My husband isn’t “Paleo”- the emotional side of following the AIP

My husband isn’t “Paleo”- the emotional side of following the AIP

 

The easiest way to change your diet is to “clean out your kitchen” by getting rid of all the foods you don’t want to eat anymore. That way when you reach for a snack you won’t end up grabbing a granola bar. Unfortunately for many of us, getting rid of all the processed food in our houses is not an option. Some of us have roommates, spouses and/or family members who aren’t willing or ready to give up their sandwich bread. Does this mean that making changes in your diet is impossible? Not at all! My husband does not follow the paleo diet. This doesn’t mean he isn’t supportive of the changes I have made for my health, but he simply is not going to give up all his favorite foods just because I no longer eat them. He often arrives at home with fresh baked bread and donuts. He puts sugar on his already sweet papaya and feels like a meal is not a meal without beans and rice. While I often wish that he would “jump on the bandwagon” with me, he is an adult and free to make his own decisions.

 

On the left, Paleo AIP...on the right cookie monster
On the left, Paleo AIP…on the right cookie monster!

 

As most of you know, I follow the autoimmune protocol because I am recovering from severe Crohn’s disease. While many people are able to reintroduce some of the foods that are restricted during the initial phase of the autoimmune protocol, I have not been able to do so thus far. I do not eat: grains of any kind, nuts or seeds, eggs, nightshades, dairy, sugar or sweeteners, legumes, alcohol, or caffeine. The list that I just made could be repeated as a list of my husband’s favorite foods.

When I first started to follow the autoimmune protocol my husband thought that I was A) CRAZY and B) going to starve to death. I kind of agreed, but I was in so much pain that I was willing to try anything. As my symptoms improved my husband started to become more supportive of my diet and began to avoid bringing home some of the items that were hardest for me to keep my mouth off (like cheese). I have to admit, my first months on the autoimmune protocol were full of slip-ups which I now know were greatly hindering my healing process. I would sometimes use a “little bit of butter” and eat aged sheep cheese. I also pretended that eggs were OK and frequently made these delicious plantain pancakes. When I finally fully committed to the autoimmune protocol I realized that these little slip-ups were making a big difference in my health. Now I don’t bend the rules, even for my birthday. My health is worth much more than the ten seconds of joy that an irritating food might give me! Plus just thinking about the days of bloating, pain and discomfort that would ensue is enough to keep me away.

As I have learned more about the value of eating a whole/real foods diet and the negative effects of eating processed food (especially gluten) I no longer see my diet as a means to an end (healing from my autoimmune disease) but rather something I enjoy doing to have a happier, healthier life in general. I have become so passionate about eating good food that I wish everyone would eat like I do! I truly believe that most of our problems (both physical and emotional) could be solved just by eating better. So what about my husband and his evil donuts? It is sometimes hard for me to watch him eat food that I know is unhealthy and damaging, but for the reasons outlined below I am not going to throw a tantrum about it.

 

The foods that I used as an example of what NOT to eat in a previous post? All my husband's snacks!
The foods that I used as an example of what NOT to eat in a previous post? All my husband’s snacks!

 

My husband is an extremely healthy guy. He has never taken antibiotics (or any medication for that matter) and the only time he has seen the inside of a hospital was when I was staying there, and once when a dog bit his leg as a child. He is one of the lucky few who have naturally good digestion and meal etiquette (AKA he chews his food and therefore doesn’t need to do my July challenge). My husband was born and raised in a town in southern Brazil where food was not something that everyone had in abundance. He was taught to be grateful for the food he had and not picky about what he ate. Growing up he mostly ate rice, beans, and fruit from trees around the neighborhood. There was not a lot of extra money lying around to buy chips and pastries. I am willing to bet that his mostly “whole foods” diet and childhood spent playing soccer and marbles in the streets and chasing kites through the nearby fields, provided him with the strong constitution that allows him to get away with eating junk food as an adult (and not get sick or obese as a result).

