Seeking Support From Your Significant Other

I have heard this topic discussed quite a bit in recent weeks and want to share my story because I think it might be a familiar one.

I had been doing Crossfit for about 6 months when I decided to eliminate gluten from my diet.  I quickly saw the benefits to my digestion, but my husband saw it as a major annoyance.  He didn’t really even know what gluten was.  He only knew that it meant that it was much more difficult for us to chose a restaurant or agree on groceries.

When I made my shift to a full paleo diet, I made a lot of the mistakes that many paleo newbies make. I ate too low carb and I frequently skipped meals because I couldn’t find a paleo option. One night I even ate only bacon for dinner because I didn’t plan ahead and it was what we had.  Then I’d binge eat nachos on the weekend because I was basically starving myself during the week.

I provided our daughter with paleo food, that was fine with him.  However, he certainly wasn’t going to do the same.  We had major fights about his food choices  (and consequently hers and we both dug in hard.  His argument was that she ate better than most of the kids he saw at school.  Mine argument was that the Standard American Diet (SAD) wasn’t much of a comparison.  I think the low point was when he took her to the “Pancake Store” (McDonald’s) and told her not to tell me.

We were dietary adversaries instead of a team.

Things have gotten significantly better over time.  He doesn’t eat a paleo diet, but he is supportive of mine.  I know that we could have gotten to this point more quickly, and changing my approach could have made all of the difference.

Here are a few things I wish I would have done when I started:

  1. Set priorities and be willing to make compromises.  Now that I have been doing this for awhile, I know that gluten is a never food for me.  It is sometimes easier for us to find a gluten free option than it is to find a paleo option at a restaurant.  For example, my husband loves pizza, but he can handle only eating it every other month.  Gluten free pizza is far from a top pick of mine, but it saves him an extra trip to another restaurant if I am willing to make this compromise.  In turn, he has been much more willing to compromise on his end.  I have recently added things like white rice and potatoes into the rotation.  For some, this is a paleo no-no.  For us, it make this a sustainable lifestyle.
  2. Don’t be in a rush.  A 30 day strict, squeaky clean paleo diet isn’t going to completely change your health.  And while the occasional gluten free waffle might slow down your progress a tad (but probably not), if you are able to find a more balanced approach you are more likely to stick to this lifestyle.  It shouldn’t feel like torture, and you should learn to eat well without feeling deprived.  If you take this approach, you will be less likely to freak out when your husband surprises you with tacos when you were planning on sitting down to a strict paleo meal.
  3. Make it easy.  If your significant other didn’t choose this lifestyle AND it comes with a bunch of extra work, it is more likely to cause resentment. We now have a handful of restaurants locally where I can find choices I feel great about.  My husband now knows what I would likely order at each place.  I could have made it easier for him at the beginning by doing my research before I started mandating paleo only meals.  Even better, I could have made a list of places and options for my husband when he wanted to surprise me by picking up dinner.  Also, I have taken on almost all of the meal planning and prep for the family.  As he has figured out the types of things I like to make, he slowly started to take some of that back on.
  4.  Consider their likes.  My husband will probably  never eat broccoli.  Putting it into a stir fry means there is no way in hell he will eat it.  If I stir fry some broccoli on the side, we can both happily eat an almost identical meal.  Additionally, I strongly suggest getting Cassy Joy Garcia’s Fed and Fit book.  She has developed many of the recipes with her husband in mind.  My husband has loved everything that I have made from this book.    

I think this would have helped make this transition so much easier for us.  What are some things that helped you maintain a paleo lifestyle with a non-paleo significant other?

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Wednesday: My Second Meal Prep Day

A lot of people have success doing all of their meal prep on Sunday.  I have found that when I do that, we are mostly out of food by Thursday.  Is it possible that my family’s appetite directly correlates with the amount of food that’s in the fridge.  Make more = eat more?

I also am one of the many people who struggle with eating well on the weekends.  I plan my meals to the most minute detail Monday through Thursday, but wrongly assume that when I have more time on the weekends, that it will be easier to make decisions.  In reality, my lack of planning through the weekends has made it easy for my family to land face first into a plate of nachos.  (Mmmhhh….Nachos!)

So, more recently I have made Wednesday my second meal prep day.

Why Wednesday?

I try to always go to the gym on Monday nights because it feels so good to start my week off right.  My daughter attends Crossfit Kids classes on Tuesday and Thursday, so these are guilt free gym nights.  That makes Wednesday my most logical rest day.  Wednesday is also the day that our local grocery store releases their weekly ad.  I can almost always get inspiration from what is on sale that week.

