When One Changes

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.

Wil and Beth

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 Compromise

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?

40 Comments on When One Changes

  1. L.G.
    April 26, 2011 at 8:44 am (9 years ago)

    I got into almost the SAME argument with my bf. We were making “his” calzone recipe (one of the only things he can prepare from scratch and thus his pride and joy). I had looked into it and adapted it to contain less oil than the way he usually prepared it. Nevertheless, he added the excess oil anyway and we got into a huge argument.
    After the emotions had settled I used it as an opportunity to explain WW Points Plus more throughly and to have him understand why it was so important to measure my food and to know what the food I eat contains.
    He has been so supportive of my weight loss journey since and is very conscious to suggest healthy options.

  2. goodtastehealthyme
    April 26, 2011 at 8:48 am (9 years ago)

    I am the chef in my household so my fiance will eat whatever I decide to cook. He luckily doesn’t complain. He is opinionated on what he likes, but luckily will eat anything I put in front of him (as long as there is no peas or beans). Sometimes he’ll even eat things that I can’t eat because it turned out gross! I cook healthier foods and he loves it. Overall we just feel better eating healthier.

  3. Katie
    April 26, 2011 at 8:52 am (9 years ago)

    I’ve been really lucky having the boyfriend that I do. We live together and I am also the sole chef in the house, so he’s always willing to eat whatever I may cook. I do make an effort to balance the healthier salads that I might make with a more hearty WW recipe, but in the last year of my WWing, he’s been really supportive. I also make the extra effort to check out menus before we go out, have my Dining Out companion handy, etc., so he’s not having to completely sacrifice things he enjoys so that I can be successful. It’s all about the compromise 🙂

  4. Lori
    April 26, 2011 at 8:58 am (9 years ago)

    My husband and I have always had somewhat different eating styles. We always eat together, but not the same stuff. I eat much more fruit and veggies than he does. He eats more carbs than I do. We often share a protein, but then fix our own side dishes. It works for us.
    I do love it when all things mesh and we eat a complete meal together, which usually only happens when we do some preplanning.

  5. Amy @ Second City Randomness
    April 26, 2011 at 9:05 am (9 years ago)

    I’m glad you’ve found a good compromise that works for you both. Food can easily be an issue in relationships. I’ve definitely put on pounds from both ends of the spectrum- cooking delicious but fattening food at home together, and being taken out to eat every other day.

    It takes a little effort to re-balance everything again…

  6. Christine @ Merf In Progress
    April 26, 2011 at 9:06 am (9 years ago)

    I can imagine that’s really difficult for both of you. In relationships, people are always changing and growing (well, I hope so anyway) and it’s hard when they aren’t changing in the same or complimentary directions. My husband has been super cool about our new eating style. Most of our crappy food was due to convenience, so as long as I am making the effort to have better food available, he’s all for it. He hasn’t complained about the addition of more vegetarian meals, and of course when we go out he can eat all the steak he wants. If I decided to be a vegetarian or vegan, I think it would be tough on us. But as long as it’s just healthy, and flexible, it works really well so far.

  7. Holly @ The Runny Egg
    April 26, 2011 at 9:10 am (9 years ago)

    Thankfully Jason was (and still is) open to whatever I want to make/prepare/eat. He isn’t choosey, and if he doesn’t like something he’ll make a sandwich for himself. No big deal.

    I’m glad you and Wil have figured out a way to make this work for the two of you!

  8. Liz
    April 26, 2011 at 9:15 am (9 years ago)

    Looking back when I was really rigid about measuring, it caused some tension too. Basically I ended up taking over all the cooking because I was too scared to give up that control.
    How has Wil handled the switch to no meat? I feel like that has been harder on Neil – I still cook meat for him but we used to have meat almost every night. He says he doesn’t mind because he knows its healthier/better for the environment, but sometimes I feel a tiny bit bad!

    • Beth
      April 26, 2011 at 9:52 am (9 years ago)

      Eating less meat was definitely one of the hardest transitions over the course of changing my eating. I think me still eating fish is the saving grace with that, because when we cook together we almost always have fish of some sort. It’s the same with my family – they can’t believe I don’t eat meat but when we do meals together, we usually do fish or else I’ll just have something separate, like at Easter. Sometimes Wil will pick up chicken or steak or something and make that for himself with whatever I’m eating, like when I made that huge back of quinoa salad last weekend. I just had the quinoa (but a lot of it) and he had a small portion of it along with some chicken. The vegetarian recipe I’ve had the most luck with is the Mexican Casserole – he LOVED that and couldn’t get enough.

