For Real Food-Resistant Men
This is a post my wife has been urging me to write for a while now. Quite frankly, it’s been put off long enough. It’s time you ladies had a guy backing you up! I’m happy to oblige … at least now I am. I’m fairly positive that the majority of the readers of this post will be female, but I encourage my lady friends to take comfort in its words, then shove them in your partner’s face.
Back around 2010-ish when my wife began asking me for permission (like she needed it) to buy healthier foods, I sensed it was best to turn her loose; to let her know that she had my support. Honestly, at the time, I just thought it was another one of her spur-of-the-moment decisions that would soon pass. So, I told her, “Lindsey, our home is your domain. Run it! I don’t care how you decorate it, when you clean it, what we eat, etc. I’m at work all day, so I don’t really have an opinion on those things. Make it your own! Buy healthy food if you want to, but let’s try to agree on a budget to make it all work.”
It was like watching a bird take flight (a pastured, not cage-free, bird ). Over the past five or so years, I’ve watched my wife take that statement very literally. And I’ve come to appreciate her in ways I never thought I could or would. What I believed was a passing phase of health freak-ish-ness has actually become an important part of our lives — yes, even mine.
Ladies & Gentlemen
You’re amazing. For real. I can’t begin to tally the total number of hours my wife has spent reading, researching, calling local farmers, cooking (and cooking, cooking, and more cooking!), documenting and taking photos, and now giving back here in Dietzville and at Traditional Cooking School. That’s not all she’s done in those hours, mind you, but it’s a fair list. If you’re here, like right now – reading this post – then you’ve likely had your fair share in at least some part of that list yourself. Either that, or you’re completely out of your mind getting ready to begin that journey. Nevertheless, you’re a freaking rock-star. A bonafide superwoman with killer boots (from humane-certified cows, of course) and laser eyes (because you’ve been taking your fermented cod liver oil).
You’re incredibly valuable. You might not hear this often, so I invite you back to read it here anytime: THANK YOU. Thank you for everything you do. Thank you for taking the time to invest into yourself and those who matter most. Without your efforts, we’d most likely continue down the path of self-destruction — leaving a trail of empty Doritos bags and crumpled Coke cans behind. But because of you, we’re healthier, stronger, and getting to eat incredible foods that others write off. Onward, crunchy women of valor!
We’re idiots. For real. I can’t begin to tally the total number of hours I’ve wasted arguing with my wife about becoming healthy. REALLY?! Take a minute and read that again.
Arguing — with my wife — about becoming healthy.
Hello??? Is this thing on?! What the heck is there to argue about? Nothing. That’s the answer you’re looking for.
Let me speak to my former self, and if it happens to ring true for you, great. Maybe you can learn from me and save yourself a few years of misery before you come to the inevitable conclusion that she, the wife you love and adore, has your best interests in mind.
Former me, here’s the wisdom I give you:
I want to let you know that your life is about to change completely. Before you go into shock, just know that what’s about to happen doesn’t suck. It may feel like it at times, but I promise you, it’s worth it.
First of all, your wife is about to rip off some band-aids; only it’s going to feel like your entire body was wrapped in duck tape made with superglue. Yes, you’re going to detest everything she says, buys, and tries to force-feed you and every unsuspecting bystander around you. You see, most of the breathing world still believes that this “real food” nonsense is reserved for groups of hippies doing life together in communes — and one day, you’ll actually think that’s a cool idea. (Former me: Whoa!). You don’t want to feel stupid, and you don’t want your family to become “that” family, but you will. That’s right. The perceived cool-factor you currently think you have will be obliterated with gluten-free black bean cupcakes sweetened with xylitol.
(Present me: Mmmmm … Sweet nectar … | Former me: What the heck are you talking about?)
