Reader Question of the Week: Healthy Tug-O-War

'Questions?' photo (c) 2008, Valerie Everett - license: weekend I like to throw up a question someone sends in and let you readers have a go at it. This week a reader asks about conflict in marriage and cooking healthy meals.

My hubby and I are on totally different sides right now when it comes to food- I’m trying to change our diets to be healthier, but he just isn’t having any of it. He wants to keep eating junk, so I cook healthier versions for me and the kids and make him the junk, or I make the healthier stuff and listen to him complain. The tension between us is palpable, and it’s been like this for several weeks. I *know* I should submit, but I feel like I’m serving a death sentence with every bowl of pasta (he’s diabetic, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.). I’ve made some concessions (more gradual changes, “cheat” meals), but with all the hurt between is, they don’t seem to be helping. I’m struggling right now, our marriage is struggling on every level, and I’m just lost.

What advice would you give?

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  1. My marraige was like this for 23 years. We were both miserable. I did everything I could to try and get him to eat healthy…pout, manipulate, etc. I finally realized I could not change him. I sure wouldn’t want any one telling me how to eat as a grown adult. You should continue fixing food the way he likes it for him. Love and serve him and pray for him continually. My husband started eating better when his health got bad. Let God convict and change him. It is much more important to have a warm and loving marriage than it is for him to eat healthy.
    Lori recently posted…Unmaterialistic And Simple LivingMy Profile

    • I agree with Lori. If you’ve only got 20 more years with him, don’t spend them in a tug of war and control with him. This happened with my parents. It’s true that he is now dying from congestive heart failure in his late 70’s, but my physically healthy Mom died 2 years ago. She never succeeded in getting him to change his ways by (gasp) nagging, even though it was from love and concern for his health. Being right does not always make you correct in your actions.

      My advice is to shower him with love and acceptance. Pray for him, and thank the Lord for every day with him. Eat healthy and fix him what he likes. Don’t try to make him eat healthy, but lean towards healthier over time. Find what vegetable he likes and serve it often. Look for slightly healthier versions of his favorite foods, if he doesn’t like it, try a different one next time. Wings and celery sticks can be pretty healthy. Homemade pizza can be healthy and yummy. Keep healthier snacks around that he might eat. My hubby likes foods spicier than the rest of us, so I keep red pepper flakes and hot sauce on hand to jazz up foods for him. Talk to him about changes that are acceptable to him, and make it more about trying different things. Perhaps he would concede to one health(ier) meal per week, or to a salad before meals 3 times per week. Maybe he will not make any concessions at all. As a grown adult and the head of your home, I believe trying to force him to eat what you think is best will backfire, create tension, cause him to feel disrespect and mutiny from you. Love him. Pray.

    • I don’t think that any woman needs to be making two meals every night for her family. If she wants to eat healthy and is making healthy meals then that is what’s being served. He can find something else if he wants to. If he wants to be unhealthy that is his choice but it doesn’t mean that she needs to make a whole different meal just for him.
      I agree that she needs to be grateful for the time that she has with him and pray for him and for their marriage. I believe that he needs to realize that his wife is trying to help him. I also think that she needs to realize he isn’t a child and is going to make his own choices.
      Haley recently posted…New ClassMy Profile

  2. learning is fun! says:

    I think this husband needs to hear it laid out very plainly from his wife that this isn’t about submission. This is about making choices, and changing behaviors so that he doesn’t DIE. He’s had his chance at making his own food choices, and has failed miserably. Unless he wants to leave her a young widow, and their kids without a father, it’s time for him to smarten up. His doctor has likely already told him this. Maybe there are ways to make substitutions in meals that he DOES like, so that they’re healthier, but in the end, it comes down to a life or death decision, and if he chooses the junk food, he’ll be doing his own meal preparation, because the wife should not be forced into a position where she’s contributing to his demise.

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself, well put. He’s going to DIE. And she’ll be alone. Smarten up!!
      Jennifer Major @Jjumping recently posted…A few verses from the Book of Jennifer.My Profile

    • I agree. You want to have your husband be the guide of your family, but he is plainly leading himself to a place where he will NOT LIVE if he continues. I would try to show him just how much damage he is doing, and reinforce his doctor’s message, or ask him to speak to your husband again. Maybe if he hears how upset you are about it, and how you don’t want to lose your husband over JUNK FOOD, he will listen. I hope!