Tonight I did my mid-week trip to the store.  Here is what I made:

  • Sauteed Rainbow Chard with Lemon (dinner tonight, breakfast tomorrow)
  • Pan Seared Grassfed Sirloin Steak (dinner tonight, lunch tomorrow for me and B)
  • Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries (dinner tonight, breakfast for B tomorrow)
  • Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings (post Crossfit dinner tomorrow, lunch Friday)
  • Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts (lunch tomorrow, dinner tomorrow)
  • Easy Weekday Homefries ~ Recipe coming soon!  (dinner tomorrow night)

Friday night, we will have leftovers, or something from the freezer.  I start my meal planning,grocery shopping and prep for the week again on Saturday so that I can beat the Sunday rush at the store.

What is your meal prep schedule?

How I Got My Kid To Eat Vegetables

When my daughter, B, first started eating solid food, she would eat ANYTHING.  I mean ANYTHING.  Among her favorite foods were broccoli, lobster (she called it “mobster”) and scallops.  It was mostly awesome, although we couldn’t get her to understand that steak and “mobster” weren’t in the budget for daily dining.

And then something happened and I have no idea why.

At about 18 months old, she started refusing some of her favorite food.  The first foods on the no go list were eggs, chicken breasts, and broccoli.  She wouldn’t touch any of it.  By the time she was two, she wouldn’t put anything green in her mouth.

I figured if she got hungry enough, she would eat it.  Nope!  She’d refuse to eat if these were her options.

I tried the “just one bite” approach.  Of course she’d refuse, have a meltdown, and I would offer a face saving deal to get her to take that bite.  However, I stopped when she told me she didn’t want to eat some scrambled eggs.  She finally took “just one bite” and barfed all over my kitchen table.  I was an awful experience for both of us.

I knew it wasn’t helping that she was getting more and more meals outside of the house.  Though I’d specifically chosen a daycare that would only give her the food I provided, I found out that she’d told one of her daycare teachers that I didn’t give her breakfast (I did) so that they would give her a second breakfast.  This second breakfast was always french toast sticks, pancakes or cereal.  She was in toddler heaven.We didn’t find out about second breakfast until  the director pointed out that we weren’t paying for those meals.

Here’s what I did to turn things around:

  1. Select your team (and your battles) carefully.  We eventually switched daycare centers and found one that was more supportive of my eating habits.  However, I was much more relaxed in my approach so I wasn’t labeled a crazy lady early on.  We let her eat cupcakes at her new preschool on birthdays even though they most definitely contained gluten.  I opted to let her eat the daycare provided snack which was usually processed garbage.  I was very uneasy about this, but her eating habits slowly improved because they only gave her what I provided for major meals.
  2. Note what vegetables they will actually eat and rotate those.  At one point were were down to frozen peas (yes, still frozen!) and pumpkin from a can.  She also went through a phase when the only veggies she wanted were orange.  I made sure we always had those on hand and she ate them OVER and OVER again.
  3. Try them raw.  After a LOT of trial and error, I discovered that she is much more inclined to eat a vegetable if it is raw.  When I stir fry peppers and onions to make a fajita inspired meal, I save some of the raw peppers on the side.  This requires no extra work and she loves them.
  4. Don’t assume! You know what happens when you assume…. I recently added this to my list of tricks after B saw me eating Sauerkraut and asked for some.  She has been eating it regularly since then.  I naturally assumed that this was out of the question and never offered it to her, but I was very wrong.
  5. Be a good example.  Your kids are watching you.  If you stop eating vegetables, you are setting the example that they are not an important part of your diet.
  6. Diversify.  With greater diversity there is a greater likelihood that there will be something your child likes.
  7. Hide it.  Soups, stews, smoothies and meatloafs are some of my favorite places to hide a little something extra.
  8. Make it a rule.  I decided that as a starting point, I would make a rule that we would have to have a serving of vegetables at dinner.  We added other meals later.  I also made a rule that B couldn’t have seconds until she finished a small serving of vegetables.  Sometimes she opted out of seconds, but most of the time she powered through.

Here is a current list of veggies she will willingly eat:

  • Acorn squash
  • Bell Peppers
  • Butternut Squash
  • Broccoli (only raw, and just a little bit!)
  • Carrots (raw or in soup)
  • Celery
  • Jicama
  • Green Beans (Frozen or fresh)
  • Peas (Frozen or fresh)
  • Pumpkin
  • Sauerkraut (but NEVER cabbage)
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Spinach (raw or sauteed in coconut oil)

This is a pretty good range of veggies, and doesn’t include the ones that she doesn’t know she is eating.  Her diet is far from perfect, but we continue to make progress.