a good vegetable prepared in a healthy way, he is looking for French fries and fried chicken. He will eat the healthy goods, tell me they were good, but in a day or two he is looking for fried chicken and fried potatoes or mashed potatoes with a jar of gravy, and I make some darned good from scratch gravy which is one of the things I did learn from my mom even though I hated gravy as a child (I didn’t like my liver soaked in it). I have given up telling him about the dangers because I have begun to feel like I am a nag. I have even had a couple of real winners, one was “Keema” which he really likes I found the recipe online and it has great ingredients, is healthy and inexpensive to make (I will sub ground turkey or chicken if I can’t find grass fed beef at the right price). I tried not to make it more than once a month, but the last time I made it he wasn’t even interested. He is unhappy if I make a smoothie and does not give him any, but I will make one for him and find it still in the fridge when I get home in the evening, no matter how sweet, green or otherwise. It is a conundrum. I feel like I am in the same boat with Brenda. I am nearly 60 now, was also a home school mom and had the same sorts of issues along the way. My darlings are all adults now and have followed my eating habits, not my husband’s so I guess it has not been a total loss
I have been struggling with getting my husband/kids on board for many years. It’s really very discouraging. I’m not the best cook in the world and with homeschooling 6 children, there wasn’t a lot of time to learn to be creative in the kitchen. Besides time, however, money is a big factor. By the time my husband buys all the junk or just unhealthy foods he insists upon having, there is no money left for organic, grass-fed, or otherwise healthy food. He has to have sugar in all his pasta, soups, salsa, everything almost, and he sneaks it in whatever I cook, if he can. I used to grind my wheat and bake bread, make pancakes, etc. but now with all the gluten intolerance I have stopped, just in case my sons’ skin problems, etc. are from allergies. My husband is fat and unhealthy, but he won’t stop bringing the junk into the house & eating it and feeding it to my sons. It’s been a real struggle, but the money is the biggest struggle because I could try all the above suggestions, if I could just afford the good foods.
Hi Brenda! I’m so sorry that you’re struggling with getting your family on board with real foods. I know it’s difficult, and can be defeating when you feel you’re trying so hard without much success. Have you tried talking to your husband about his eating habits, and seeing if he’d be willing to let you cook without added sugar or meals from scratch? I’d start with his favorite dish, and try to make it so that he adores it – but keep it real food without additives or sugar. Then start with another one and grow from there. Sometimes a simple heart to heart conversation about our health in general is all it takes to get the ball rolling.
Hang in there Brenda – don’t give up! Even if it seems you’re talking to a brick wall, those words are getting heard. 🙂
We’re going on 8 years of eating real food in our house, and though my husband agrees on all of the health points of eating real food, he still won’t budge from fast food everyday, processed food snacking, giving my children these snacks, encouraging my kids to go eat out at every opportunity, and drinking TONS of soda.
Where is that letter for husbands? Maybe that would help. 😊
Thank you! This is the encouragement I needed to try again to change our eating habits. Hubby is diabetic and although he knows he shouldn’t be eating certain things…Anyway. I’m going to take your suggestions and encouragement and start over 🙂 One question, what is a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture. Basically a ‘surprise’ box of produce from a local farm(s) that you get on a weekly basis. I wish you the best of luck with your husband AmyJo! I know it’s hard sometimes, but just keep going. Even small changes are still changes!
Here you go Megan!
I had to laugh the whole way through this as it is my husband and I to a “T”. I’ve been wanting to get our whole family into clean eating, I’m about 60% there. We tried Paleo for one month and then I dropped it back to just clean eating and real food….and amazingly none of the kids were sick for the entire winter which was unheard of for every past year. Since my husband came back from deployment I tried to stick to the same way but he wanted all his “bad” foods because he missed them while overseas….I reluctantly let him have it feeling back for him…..it’s been 2 months now and I’ve put on so much weight because all the bad stuff has crept back in. He wants to do the “real food” but with the bad stuff ontop….lol….I”ll make a meal from scratch with lots of veggies and grassfed meat and he’ll top it with sour cream, cheese, ketchup and get a soda on the side….or i’ll pack him a big salad and make him a hot meal for lunch and he’ll stop in for a donut and starbucks for a snack….baby steps right….Thanks for the tips….one thing I have noticed is that my husband does not like to take advice from me…it doesn’t matter how much research I give him or facts, he will however come back from a trip and tell me “Um we can’t eat high fructose corn syrup any more, so and so celebrity, dr oz or some TV documentary said it was bad” ….I usually just sigh and say “yes dear, good idea”. Love this post from the husband’s perspective. My husband hated the smell of Kombucha and Kefir, so I stopped making it…..he asked me to start making it again….lol
Yeah, I guess its a guy thing. Mine will not listen to anything I say either. I can’t count how many times I have given good solid research driven info only to have it disregarded and then hear it was a good idea because some guy mentioned it to him and didn’t even say why it was so. Even then he still doesn’t give up the bad stuff. I just keep doing what I know to do and try to keep the budget in the green, no pun intended 🙂
This is my husband and me. He read Joel Salatin’s book and made a few comments. Then I went crazy. He bought me a food processor to make my own flour. He also refused to drink kefir, but has some almost daily now. He eats cauliflower “rice” and so many other sneaky foods. And today he ate fermented beets and tolerated them for the 1st time!