The food I cook for him, while not “paleo” is as healthy as I can get away with. He usually eats whatever I eat + rice and beans (which I make weekly). The processed treats that he eats are purchased by him. As time goes by I have noticed that he is more likely to try my “weird” food and enjoy it. By slowly changing the food that we have available at mealtimes his habits have changed. I have no intention of forcing him to change his diet, but I hope that by providing the most delicious and nutrient dense food that I can he will feel satiated, happy and healthy. And you can bet your bottom dollar that on the rare occasion he catches a cold and only wants to eat top ramen… I sneak in some bone broth instead of the MSG flavor packet.

 

When I saw that there was no beef in his ramen, I intervened with the bone broth sneak attack
When I saw that there was no beef in his ramen, I intervened with the bone broth sneak attack

 

Having “off-limits” food around can be really hard. I have found that the best way to NOT eat it is by using a trick that I mentioned in my post about what to do when you can’t eat anything.… pretend that it is poison. Don’t give yourself the option of eating off-limits foods, but rather imagine that they are not food at all (in many ways they aren’t). I find this to work really well with packaged foods. It is trickier with rice and beans, which are a healthy choice for some people. Another thing that I have learned about myself with these situations is that having “just a bite” makes it much worse. The minute that Skittle touches your tongue it awakens the dormant demons of food cravings that you might have even forgotten about. This is not a lifestyle that you can halfway embrace, you have to decide to go all the way to fully reap its healing benefits…and I can guarantee, a Skittle is definitely not worth the potential setbacks it can cause.

Trying to force other people to agree with you (in the kitchen or out) is a sure fire way to make them lose interest and resist your suggestions. My plan is to continue to “lead by example.” This has already helped both of my parents, including my dad (who doesn’t like most vegetables) and my pizza loving teenaged sister change from a “healthy” American diet to a paleo/primal template (real, whole foods and no grains except white rice).I hope that my husband will continue to become more open to dietary changes and new foods. Meanwhile I will continue to make the most delicious, nutrient rich foods that I can so that we both stay healthy.

Many of my fellow autoimmune paleo bloggers have successfully switched their family over to paleo and noticed great results (even in their children’s behavior). To hear what their husbands think about both the diet and lifestyle changes, as well as living with someone who suffers from an autoimmune disease I recommend watching this fabulous video:

 

What about you? Does everyone in your household eat the same way that you do? How do you deal with having foods that you can’t eat in the cupboard? Have your families tried new foods because of your diet?

Want some more tips about how I deal with “off limits” foods in my refrigerator and cooking for myself and my non-paleo husband at the same time! You can read my FOLLOW UP POST here 🙂

Note: while my gluten sensitivity is such that having gluten containing foods in the house is not a problem, people with severe gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease may have to be more strict about keeping gluten containing foods out of the house.

24 Responses

  1. The hubster isn’t “paleo” but he agrees with the clean eating principles as much as I do, and that makes things really easy! (His only regular exception to eating clean is his favorite flavor of filled milk chocolate, but I never liked milk chocolate, so no worries there!)

    There is always aged cheese in the house, which is off limits to me, and occasionally there is bread which is the most “dangerous” for me (he never cleans up the crumbs after cutting it and I have glutened myself more than once because of it!).

    He also eats rice and white potatoes, which I can’t, but he doesn’t want them at every meal (only a couple times a month really, and I easily make a sweet potato for myself. Max once a month he has real pasta, but he will also gladly eat zoodles.

    I think I really lucked out with him. He realizes how much my diet affects my health and tries his best to support me. There are times when he gets frustrated, but it happens less and less often.

    P.S. He even asks me to make paleo lunches for him so that he’s eating healthy all day long!

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      Sounds like your husband is a pretty happy camper as long as you feed him!!! I am excited that you were able to talk him into crossfit and looking forward to hearing about how it goes 🙂

  2. I love this reflection! I make my husband rice and beans too! It’s his favourite, although he will eat what I make once in a while.. Except for lamb, fish, and a few other things

  3. I love this reflection! I make my husband rice and beans too! It’s his favourite, although he will eat what I make once in a while.. Except for lamb, fish, and a few other things

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      Thanks for the beautiful response! Haha so sorry that I couldn’t see all of it 🙁 Next time!

