While our shared love of food was one of the main things that brought us together, it was also the thing that posed the greatest threat of Wil and I breaking up. When we first got together, our typical weekly date night involved Top Chef and a trip to Whole Foods, grabbing one or two baguettes, three large hunks of cheese, a piece of pate, and one (or two) bottles of wine. This was just for the two of us and we’d chow down and easily polish off the entire purchase while watching the hour long show.
While wine and cheese are still two of my favorites, eating a pound of cheese in one sitting (luckily) isn’t a weekly occurrence for me anymore. So it probably comes as no surprise that when I first decided I’d had enough with obesity and joined Weight Watchers back in March of 2009, Wil and I went through a pretty rough patch. He alluded to it a little in his guest post – but the struggle that went on between us really made it harder than his words showed.
The Build Up
I remember one distinct night when he was cooking a meal for us and while I can’t remember exactly what it was, one of the elements was a salad. After he finished preparing it, I asked him how much olive oil he used in the dressing and he gave me a puzzled look. I went to the drawer and grabbed a teaspoon and a tablespoon measure, showed him, and asked him which of these he used and he was baffled by my question.
In restaurants, they finish every dish that goes out to the diners with a heavy pour of olive oil and he couldn’t fathom paying any attention to the actual amount that went into it. I got extremely annoyed with his response and overreacted by refusing to eat the meal he had worked to prepare.
After that night, the tension continued to grow between us and our very different styles of eating started to take the joy out of eating for both of us. I wanted to make separate dishes and weigh/measure my food, and he basically didn’t want to eat or cook at home very much anymore. I honestly couldn’t really blame him because it was ME who changed, and while the changes were mostly for the better, it was unfair of me to expect him to change as well just because I wanted to.
Looking back, the bottom line was that I wanted him to cater to my new diet, and he just wanted to keep on living how he was used to. Chefs make dishes, taste them, add more seasoning or ingredients as needed, and perfect a dish in that way. Me asking him to use measuring spoons and/or a food scale to cook was along the same lines as asking an artist to paint with a blindfold on.
The good news is that after the tension built up and then leveled off, we were both able to make some compromises to make things better between us, and to make both our inner foodies happy. I tried to make my “cheat day” on days when we would have a date night so I wasn’t so rigid with what I was eating if we went out to dinner or were cooking at home, and Wil started to appreciate healthy cooking and nutritious food a bit more. He spent some time teaching me a lot about cooking techniques and we started frequenting farmers markets to find new and exciting ingredients. He’s also the one who got me into going to Asian markets to find interesting products to work with, and experimenting with these things turned out to be a fun project to tackle together.
I think moderation is definitely the “secret” of living healthy long term, and while I still struggle with it a lot, I’ve tried to become more moderate in my approach to healthy living in general. I stepped back a bit in being SO crazy with measuring and weighing everything (I’ll always be a little bit crazy…) and also by stepping up with helping in the kitchen. Wil compromised by putting more care into flavoring things with less added fat, and turning instead to herbs, vinegar, and other healthy sources of flavor. We also planted an herb garden together on our balcony and successfully killed every plant we had out there last year – let’s hope for better luck this time around.
We still don’t eat together that much because of the nature of our jobs – I work a 9-5 and he works in a restaurant (well, four actually), but that actually works out well for us because we both get to eat how we want to most of the time. We try to keep junk food out of the house for the most part, and Wil obviously orders what he wants when we go out to restaurants so he can get his fix, but when we cook together at home, its usually fresh, local food so we both are happy and appreciate the food we’re eating.
How has your relationship with your significant other, friends, or family changed if you made changes in your own life and way of eating? Was it hard to compromise?