Wow! That’s amazing news Sarah! Your comment about the kefir is so funny. I wonder if it’s engrained in the “husband” gene. 😉
Gadgets are great – my Mr loves smoothies so he’s the one that bought it for our 5-year-anniversary. Also – telling him the research is huge for him. Once I shared more about Splenda (which was our coffee sweetener of choice) he didn’t want it in the house! We switched to stevia but he doesn’t like it so he now uses monkfruit. But seriously once he knows something I can’t get away with eating it myself LOL He will often ask me “what does Katie say about XYZ?” 😉
Ha! My husband used to do the same thing! Now he expects me to do my own research, lol. 😉
Thank you! My struggle with my husband is the fact that he feels he is as healthy as a horse after his 40+ years of having “always eaten this way…” And by “this way,” I mean all the worst that us crunchy folk are aware of, especially non-organic produce. My struggle is getting him to understand that, yes, he may have grown up on non-organic foods, but now the chemicals used are more and worse than those they used 30 years ago when we were kids! Thank you for giving me ideas to try!
You’re most welcome Lisa! It’s hard to overcome those who think because nothing is wrong now, that they’re super healthy, but all the little decisions we make take their toll at some point in time. And as you said, food today isn’t the same as it used to be!
I have friends who don’t like beets, but love them in this recipe. I thought I would share in case you want to try it.
Raw Beet Salad
3 medium sized beets (weighted ¾ pound), peeled, rinsed, shredded
2 medium tart apples, rinsed, cored, shredded
2 medium sized carrots, peeled, rinsed, shredded
½ cup walnuts, toasted, then chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. mustard
2 tbsp. finely chopped shallot
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tsp. honey
1 – 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Toss the shredded vegetables and walnuts with the dressing.
Thanks for the recipe Pamela! I’m only missing a couple ingredients, and I can easily third this recipe for a test run. I appreciate you sharing it with me! 🙂
This is so funny, because it is the opposite way for us. My husband was raised on a macrobiotic diet. One of our first fights as newlyweds was over whether cold tofu with tamari sauce and snap peas counted as dinner (I said, no way, tofu is not food, he said Kraft dinner and soda are not food.) He complains if we have meat too many days in a row and consistently requests more vegetables. He is 6’5″ and althetic, so he eats A LOT, he just wants it to be primarily beans and vegetables. Over 13 years of marriage, I have come around to his way of thinking, but it definitely took some doing on his part!
Ha! That is funny Tarynkay! I’m with you on the Tofu, but with him on the Kraft dinner, lol. 😉 I wonder how many other wives are the same flip-flopped boat as you!
Kelly @ The Nourishing Home
This is such GREAT advice. I was laughing and nodding my head in agreement. as I read this wonderful post! I will definitely be sharing it LOTS! I know it will help so many families and hopefully inspire unity and teamwork as families strive to live healthier. (And thank you for the kind shout out too!) Blessings, Kelly
Thanks Kelly, for your encouragement and sharing! Helping others was the goal of this post, and we don’t want wives to give up the fight – even if it’s sometimes an uphill battle, lol. 🙂
Mr. Crumbs’ advice about trying new things really hit home with me because it has been my biggest battle with my husband. He hated trying new things. So we made an agreement that he would try anything I make at least once. If he really hates it, then I toss the recipe. If he just dislikes it, then he lets me know what he didn’t like about it and I’ll try to rework it more to his liking. Last week, I started to pass up a recipe, thinking he would instantly hate it. He reminded me that we’re supposed to be trying new things so I made it and now he wants me to make it on a regular basis. Looks like the battle is over.
That’s AWESOME news Aishah! How neat that it’s your husband reminding you to try new recipes! I really like the compromise that you guys came up with. I think that’s great advice for any other wives looking to slowly bring their husbands around!