    • Well said! This is NOT a submission issue! He is setting a poor example for the entire family. As a wife we are called to be a “help” to our spouse in a productive way. Not help them into an early grave. Also, those are some pretty significant health issue that are named. Not only are they life threatening, but life disabling. I can’t help but wonder if there are not problems in the bedroom (a lot of the focus of this blog). The health issue listed in the question would definitely interfere with the erectile function in a man. NOT FAIR TO HIS WIFE, if that is the case. I see it as selfish on several levels and absolutely should be addressed by his wife.

    • My thoughts exactly. There is a very selfish bent here and he needs to look at the ramifications of his selfish decisions – leaving his family in a crisis when he dies young, or worse, having to be his caregiver depending on what happens health wise. All of which are a result of his selfishness. Call his doctor and ask him to lay it on the line. Bluntly. Again if he has already done so. Maybe even go with him to the appt. so you can ask the doctor some questions in his presence. On the Biggest Loser, so many of the contestants say they were able to “talk themselves” out of thinking things were as bad as they were. until they got the very blunt facts given to them. Then pray, pray, pray for him.

      I would also continue with the healthy meals for the family as diabeties is hereditary and you want your kids to learn good eating habits not only for their health, but in the event one of them ends up being diabetic so they have a healthy platform to work from.

  3. As a diabetic myself and as a child of a diabetic 2 time open heart bypass patient I can tell you one thing will always hold true…if a person is not willing to change there isn’t anything you can do about it except pray. Stop talking about it period and give it to God pray that He will change your husbands heart! However as a mother and wife it is your responsibility to provide food for your loved ones, he can complain all he wants but don’t treat him like a 2 yr old fixing special meals just because he won’t eat what you fix. You fix what’s best for your family and he can choose to eat it or not…there are plenty of ways to fix yummy foods on a healthier level. Does he like Mexican?? Fajitas are very healthy (they have SO many healthier tortillas now) and do low fat (not fat free) cream cheese…oh although studies are showing low fat and fat free isn’t best for diabetics (when you separate fat from products it causes the sugar level to be higher plus fat is good to help break down sugars) I feel like I’m writing a book! I hope this helps and have a ton more thoughts and ways and recipes to eat healthier without leaving out taste…comment me back and I’ll be glad to give you my email info and we can “chat” :) praying for his health and that God would soften his heart
    Amy recently posted…Women’s Bible StudyMy Profile

  4. While we can’t control what our husbands do, we also cannot enable them to do things that are knowingly dangerous. The Lord is specific about how we should treat our temples. That said, I think your attention should be to submit to the Lord and then also submit it to Him.

    Continue to do the right thing and only buying and feeding your family healthy things and if he needs to eat unhealthy, he’ll need to do it for himself.

    This is the case where a healthy, non-controlling boundary needs to be made. He should be reassured that it’s not out of control but out of what’s best for the family as a whole and never waiver in love and attention towards him.

    Do it all joYfully and lovingly.Make sure the tension is one sided.
    Jennifer recently posted…My BodyMy Profile

  5. Get the book “The Smarter Science of Slim” and ask your husband to follow the food guidelines for at least 21 days. He will feel so much better and the sugar cravings will go down. Sugar and carbs like pasta are addicting. After 21 days he will have more energy, sleep better, and feel healthier. You can go to to get started with all sorts if free information.

  6. You can’t MAKE him eat what you want him to eat, plain and simple. However, you don’t have to make his unhealthy meals, either. If that’s what he wants to eat, let him cook his own dinner. Would you fix several different meals for each of your children? I’m guessing not. Make one dinner. Whoever doesn’t want it can get something for themselves!