  4. […] week I wrote a post about my non-paleo husband and the difficulties I have faced both in and out of the kitchen as I cope with being constantly […]

  5. I’m from Brazil, like your husband, and I also think a meal is not a meal without rice and beans. I’ve been living in the US for almost 21 years, and I eat rice and beans almost daily. A sandwich for me is a snack, and not a meal. I don’t eat processed foods, but Brazilians eat a lot of bad foods too.

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      Hi Denise! You are right, the traditional Brazilian foods are pretty healthy…. but many Brazilians eat way too many coxinhas 🙂

  6. With multiple AI issues, I eat *strict* AIP (like you). My husband is game to comply – and he has the option of eating whatever he wants when he’s away from home 🙂 We have very very little non-compliant food in the house. I try to have the best and healthiest stuff on hand but make sure to have regular (non AIP) paleo stuff in the house (and try to choose stuff that *I’m* not tempted by). I am lucky that my husband is willing to support me whole-heartedly (he’s seen me at my sickest and it’s no picnic)!

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      That is so awesome that your husband is so supportive Lisa! I think you are right, knowing how we will feel if we eat “off limits” foods makes everyone more supportive 🙂

  7. Another great post, Mika! Just heading on to FB to share the link now. My fellah has a long-term love affair with popcorn, so our house is never without it; however, it presents absolutely no temptation for me because, goodness gracious, you know and I both know what those kernels could do to an inflamed colon! Overall, he eats AIP with me at home. But when we’re out together or he’s out alone, it’s a SAD free for all for him! LOL

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      Hahaha oh my goodness I totally get you with the popcorn thing. No way I am eating that painful stuff 🙂 I am hoping my husband will keep on slowly adapting!

  8. Hi Mika, what a great post. I’m so lucky in the sense that we’re all doing the AIP together in our family but I completely appreciate where your husband’s coming from. You never know, he may well convert in time .. men are a funny species, they just like to think things are their own idea! Thanks for the link and your post, I shared it on FB today x

  9. Mika, your posts just keep getting better and better! I’m so fortunate that my husband eats paleo along with me. He didn’t at first (although he would eat what I cooked) but then he started to see how healthy I was becoming, and it made him curious. He was already a healthy guy, but it really took him to the next level! I agree that your husbands childhood probably had a lot to do with how healthy he is now! My brother and sister in law live with us right now and don’t eat paleo, but our food is way more delicious, so there’s no temptation 😉

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      Your food always looks so amazing!!!!! Your brother and sister in law might end up switching over 🙂 My dad and brother are visiting this week and they have been loving all of the AIP/Paleo food that I cook. My husband is trying more interesting foods now too….who knows maybe he will eventually “convert.” Looks like we are going to be heading to the states for a while next year so maybe we will finally meet up and your husband can talk my husband into eating paleo 🙂

  10. I’m so happy I stumbled upon your website! I really identify with you and your posts!! I also live with family who aren’t paleo while on the AIP! It’s difficult! My husband eats 70% paleo but he likes his packaged snacks – biscuits and chips, sweets, etc. He seems supportive of my radical diet at times but at other times, I sense he disapproves, especially because it can get quite expensive buying lots of fresh vegetables, fruit and good quality meat. Having teenage sons who are actually “anti-paleo” and say “ew” every time I make a treat also makes it hard. They generally eat whatever supper I make and it’s like 80% paleo. I try not to make pasta much at all – stick to rice and potatoes for them. And I do slip in the bone broth without them knowing! It’s pretty straightforward but sometimes I worry about their long-term health. Thanks for your post. Honest, real and touching. I agree that you can’t force your nutritional views upon another person. You can only set an example.