  9. Ashleigh
    April 26, 2011 at 9:18 am (9 years ago)

    I’m happy you two were able to compromise! I can’t imagine how hard it must be to resist temptations living with a chef.. it’s hard enough just living with a boy and seeing how much they eat, and what they can eat without gaininig a single pound.
    My bf and I do still struggle a bit with this issue because he wants to eat big meals, with wine, and have dessert almost every night! Luckily he works nights a few times a week so I can spend time alone cooking healthy. A lot of times we will prepare dinner together, but prepare separate dishes. It can be a pain to do the dishes after, but it works for us! Oh, and luckily he doesn’t mind making egg whites and using spray to cook them in for me 🙂

  10. Gretchen @ Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen!
    April 26, 2011 at 9:19 am (9 years ago)

    I feel like so much of your journey in the past absolutely mirrors what I’ve been going through as well. My boyfriend’s eating habits leave a lot to be desired, and while he has been trying to make healthier choices recently, he is overweight as well and definitely doesn’t do as much as I feel he should. We actually went through our rough patch last summer right before I started my weight loss and when we worked things out I told him that one of the caveats would be that he has to be better about his eating. I realize now that it’s unreasonable to expect someone to change their lifestyle because of the choices that I’ve made, but it’s also really hard to stick to your choices when your significant other is eating a lot of the stuff you used to chow down on without hesitation, you know? I do remain optimistic though that once Steve and I live closer together (we’re long-distance right now) cooking together will be a source of quality time and bonding for us. He’ll eat whatever I make for him, so I’m hoping that eventually eating together would help both of our struggles.

  11. Lindsay
    April 26, 2011 at 9:26 am (9 years ago)

    Thankfully, my husband will eat whatever is placed in front of him, and he really wants to eat healthfully. He struggles a lot not to eat crap when he’s on his own, but when I cook something healthy for dinner or ask him to make something healthy, he never complains.
    The one place that’s been an issue is at the grocery store. I can’t have things in the house like chips, cookies, etc., because I can’t seem to help myself from eating them. Sometimes he grabs a bag of chips and I’m like, “PLEASE! NO!” And since he actually wants to eat healthfully, he doesn’t mind putting it back.

  12. Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle
    April 26, 2011 at 9:28 am (9 years ago)

    Balancing two food styles is a constant struggle with my boyfriend and me. I am lucky in that he will eat pretty much anything I cook without complaints, but the problem lies in the fact that we eat out a lot (which I wouldn’t do as much on my own) and I have a hard time making good choices when faced with too many delicious options. It’s something we are still working on finding a balance between. It’s good that you and Wil were able to make comprimises 🙂

  13. TracyP
    April 26, 2011 at 9:47 am (9 years ago)

    I have the opposite story. Over the 10 years we’ve been together, each new lifestyle (read: diet) I tried, my husband just went along and adapted to the plan. Before he met me, he had never been on any diet. I believe he is happiest on Weight Watchers and I know I am. We know we can enjoy anything in moderation and maintain our healthy weights.

  14. Gwen
    April 26, 2011 at 9:47 am (9 years ago)

    Oy I could go ON AND ON about food struggles with my Hubs. It is a difficult balance that can be hard to navigate. But I think I’m coming around again!

  15. Theresa @ActiveEggplant
    April 26, 2011 at 9:48 am (9 years ago)

    Whew – I was scared for a second that this was a break up post – SO happy to hear you and Wil are finding ways to compromise that work for both of you!

    Luckily my husband and I are both fairly simple cooks – and are both aware that we need to eat healthier and move more – so we have been able to make changes to our diets and lifestyles together! My metabolism is definitely different than his, so he gets to indulge more than I can, but we’re both aware of it – so when he’s having a huge helping of cake and icecream, I get some but just not as much. While I’m still trying to lose a lot of weight (30 lbs to go) he’s pretty much in maintenance mode, so he definitely gets to cheat more than me, but he doesn’t “crave” as much as me either – I rely on him to help keep me in check!

    I think it would be super difficult to not be on the same page, so I definitely feel lucky that we’re both going through this together!

  16. Erin @ A Girl & Her Mutt
    April 26, 2011 at 9:55 am (9 years ago)

    Ahh…the dreading measuring spoon. I specifically remember a conversation with my dad on a visit home once when I asked how much butter he used. I felt like I was being a pain and he felt bad that he might have used more than he should. I am really fortunate that all of my family and boyfriend are super supportive of my attempts to be healthy!

  17. LizM
    April 26, 2011 at 10:59 am (9 years ago)

    My husband and I argue about this constantly. He loves to cook, I could take it or leave it. But he’s also in the camp where you “eyeball” it – when sauting vegetables, he’ll use enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan – the idea of measuring it (and getting another dish dirty) is just not something that comes naturally to him. A pinch of something here, a handfull there – he makes great food, but it makes it very hard to track the points!