Seriously, the sooner you can get on-board the granola train, the easier all of this will be. You’re going to add words to your vocabulary like “lacto-fermentation” and “clabbered milk” and “Paleo” — Google will become a great ally. I encourage you to be proactive in this quest. Don’t take a back seat while your wife practically earns medical/nutritional/essential oil/science degrees — minus the letters behind her name, but certainly not the hours.
Let me explain something to you, self: You’re stubborn as a mule traveling uphill, in the mud, with sleet pelting you in the face. I don’t know why this is, but it’s hard for you to admit when you’re wrong. Remember the Facebook ad that popped up?
Yeah, that one. Letting go of processed food, soft drinks, and delectable, gluten-filled treats is not easy. The struggle is real, I know. But don’t take it out on your wife. It’s not her fault you’re addicted to sugar (Former me: I’m not addicted… | Present me [interrupting]: Yes! You are! | Former me: ). Yeah, wait until you detox and your body excretes smells that only the pits of hell can recognize, and you’re bent over the toilet hugging it like a long-lost puppy — puking your guts up and running a fever because you quit sugar cold turkey. Yep, that’s coming.
Let’s break this down so that it’s abundantly clear. You resist change, particularly anything that’s difficult or requires effort. It’s hard to move out of your comfort zone when it’s so warm and cozy — like the innards of your microwaved Hot Pockets. Becoming crunchy (remember your Google ally) requires effort. Instead of screaming and kicking like an undisciplined toddler, why not accept that being healthy is a wise choice? Why not accept that it’s worth the investment? Why don’t you, for once dadgumit, get behind your wife, and let her take the reins?
She’s strong, organized, passionate, and she’s right in this. Just because you don’t want to give up living comfortably with your junk food doesn’t mean you get to be a complete jerk. It also doesn’t mean you get to sneak chips and Hershey bars into the shopping cart when she’s not looking.
And just so there’s not any confusion, I don’t mean that you get to sit back and let her make decisions, bearing this weight on her own while you reluctantly hop on the foodie (Google ally) wagon. Self, you get to knock her on the floor by putting a smile on your face while you ask her what you can do to assist her on this joy ride.
Sir — you, the one whose wife tricked you into reading this post by way of some obscure email or text message — how often can you admit that you’ve given your wife the support she’s dying to have from you? Paying the bills and providing a roof over her head isn’t all she wants. Do you want to know what she really wants, above it all? You. She wants you. She needs you to believe in her, support her, and be her biggest fan. She needs you to try everything she makes — just don’t ask what’s in it. She needs you to have conversations with her about the atrocities of CAFOs (Google it), to get up early on Saturday mornings to go to the farmers’ market with her. Be her companion.
Seriously, the days of a perfect and quiet 1950s housewife in slammin’ heels and a cute apron are long gone. (However, if I happen to get home one day to find Lindsey in heels and an apron, you can bet I’m going to play along!) Just like slavery is a thing of the past, a domineering partner should be too. I’m calling you out, and I’m begging you to reconsider your relationship as it currently stands. If you’re unsure where it stands, ask your partner. I can assure you she knows. It’s time for you to let her move out from underneath your thumb, and let her lead with you; side-by-side, together. She’s stronger than you in some ways, and in those areas, she’s better suited to lead. In some ways you’re stronger, better suited to lead. But that doesn’t mean that either of you should ever have to lead alone.
If your wife is desiring to take the family on a health quest, do it. Don’t fight her because this isn’t a fleeting thing. This is a lifelong, in-it-for-the-long-haul lifestyle change. So, your partnership will always be needed. Not only is your health and that of your kids worth it, she’s worth it.
I can’t tell you how many e-mails Lindsey gets from ladies all over the country who are desperate to make healthy changes for their families, but they are stuck with unsupportive, critical, and/or sarcastic partners. Women ask for Lindsey’s advice on how to do everything from prepare foods you’ll be willing to eat to how to convince you that seeing an alternative practitioner is important to her. And they e-mail her (and hundreds of other bloggers) because they can’t talk to us/you. We’ve made our affair with the girl at the ice cream shop off limits; what we eat hasn’t been up for discussion. It’s time to open up, gents.