  7. Boundary time.

    Here’s what boundaries are about: You cannot control him. But you can control yourself. It sounds like you’re the one who primarily cooks the meals in the house. So here’s what I suggest:

    “Husband, I am the one who does the cooking. And I am not going to make two separate meals at dinner time. It is unreasonable for me to do that. I will make the dinner I make. If you do not like it, that is fine, but please do not complain about it. You are free to make your own dinner if you do not like what I have prepared.”

    As far as his health, I understand your concern. Believe me, I do. I have a family member who is morbidly obese and it drives all of us absolutely crazy that they don’t take responsibility for their issues and change something. But it has to be HIS CHOICE. Unfortunately you cannot force him. I know how frustrating that is. But by pushing the issue, he’s digging his heels in deeper. Just let it go, and pray for him. I know that’s hard. But truly, it’s better than fighting about it all the time.
    Melissa recently posted…SavorMy Profile

  8. Let me hit this from the man’s point of view. I was faced with the same thing. My wife would try and make health food for us, but it was generally horrible. There were many times that she wouldn’t eat it, because of the taste, but expect us to. She didn’t worry about her high cholesterol, but nagged my about mine. So, my way around that was to eat what I wanted behind her back. Of course, that didn’t solve anything.

    Then one day, my doctor told me I had high everything, including being pre-diabetic. Okay, I had to make a decision. My wife couldn’t do it for me. So, I did make a decision; the decision to change my diet. HOWEVER, that didn’t mean that I suddenly liked the health food she’d been trying to get me to eat; in fact, I basically ignored it. What I did was find ways of making no sugar, low carb (low fat, low salt, low cholesterol and no caffeine too) food that I did like. That was the challenge. Now, I make my own no fat cheese spread for my low carb crackers; my own low fat, low sugar salad dressing, with a yogurt base and a bunch of other things.

    Oh, and by the way, my favorite foods are pasta and sandwiches. Two definite no-nos for me. So, I eat spaghetti squash for my pasta and make my own no-salt, low fat lunch meat. I’m still working on coming up with a low-carb bread, but I make lettuce wraps for now.

    It has to be his decision. But, what will help the decision is if there are foods he likes, that he can eat. That’s going to take some imagination and experimentation. I’m still working on coming up with my own recipes for things that I can eat, which don’t have all that stuff I’m not supposed to eat.

    To the various ladies that basically said, “You’ve got to tell him…” that’s called nagging. She’s not going to get anywhere doing that. In fact, he may be thinking in the back of his mind, “So what if I die, at least I won’t have to put up with any more of this.” Nagging never gets you anywhere, love does. If you want him to change, find a loving way to make him want to change. That’s a whole lot more effective when you ladies do that to your husbands, than it is when we try to do it with you.
    Rich Murphy recently posted…Loving Her in Her CarMy Profile

    • THIS! This one. I was trying to figure out how to respond, and I completely agree with Mr. Murphy. I think this is the biggest problem we (women) get into with our husbands. We come to a conclusion that we think is right (and may be generally right; may even be a matter of life and death), and we treat our husbands like they’re children. “This is how it is, this is what I’ve decided, and you have to do what I say!” And our husbands recoil. They either fight or withdraw or submit, but resentfully so. And it creates that tension.

      I think the reader is well within her rights to explain to her husband how concerned and how worried she is. That is totally okay. But it has to be, “I love you and I’m really, really worried. I want to feed you food you like, but the thought of serving you something that might kill you makes me feel ill.” Not, “I’m making this food and you have to eat it without complaint or make your own food.” That second thing is what you say to your kids when they complain about what you make.

      If you make it a team effort, he’s more likely to participate and to feel like you’re loving him, not just trying to make him tow the line. Ask if he would help you brainstorm some ideas for meals that are healthy and that appeal to him. Do some of your own research, too. Ask his doctor, or see a dietician. Browse recipes on the internet. Marriage is about teamwork, not about one partner dictating what the other must do (even if one is convinced the other is wrong; even if the other is wrong). As one of the other commenters said, you would probably be extremely resentful if your husband did to you what the reader said she was doing to him, even and especially if you knew he was right. You would feel way more loved if he made it a teamwork thing than if he dictated what you should do or how you should eat, live, dress, etc.