    Our compromise is that he’s teaching me how to cook. That way, I’m in the kitchen when he’s cooking, so I can measure ingredients. It helps that I need to measure ingredients for a recipe to work – I have no idea what “about a tablespoon” looks like.

    • Beth
      April 26, 2011 at 11:04 am (9 years ago)

      I think stepping up in the kitchen has helped SO much to make our relationship stronger, because it gives us more quality time AND helps solve the discrepancies between our different styles of eating/cooking. It’s tough because Wil has never struggled with his weight, so he doesn’t “get it” if you know what I mean.

  18. beyondbananas
    April 26, 2011 at 11:09 am (9 years ago)

    Justin actually eats much more healthy now that we hacve moved in together. There are still some things he doesn’t care for (like turkey burgers instead of regular burgers) – but he has embraced the way that I eat. We do dinner on our own some nights so he can enjoy frozen chicken uggest and french fries – but it is nice that he is willing to try! (And he has STOPPED eating fast food)

  19. LauraJayne
    April 26, 2011 at 11:43 am (9 years ago)

    I’ve definitely struggled with this too – since I’m not in a long term relationship, it’s manifested itself a little differently though. I have been dating, and one of the standard first dates is usually a meal – but I went through a “transition to a healthy life” stage where eating out totally panicked me because I couldn’t control things like the amount on olive oil they put on top of foods! I know that I missed out on great dates because I didn’t want to be the girls who ordered compulsively at a restaurant. However, I’m learning that it is who I am – and I’d rather he knew that I was a super-picky restaurant customer now instead of be shocked (and annoyed) to discover that in a couple of months!

  20. Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles
    April 26, 2011 at 12:04 pm (9 years ago)

    Differences in dietary preferences between my Husband and I have been a huge challenge. I say salad for dinner. He says BLT. Sheesh.

  21. definediana
    April 26, 2011 at 12:58 pm (9 years ago)

    When my Fiance and I started weight watchers together, we both agreed to not keep ice cream in the house anymore.

    He started to eat greek yogurt and smoothies instead. He says that it helps him with the ice cream “fix”

    He isn’t as strick on measurements as I am, but I do the majority of the cooking in the house and we don’t eat out much. I just make sure that he is getting everything he needs and don’t pressure himt o measure that much because I will set what is his portion to the side. He can choose to eat it all or not.

    However, even when we eat out, he is willing to share meals with me when he never would do that before. I find that to be a huge compromise on his part. I think he is having a harder time coming around to the healthy living thing.

  22. holly
    April 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm (9 years ago)

    definitely something i think a lot of people can relate to and i definitely think about health, exercise and food when dating new people. it’s definitely not a make or break thing, but finding people who also live their life similar is important to me. thank you for sharing your story!

  23. Marci
    April 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm (9 years ago)

    Such a hard thing to deal with in our house! My husband has great genes and eats semi-healthy but also doesn’t have to measure food. I have a feature on the blog called “dinner two ways” and show how I modify a meal for me and different for him. It’s a little annoying, but if I want to eat with him at home, we eat different. I’d rather make accommodations and eat at home more than out than argue.

  24. Lisa
    April 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm (9 years ago)

    This is a hard one. I’ve written about it before too. I met Michael after I’d lost most of my weight and already had new eating habits. So we were able to combine our lives together without TOO much conflict.

    We both love cooking, food, wine. The night of a yummy dinner, wine and Top Chef sounds a lot like our life! There are times where it’s been a struggle but we work it out. He understands that there are just some things I won’t eat and that I will always eat less than him.

    We’ve found a balance. And honestly, sometimes it’s a good thing that he convinces me to splurge sometimes. I can get in a rut of eating certain foods, counting every calories and not really ENJOYING my food.

  25. Jen@jensdaily
    April 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm (9 years ago)

    The husband thinks that I should be able to eat anything I want as long as I worked out that day. No matter how many times I tell him I’m not 17 and in top shape anymore, he just doesn’t get it. I’ve stopped trying to reason with him, thankfully he’s not picky and as long as he has dinner, he doesn’t care what it is 🙂

  26. Ashley
    April 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm (9 years ago)

    It’s too funny, I just wrote about this on my blog.

    My BF is supper supportive of me, and thankfully adjusts to my eating changes when we’re together. Last night he ate 1/2 cup of ice cream, just like me, even though I’m sure he could have eaten a larger portion.

    We’ve had our ups and downs with eating though. He’s really good about only eating when he’s hungry… well when we first started dating this was tough because some days he wasn’t hungry until 2PM. By that time I could have eaten my own hand my blood sugar was so low. We’ve learned that we don’t HAVE to eat at the same time and that it’s good for me to have a bag of cheerios in the car, just in case 😉

  27. Ang
    April 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m pretty lucky because my husband has always pretty much ate whatever I cooked. Now that I can’t have gluten he still doesn’t complain much. Sometimes he will have a bowl of cereal in the evening if he’s not crazy about what I serve, but he at least tries a portion of it. When we go out he eats gluten and also at lunch so he’s not really deprived.