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      It sounds like you are doing your best to keep your family healthy and happy 🙂

  11. Shannon Klein

    Yes, my husband and I are about the same! He thought I was crazy & starving myself and has slowly come on board. It was incredibly difficult for me to overcome sugar cravings so I made a cupboard in the corner of the kitchen that I rarely used previously that was “his” cupboard and I never went in there. Same with the fridge- I put all his things in the butter cubby on the door with a lid that isn’t see through and I just never looked in there (that’s where he’s hide the cheese and any other “poison” that would fit). Now gradually over two years he has come around! He still eats dairy but prefers high quality, small batch locally sourced products. He still eats grains but typically white rice or fresh bread from the local bakery. I am celiac so he uses his own cutting board and knife and hand washes them separately.

    The biggest thing for him to come around and become this cooperative was seeing the changes in me. My chronic pain had made me into a monster to live with so I was very confrontational, pushy & demanding at the start. Now with feeling so much better, more balanced & stable I’m able to live and let live and just focus on doing my own thing that helps me. And so he sees these changes and realizes it’s working. He doesn’t tempt me or “poison” me anymore.

    So yup, I agree with 100% of what you wrote!

    • Slightly Lost Girl

      Love this Shannon! I am glad your husband “came around” and that you are feeling better. Storing food separately was a big one for me too.

  12. […] If you want to read a little more about how I deal with non-AIP foods in my house I have posted about it on my blog. […]

  13. […] if that’s not an option, Slightly Lost Girl has some great articles on how to live with someone who continues to eat the foods you can no longer […]

  14. Wow. I admire your trying to be so “kind” with your husband’s different than you eating habits. I took a different tact. First I cleared ALL the non AIP foods out of my home. I gave all the non-comliant itms to a friend for her needy daughter (with 4 children and a husband with Lupus) and the local food bank. I did this for me as I would be tempted to cheat otherwise. Since I do most of the cooking, I told my 71-year-old husband that I was cooking AIP only. He was free to cook something different for himself if he so choose but honestly I knew he would not as he is spoiled by me doing 99% of the cooking. He might put salsa on top of something I cooked or add pepper, catsup and the like but those small things don’t bother me and I am not tempted by that. He very occasionally makes an egg omlette with peppers and tomaotes (which I deeply crave) but I can manage that experience because it is not more than once a week or every two weeks at most. He used to cheat a lot, hide snacks, candy bars and such foods in the pole barn and in his truck until he was diagnosed with insulin resistance after a lifetime of heavy snacking and sugar eating, soda pop drinking etc. He was never sick but started to get highly confused and forgetful like he was in the early stages of ALZ. This impacted my life 100% because I could not leave him alone and had to watch his every more. Then he finally got scared enough to stop ALL of his unheathy eating. His health and our life together is much better now. It may not seem like it now but here is a real connection about how he eats and what happens to our life together by his food choices. If he is sick, I take him to the doctor, if he has surgery my personal life stops and I take care of him so my life is impacted at every level by his personal choices, so I am thankful he has made this “healthier” choice. It was really hard to give up all of my favorites, to stop going to yoga or to my friend’s house because I could not leave him alone.

  15. My husband is the anti healthy eating guy [also quite healthy I think due to having good food growing up.] He does somewhat support how I need to eat, in that he goes along with my buying all that healthy food, that is very expensive & barters with people around town to get me more varieties of wild game, that I can’t buy [I can’t eat beef or turkey & very limited on chicken & pork.] My best defense against temptation is making my version of things. If he’s having candy or cakes they are left around the house where I see them every time I walk by & they drive me nuts with cravings after a while, so I make my raw chocolates if I’m cheating [which I try not to do very often, because my stomach pays] or I make apple or Banana muffins / mango blueberry cobbler, etc… with my ingredients so I can have a treat without cheating [I use Cassava flour, tigernut flour, and arrowroot powder.] My husbands stated rule of thumb is “if I can eat it, he doesn’t want it”, it doesn’t go for everything, but most. My younger son, when home [especially when his dad isn’t] gladly tries & likes most of what I eat – to where I only have to cook one dinner most of the time when he’s here “yay!” Pretty much, if I make the family spaghetti I have nomato sauce & zoodles or Miracle noodles, etc… It’s difficult to stay on track sometimes, but making my equivalents is my survival plan & really helps me with cravings!

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