  9. I’ve found that with almost anything, it’s easier to get my husband to do something if he feels like it’s his idea. Obviously he’s not going to just decide to eat healthy all of a sudden, but he can start making healthy decisions in other areas. Try starting an exercise program together (and by “program”, I just mean take a daily walk or jog together to begin with). Exercise can make a person feel better immediately, and it always gets my husband thinking about improving his health in general– insert the “his idea” part.

    You also might try phasing out certain foods, like desserts, and replacing them with healthier alternatives. With the popularization of Pinterest, there’s now easy access to tons of tasty, yet semi-healthy desserts! My favorite blog for this is http://www.chocolatecoveredkatie,com. I’m a former sugar addict myself, and I can rarely tell a difference between her healthy desserts and the nasty alternatives.

    The bottom line, as has been mentioned in previous comments, is that he’s never going to want to do this if he feels like you’re forcing him. Expressing real concern for his well-being without getting worked up will go way farther towards reaching a solution than a heated discussion.

    Good luck!

  10. What a tough position to be in!

    I agree with the others – it has to be your husband’s choice to change his diet AND it is unreasonable for you to cook two meals. Did you cook seperate meals for everybody when your kids complained they didn’t like something? I know I don’t – my family eats what I put on the table. And I eat it too – healthy or not.

    In a loving, kind way, speak to your husband about your concerns for his health – ask his input on meals. It might be that the healthy stuff tatest horrible, but we all know it doesn’t have to. It might be that he just prefers a different kind of meal. Remember, it isn’t just good for him, it is good for ALL of you.

    And if he chooses not to eat your meals and to make his own food, his own way, the loving thing to do is to accept that, though it won’t be easy.
    Love him, pray for him.

    • I disagree. I don’t think it’s loving at all to cook things you know your husband doesn’t like, just to give him the option of making his own food. That’s just a passive-aggressive way of saying what some above are saying – my way or no way.

  11. My Mum used to make diabetic food for my Dad and he would just choose the regular dessert and leave us to eat the diabetic one… when she measured his portions he went back into the kitchen and got more. I assume he was still hungry. Now I’ve been told that I have inherited his diabetes. Put yourself in your husband’s shoes. It’s hard when a doctor tells you that you will probably die young, have done permanent damage to yourself already etc. It is hard to get your head around the fact you will have to take insulin shots and alter your lifestyle. Diabetic medication is very expensive and not everyone has health coverage to take it. Try to make small changes at first. Then gradually go on to bigger things. More exercise can help — go for long walks with your husband or work out at the gym with him. I hate salad “rabbit food” too — and it is very hard to instantly change your palate. I personally wish my husband would quit drinking alcohol but I can’t make him do that either. Just thankful he finally quit smoking! One step at a time…. we are all responsible for ourselves and our choices however we do need to realize how that affects those around us. Good luck. And try not to nag or be the convicting Holy Spirit to your husband. He probably feels bad enough as it is!

  12. I think that in order to give a specific answer we’d need more information. How old is this husband? What type of diabetes are we talking about? Is he getting help from a medical professional about it, like a dietician? What was the family’s life style before the desire change to a healthier lifestyle? How old are the children, and what is their response to the changes in the family’s diet?

    Any advice given will be lacking somewhere, since we don’t know the specifics. But after talking the question and some of the comments over with my own husband I decided to give my 2 cents as well.

    During my second pregnancy I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and put on a very strict, but affective diet. We live in Israel and there is much less processed food available here, so overall our diet is a lot healthier than that of people in North America and Europe. Never the less it was very hard to be so very restricted in what I could eat and when. I think it’s important to mention that the diet of someone with diabetes is very hard. It’s hard to make the change and it’s hard to stick with it when everyone around you is enjoying the foods you’d like to eat as well. Thankfully the delivery of my baby ‘cured’ me of my diabetes.