  28. Monica
    April 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm (9 years ago)

    Very interesting post! And I am glad to hear that you two found a common ground.

    I use to be the very rigid one that completely altered mine and my husband’s eating lifestyle to accommodate my weight-loss goals. When my husband fully got on board and was eating similar to me the weight naturally dropped off for him with very little work. However, now that I have had certain things back in my diet again and have been lacking the discipline I once had to just try to keep food down, it has impacted my husband’s health. He has had a hard time with the temptations in the house, especially all the grains, and I feel bad that he has gained weight right along with me. This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately and have been trying to improve so that he isn’t impacted as much.

  29. Lisa (bakebikeblog)
    April 26, 2011 at 5:45 pm (9 years ago)

    Thankyou for sharing this really heartfelt post. Luckily for me, Mr BBB and I share the same passions for health and fitness – and to be honest, he is a constant motivator for me 🙂 My previous relationship was the complete opposite though!

  30. happywhennothungry
    April 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm (9 years ago)

    What a great post! Dan loves meat so there’s definitely times when we compromise with each other. He’s learned to love ground turkey and turkey sausages!

  31. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean
    April 26, 2011 at 8:33 pm (9 years ago)

    i think i’ve definitely changed my hubby’s eating habits for the better over the years. and it makes me happy 🙂

  32. Parita
    April 26, 2011 at 8:57 pm (9 years ago)

    My bf tells me that my taste buds are warped! He thinks that I like foods because they are healthy versus liking them for the taste factor. I disagree, but he’s convinced. I think when we get married, I will definitely have to make a concious effort to remember that I am not the only one eating my food. He’s not too picky, but I admit that I eat very simply while he enjoys richer dishes sometimes. It’s all about balance!

    Great post!!

  33. Amanda
    April 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm (9 years ago)

    This was a big problem for me and my (now ex) boyfriend when I started WW. We had both gained about 50 lbs or more since we started dating nearly 3 years ago but he was and is still in denial about it. He refused to eat anything I made or make anything healthy because he didn’t want to admit we had gained weight. Anyway, now we are over and things are so much easier to just make what I want and eat it without having to argue everytime I choose a banana over a piece of cake…which happened…a lot! He would purposely buy stuff he knew I didn’t need to eat and fix it and bring it to me after I had already eaten my healthy food. Grrr…beyond frustrating. Now I am nearly 30 lbs lighter and SO much happier. Sometimes it takes a seemingly small and simple life change to make you realize who matters and who doesn’t.

  34. The Teenage Taste
    April 27, 2011 at 7:02 am (9 years ago)

    Great post, Beth! I know when I started eating healthier my family was totally freaked out. “You’re eating chia seeds?!” they said. Now some of my healthy eating habits have rubbed off on them and I cannot be happier!

  35. Katie Photiadis
    April 27, 2011 at 7:52 am (9 years ago)

    I know that I’m late to the game, but I wanted to tell you how much I liked this post. It’s really hard eating socially when you are trying to be strict with a diet program (aka measuring and weighing everything) and I can understand both sides of this. From your end, it would be sooo frustrating to be working hard to get healthy and lose weight only to eat food that you had no idea of the points values. From Wil’s perspective though, I could see how weighing and measuring would cramp his style.

    Glad you worked out a compromise! I think that is really the secret to sustainable weight loss.

  36. Terri
    April 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm (9 years ago)

    The issues in my relationship and my new healthiness journey definitely include “what he wants to eat” vs. “what I need to eat.” But moreso, I see changes in my husband’s attitude concerning the way I look since I have now lost 20 pounds. While I appreciate the compliments I receive, I almost become irritated by wondering why I never received those types of comments before. Oh, and the fact that he has no reservation about eating a sleeve of Thin Mints in the background while I am sweating to a workout video. 🙂

  37. Linda
    May 1, 2011 at 8:39 am (9 years ago)

    This really hit home with me. My husband and I don’t eat the same things, and we don’t eat together. I think it would be nice if we could, because we don’t spend that much time together. And I have two kids who also don’t eat what I eat and don’t usually eat what each other eat! Sometimes I was making 3 or 4 meals a night.

    But now my husband mostly gets/makes his own food, and I do my own. I wish he would eat a more healthy diet since he is overweight, but he has to come to that decision himself. He alternates between crazy diets and does lose weight, but then gains it all back.

    It’s even hard for us to go out to dinner because I don’t like to eat out, and if I do it’s usually just a salad. He likes steak and mexican and chinese food.


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