How to eat healthy when your partner doesn't - Simply Woman

By on November 6, 2017
How to eat healthy when your partner doesn't

By Stephanie Burg

I’ll never forget the time, a few years back, when I came home one night from teaching adult ballet to find my husband and step-daughter devouring a Mrs. Smith’s frozen apple pie and Breyer’s ice cream.

I was halfway through nutrition school at this point and had learned so much about the power of our choices–particularly in the quality of ingredients in our food.  I knew these desserts were loaded with sugar, but when I read the list of ingredients and saw high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and tons of preservatives, I was horrified.  Not only did this feel like defeat to me– my own family was eating crap— it felt symbolic of some deeper power struggle in my relationship.

At the time, my husband and step-daughter’s pleasurable dessert felt like an insult to my hard-work and a direct opposition to what I had already begun teaching my first clients.  In that moment, it didn’t matter to me that they’d had the best of intentions with their shared sweet treat, I felt overcome with frustration.

I knew I had to figure something out in order to feel supported on this path and have heard similar tales from many of my clients. 

Our partner’s food behavior can leave us feeling unsupported, or upset when we’re embarking upon change.  What I’ve found most often to be the case, is that because this is new territory for us, we aren’t always sure how to articulate our needs and when we can’t articulate what we need, obviously, neither can they.  We (and our partners) are more likely to experience irritation when we can’t be clear about what intentions we hold for ourselves.

When problems with their mate’s food choices arise, here are four things I tell my clients in order to move through the issue with ease:

1.  Communicate your needs directly. If your partner’s way of showing love includes pints of Ben & Jerry’s, Twizzlers and pizza– but your efforts are focused on making nutritional changes– it’s time for the two of you to have a heart-to-heart.  By telling your partner directly (and lovingly) what your intentions for change are, as well as why these changes are important to you, you allow him or her to support the vision you’re creating for your future and invite them to show their love in other ways.

Instead of junk food, you can ask your partner to bring you flowers, your favorite magazine, herbal tea, or pay for a manicure; maybe ask them to do the laundry for a week, or write you a love note.  Communication is an art form and asking for exactly what you want in your relationship, allows your partner to provide pleasure to you in ways other than food.

2.  Be consistent.  With any limit you set, consistency is key. If you’re “watching your weight” but constantly eating cookies, you’re sending the message to your partner (and your body) that you aren’t serious about creating change.  If you truly want to make shifts in your life, staying strong even when you stumble, is one of the best ways to do so.

Think of the last big shift you made…it most likely took practice, consistency and a certain amount of willpower.  Shifting the dynamic in your relationship, especially around something like food choices, will also take time.  If your partner doesn’t immediately respond to your desire to choose better food, you may have to repeat your intentions and abstain from indulging with him or her several times before the change is reinforced.  Be patient with both of you and try to see each challenge as a chance to recommit to your desires.

3.  Nourish yourself first.  If you know that your body feels best with healthy food, make sure that you have the things you need on hand to take care of you, independent of your partner’s choices.  Feeding yourself in a way that makes you feel vibrant is no one’s responsibility but your own. This may require a little extra effort, but ultimately is so worth it.

The next time you share a meal with your family or partner, be sure to include at least one of the foods or dishes your body thrives on.  Try making an additional side or salad, or having frozen berries on hand for a healthy dessert option.  Ultimately, it’s your job to make sure you feel great, so start with your needs in mind first and allow your significant other to make their own choice as well.

4.  Recognize that your power lies in the ability to choose (and choose wisely).  You have the ability to make lots of decisions that positively impact your well-being, each second.  You are not powerless to food, nor are you at the mercy of your partner’s food choices.

Practice re-directing your attention from what your partner might be doing to sabotage your healthy habits and instead focus on the power you hold in making wise decisions that support you.  Know that the positive efforts you’ve already put in can never be undone, even if you slip up on occasion.

When it comes to your body, there should be no co-dependence.  You are capable of transforming your relationship to food and your body, no matter what anyone else does or does not choose to eat.  The more you can release the need to control your partner’s food choices, focusing on what you need to thrive instead, the more you empower them to create positive changes on their own.


Stephanie headshotStephanie Burg understands the mean girl relationship women have with their bodies because she was a professional ballerina for over a decade.  For years she forced herself into restrictive, disordered eating and utter disregard for her body. It was only after a series of injuries that took her off the stage that Stephanie was forced to reevaluate every facet of her life, starting with her relationship to her body.

A Board Certified Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach, Stephanie is a fierce advocate for the human form. She teaches women how to return to the innate wisdom and brilliance of their female bodies. Stephanie believes that when a woman loves the body she calls home, she embraces her power to create the life she was born to live. Get access to Stephanie’s 7 Day (1wk) Formula for FINALLY Loving the Body You Call Home by visiting: – Because feeling great in your body is your birthright.

Stephanie’s work has been featured in publications such as ABC News, Colorado Public Radio, Dance Magazine, Mind Body Green, Elephant Journal, Tiny Buddha, and various national and local publications.  Stephanie was selected as one of Charleston, SC’s “50 Most Progressive” celebrating the most forward-thinking individuals having an impact on the future of Charleston.

Don’t miss Stephanie’s 7 Day Formula for FINALLY Loving the Body You Call Home by visiting: You deserve to feel great in your body, now!

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