    My husband is over weight (5’8, 300 pounds). He was already on the heavier side and had been on various diets when we met. We’ve been married for 7 years now, and in these years he has only gained weight and never tried to loss any, until he started a diet about 4 months ago (so far he’s lost about 30 pounds). He’d eat chips and sweets and drink sodas. He’d put these on the grocery list for me to get or he’d go with me to the store and just put the things he wanted in the cart himself. (I really appreciated him going with me to the store and help me carry everything)

    I’d asked him if it would have helped if I’d have not bought his ‘junk food’ or ‘nagged a lot’ about healthier eating and if this would have ‘helped’ him to start a diet sooner. He answered that it wouldn’t have helped at all. He would have bought his own ‘junk food’ and he would have been very annoyed at me. He knows very well that chips are not healthy and that carrot sticks are better for you. He knows that it’s better to drink water than sodas. He can see that his cloths are tight and he can see himself in the mirror. He started his diet, when he was ready to make the change. He now is drinking mostly water, but he still doesn’t like carrot sticks ;-).

    However my husband doesn’t have diabetes or any other health problems due to his weight. He has had the same family doctor for most of his life, who used to ‘bug’ him about losing weight, but even the doctor stopped, because unless you’re motivated to live healthier, it doesn’t help. If there really is a medical reason for a drastic change of diet I think that a health professional should try to do the convincing and his/her advice should be taken seriously. A loving wife can and should offer support, but shouldn’t be the driving force. The husband needs to want to make the changes.

  13. While the first few posts were correct in that this is a life and death matter, they are all just fancy ways of saying that nagging, demanding, manipulating and standing your ground because you are right is the way to go. I was especially horrified by the “one-sided tension” comment. That’s the definition of manipulation. If you really want to infuriate him, by all means follow that advice.

    Bottom Line: No one will change unless they are personally disatisfied enough to welcome a change.

    After all, at some point you reached a point where you were dissatisfied enough to change your diet (I’m assuming here that your diet has not always been this healthy). It’s a shame you both did not become disatisfied at the same time, but you didn’t, so here you are. Melissa gave some good advice above in that it is unrealistic to cook 2 meals and so you shouldn’t and that you need to back off, let it go and just pray for him.

    I recommend you back off completely about his diet. Before you go shopping lay out a complete menu for the week and let the whole family help you fill it in. Everyone (including hubby) gets to pick a meal or two and you write it down. Then when you shop you can buy the meals they chose. Then you can work to make the meals hubby and kids want to eat, healthier (like Rich was describing) without nagging and making a big deal out of doing it, just do it. You might be surprised at how well they like it if they don’t have to listen to lectures about how healthy it is. Now, some meals might be just a bridge too far and are just going to be ridiculously unhealthy no matter how hard you try. Just creatively limit those types of meals on the weekly menu, but don’t refuse them or make 2 meals on those nights.

    Hopefully, over time, your hubby will be less and less irritated by the idea of healthy eating since you have dropped the subject and made attempts to work what he likes into the weekly menu. Maybe he will eventually develop his own personal dissatisfaction with his diet and see the benefits of healthier choices before he has major health issues.

    Summary: Drop the subject, incude everyone in meal planning, make the meals healthier over time, stop cooking 2 meals, even on the unhealthy nights, allow your hubby to develop his own dissatisfaction, pray, above all do not nag, manipulate, or demand anything from hubby.

  14. I think much of this is in the approach of the wife. Wording like “The kids and I want to have you around for a long time, what can I do to help you to eat properly” may lead him in the right direction. Forcing the issue is most likely only making him feel controlled and perhaps leading to rebellion. Consider a visit with a Registered Dietitian where you both go and listen to him/her lay out a healthy meal plan. Ultimately it is his choice but perhaps a gentle respectful approach would work.

  15. another wife says:

    I agree it has to be his choice and more importantly (for men) his idea. My husband was a daily heavy drinker for years, I was worried about his health and his awful behavior. He would drink several sodas each evening to wash down cups of vodka, whiskey or everclear. He put on weight, his blood pressure was dangerously high (170/130), he has kidney problems and depression. A few months ago he had an appt with a new dr. He wanted to discuss his kidney problems and get some ed meds. This dr told him his heart was skipping beats, his bp was high b/c of his drinking and he needed to get it under control before he killed himself. He stopped drinking that night. He’s had a few drinks in the last month but nothing like the 16-25oz he’d been consuming each night. It really has to be his idea–he will not be told what to do even when he knows he’s wrong.

