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Will and I came from very different versions of SAD-lite diets.
Will’s house was full of white bread and pasta (“it tastes better and is cheaper!”), “healthy” sugary cereals, Ramen, and Chef Boyardee. They always seem to be making deserts in that house with white flour and white sugar. At the same time, they have a huge garden that they eat from all summer and fall. They make their own pesto and sauerkraut. Will makes homemade pie crust with lard and fills it with blackberries from the back yard.
My family kept all our grains whole and the only prepackaged meals you’d find were Progresso soup and organic mac and cheese. And when possible we preferred to make out own versions. But we didn’t have an edible garden and there may have been more than a few occasions when my chosen form of sustenance was Goldfish and/or Cheez-Its.
My family’s version of SAD-lite was much more open to a full real food transition. My mom was happy to start buying the dirty dozen organic and she now buys 50lbs of grass fed beef at a time from a local farmer. She is always incredibly supportive of my diet restrictions and has even herself gone gluten free. Will’s family? They don’t get it, think grain fed beef tastes better (I will never understand that one), and enjoy making fun of my diet restrictions, especially since I went gluten free. But man their home-grown carrots are good!
Despite this environment, Will has been incredibly supportive of me and makes an effort to help me stick to my diet. He’ll try anything once and in spite of himself has enjoyed a few gluten-free creations. He has agreed to keep our home free of the foods that cause the greatest trouble for me. How did I do it?
Find a Respectful Spouse
Did that sound snarky? Probably. But it’s true. If your spouse is not respectful of you, your decisions, and your health, you are less likely to experience success on your health journey, and you are certainly not going to be able to talk to your spouse reasonably about what you are doing. Your spouse can tease you occasionally, but at the end of the day, he or she must respect your decision and not try to sabotage it. At the least that is how you deserve to be treated and how your children deserve to see you treated.
Present Him with the Research
Yes, I used the masculine there. Let’s be honest. Look around the real food blogging world. It is predominately women. And biologically, women tend to be more emotional and men tend to be more rational. Like I said, tend to be, but generally that is how it is. If your husband is resistant to movement away from the SAD diet, whether filled with junk food or more healthy, presenting the scientific information for why you want to do this may help him understand it more. Books like The Paleo Approach may be a bit dense and extreme when we are just talking real food, but it is an incredibly informative book with many scientific references. A spouse should definitely read this if you are going on the autoimmune protocol! Plus, it is written by someone with a PhD in a scientific field. This fact alone was what convinced Will to trust the information in this book – to him it showed that the author actually knew how to do research and use her sources.
Otherwise, simply sharing your favorite resources that you used when making your decision to move to real food should help your spouse see why you are doing what you are.
Share Your Story
Sharing testimonies can be incredibly powerful for convincing others to be okay with what you are doing. However, it is most important to share your own testimony. When I went on my elimination diet, Will was constantly asking me why I had to give up certain foods – he thought it was all pretty suspect. Until the day he came over and I could show him the rash all over my arms – this is what happens when I eat tomatoes. And while he is especially suspect of my decision to go off gluten since I don’t have an obvious sensitivity, all I have to do is explain how much better I feel without it. It isn’t even that I get noticeably sick when I eat gluten and gluten substitutes (like breads, desserts, and pastas). But I just feel bad and I am more likely to binge eat and to neglect eating healthy foods. When I explain this, Will responds with, “Okay. As long as you feel good and are getting the nutrients you need.”
Cook Real Food
The most successful thing I did to get Will on board with real food? Offered to cook.
Will works full time, while I will be working from home. I plan on spending the month of June batch cooking for when I go AIP in August, and from then on I will be primarily in charge of cooking meals. This means that I will also be making the grocery lists. I got Will to agree not to keep my largest problem foods in the house. From them, he essentially agreed to go AIP with me because it is easier to eat what I cook and have in the freezer than to make his own.
In the end, it will take time. Focus on yourself and your own health. As you get healthier and slowly replace certain foods in your home with healthier versions, your spouse should begin to see how important this is to you and how committed you are. Eventually, he or she may want to try it out, or at least not resist too hard (see “Cook Real Food”). As soon as they start feeling healthier, they will understand and hopefully embrace this healthier lifestyle you have found. They may not adhere to it as strictly as you, but any progress and acceptance is something to be happy about.
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