Your wife shouldn’t have to research and create a pros/cons list to prove to you the benefits of anything. DO IT YOURSELF! Don’t leave her to fend for herself. It’s too big of a burden to carry alone. Be a man among men by allowing your wife to lead — with you having her back. Bonus points: step up and do what she may consider the sexiest thing ever — surprise her with a bunch of local, organic produce that you picked up at that veggie stand she’s always begging you to stop at instead of flowers that reek of the convenience store from which you bought them.
Back to Former me:
Self, let me tell you something about your wife. She’s relentless. Her voice matters. It matters to others, and it sure as heck matters to you.
Former me: What about the food? I mean, I don’t want to eat food that tastes like dirt. Doesn’t organic food taste like dirt? Isn’t all food already organic? I mean, it seems like a conspiracy to get people to buy really expensive food.
Present me: No, you ignorant beast! Good grief . First, organic food doesn’t taste like dirt. There are some amazingly incredible recipes for nearly all of the foods you already love. In fact, most of these foods will blow your mind to the point that you’ll wonder why you ever ate like you do now. I mean, margarine? REALLY??? For the love of everything holy, don’t ever consume that rancid mess again. Ever. Blah!!! …moving on. Second, no, not all food is already organic. And yes, it can be expensive. But I contest that the way you eat now can be just as expensive, if not more so! Check this out.
You should know that Brussels sprouts and parsnips will be making regular appearances. Embrace them! They’re delectable treats. Also, not all organic foods are healthy. LEARN TO READ LABELS! Honestly, if you can’t pronounce something in the ingredient list, kindly turn the package back around and put it back on the shelf. Carry on. But really, if they have to go through the trouble of creating a new font size because font size 6 is too large to fit all of the ingredients on the package, don’t put that mess in your body. Modified anything, hydrogenated anything, (dare I say it?) soy anything is. not. good. for. you! If you don’t understand why, consult your Google ally. Anywho, educate yourself. Self, it’s going to blow your mind the day you interject your opinions on matters of health and nutrition with others, especially the better half, and then those people begin asking you tough questions that you actually know the answers to!
Former me: Seriously? Other people actually care about this crap?
Present me: Yes. People actually care about bettering themselves. And it’s not crap. That Sonic Route 44 Dr. Pepper with cream in your hand is crap.
Former me: .
Present me: Look, this is a long, arduous road you’re getting on, but Self, you’re about to feel better than you ever thought you could.
Former me: I didn’t know I felt bad now.
Present me: Precisely. Your normal isn’t normal. You’ve just never known anything different. It’s ok to ask questions. I promise, there are going to be times that you literally question everything! That’s good. Asking questions will keep you engaged. Just remain teachable. Don’t go negative. Rather, ask questions because you’re intrigued and want to learn more; not because you want to prove anyone wrong.
I have an idea … Why don’t we keep this open dialog going over the coming weeks so you can ask me some of those hard questions?
To the audience who endured that inner monologue/pep talk with my former self:
This is part of a long and true story that I went through with myself and my wife. I really can’t begin to express how much I wish I could have actually had that conversation with a real person when we started this journey. My sweet wife didn’t give up on me, though; and we’ve made it to a place that we’re now able to have fun doing this “real food” life together! I’m grateful that she didn’t slap me with a fish in my sleep along the way (wild-caught, not farm raised ).
I welcome your comments and questions here. Ladies, feel free to use this as a place to air your frustrations. I won’t judge. Gentlemen, I welcome your questions, too. It doesn’t matter how stupid you might think they are. Asking questions doesn’t make you stupid. Asking questions makes you wise. Perhaps you can even surprise your partner by asking questions, learning, and sharing what you’ve learned! And if you’re a gentlemen who’s behind his wife 150% with all this stuff, then my hat goes off to you, sir. Well done.
Now, let’s talk about this!