Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When You and Your Partner are at Food Odds

Good morning! Today I present to you a guest blog post by the blogger over at Kitchen of Health. Do you know that when I started blogging a little over two years ago there were very few "Nutritarian Bloggers" or "Plant-strong Bloggers?" That's simply not the case today, and it's really hard for me to keep up with the scores of new bloggers in this genre. It's wildly exciting because to me, it's a symbol that the movement is rapidly growing.

The subject is what to do when you and your partner are at food odds, but the advice could apply equally well to children, parents, friends and other relatives.

Here's what Hailey has to say:

Pete Spreet ate only meat
His wife ate only greens
And so between the two of them
They licked the platter clean.

The rhyme would be hilarious if there weren’t a bit of pathetic truth to it for many households. Living with an omnivorous spouse if you are plant-strong can be challenging, if not downright frustrating. I have vacillated between anger and amusement when fixing his and hers menus. If I weren’t frightened for the long-range consequences on his health, I wouldn’t care what he eats. The question that plagues me is, “How do I nourish him when he doesn’t want it?”

Recently, mealtime friction came to a head when my 16-year-old son decided to join me on the quest for greater athletic prowess. At once, my spouse felt betrayed. It was no longer the meat-eating men against the salad-eating women. The strong swimmer was taking sides…and choosing beans!

A shaky truce kept things together until the squash debacle: I served a “family-friendly” meal of stuffed squash with Boca Crumbles (http://www.bocaburger.com/). Revolt was in the air. Hubby took a polite “no-thank-you bite” and headed straight to the store to buy steak and crab…and Polish sausages.

So what have I learned from this?  The biggest lesson is that power is not the same as control.  empower people when I increase their ability to make decisions that lead to freedom, growth and strength. I control them when I restrict their autonomy and force them down a path of my own choosing. Said another way, when I educate them about nutrition and demonstrate consequences – both positive and negative – I am giving them the power to live a better life. When I manipulate them into eating my way, I am trying to change them against their will. That latter approach works for no one.

What I really mean is leaders pull; tyrants push. Have you ever tried to push a cooked spaghetti noodle across the counter top? It just bunches up without going forward. But take the same noodle and get in front and lead out and it will trail with the gentlest tug. The point is to be an example that others can look to for strength. That brings me to the next lesson:

Exude confidence; spurn fear. Emily Boller recently wrote for Disease Proof that pushy relatives may actually be feeling envy or resentment, turning them into “food bullies.” If we feel threatened by them, we actually exacerbate the problem. Her solution was to be clear in our own determination to eat healthy and not waver when confronted about our choices.

She said, “Bullies have a strong need to control and dominate….If a food bully’s intended target exhibits a “defeated attitude” in response to the pushiness, then the bullying is likely to continue. However, as in most all cases with bona fide bullies, if the intended target responds with a clear attitude of self-confidence and a strong boundary line, the bully’s attempt to dominate will quickly diminish.”
Fruits Veggies
After all, whose problem is it that we choose healthy alternatives and they don’t? Of course, we’re making an assumption that our choices actually are healthy ones. 

Next lesson: challenge your assumptions.Science is continually finding new answers. What was “correct” in the 1980s may no longer be valid. For example, I learned at a young age that good health comes from eating three square meals a day. Compare that paradigm with today’s shape of health:

Knowing what’s actually true requires that we keep learning! That’s where community comes in. We should never assume we’re fighting all by ourselves. You are never alone. Whatever roadblock stands in the way, someone else has faced it and is prepared to spot you in your leap across it.

May all your relatives be Nutritarian some day!

What has your experience been with your loved ones? Do you and your partner see eye-to-eye about diet? If not, how is it negotiated in your household? 

What do you think of Hailey's advice? Do you have any advice of your own?

Have you seen an evolution in your situation over time or is it at a standstill? Are you witnessing more and more of your loved ones eating more Plant-strong as your time committed to this continues?
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