  16. I think that unfortunately you can not force him to change. Do what you can as far fixing healthy meals that he can eat that taste the same, I think you called them cheats. Make sure he knows your worries and concerns and depending on the age of your children let them talk to him about their worries and concerns about his eating habits too. After that just pray and pray and pray some more, I would even ask him to pray with you that God helps him to change so he can stay healthy and live a long life with you.

    I am just began reading a book called Real Marriage the Truth About Sex, Friendship & Life Together by Mark and Grace Driscoll. I was married before for 9 years had a messy divorce swore I would never marry again and then met my husband. We were married by a justice of the peace this past April and now that we found a church we are getting remarried in front of God our friends and our family in two weeks. So I am not the expert, but some of the things I am learning in this book (fyi just on page 14) are great. I would recommend reading the book and I pray that you are able to find some answers.
    Wendi recently posted…It occurred to me that smiling is great.My Profile

  17. I agree with the commenters who say that nagging won’t work. Men have an automatic response to nagging that includes ignoring it and/or digging in their heels and getting more stubborn. It may help, however, to mention concern and that you want him to be around for many years for you and your children. It has to be done gently though and not at a time when you’re already arguing about the issue.

    What I don’t know is what kind of “healthy” and “junk” foods we are talking about here. If his idea of food is potato chips and sodas, yes that’s cause for concern. On the other hand, if she is trying to fix tofu and bean sprouts all the time as a healthy alternative, I can understand him not liking it. There are lots of healthy meals that taste good. Find healthy foods that he likes. Too many people think that it needs to be all veggie stuff to be healthy, but lean meats, dairy, and whole grains are also healthy. You don’t need to go overboard and get all your food from a “health food store” to eat healthy. Steam veggies and add cheese sauce, roast meats or use a crockpot instead of frying, use butter, add some salt or other seasonings. In other words, choose unprocessed foods as much as possible, but fix them so they taste good.

    I have several recipes on my blog that are healthy, but tasty and easy to make. They are not “health foods,” but they are balanced healthy meals. My husband has actually lost weight since we got married and he LOVES my cooking. He says he eats better now than he ever has before in his life. His favorite is my roast chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and steamed green beans. You don’t have to eat food that tastes like cardboard or grass to be healthy.

    As for making two meals, I don’t think that is reasonable. Make a meal and if he doesn’t like it, he can eat something else. Don’t be mean about it, but tell him that it isn’t fair for you to have to make two meals. However, try to make things he likes fairly often. It’s better for him to eat pizza or pasta that you make, even if it isn’t the healthiest choice, than to pig out on cheese curls because he didn’t want a salad.
    Lindsay Harold recently posted…Beef and Cheese EnchiladasMy Profile

  18. I’d advise each of the adults in the household to choose thier own eating habits according to their own values. It’s permissible for an adult to prefer healthy foods. It’s also permissible for an adult to choose otherwise. Adults do not make each other’s decisions.

    Therefore, I suggest she cook and serve what pleases her. If her husband asks her to do him a few favors, such as picking up his favorite foods when she shops, or even preparing them for him, she is free to do that from a kind heart, if her conscience allows it… but she is not required to do so, and she should wait until he asks. He is an adult and is perfectly able to secure and prepare food according to his own tastes, so she is not placing herself above him if she simply chooses not to help him make self-destructive choices. She’s not standing in his way. She’s just not helping.

    There is no need to argue about this, because each person retains their freedom and does not need to press the other person to change. You need not nag, manipulate or try to control him — just prepare a good meal and be pleasant about it. Let him make his own choices without any ill-feeling from your attitude.

  19. My hubby is working on loosing some weight, as am I. but we also have 2 different ideas about what is ‘healthy’. We both agree that chips, soda (regular kind) and such are not good for you. However, he is all about getting a ‘low-fat’ diet… diet soda (no sugar), and no-fat milk. I’m not convinced that these things are neither good nor bad, much less good (I am leaning towards the trend that the low-fat diet is actually what is working against weight loss). So, my advice would really depend on what she is calling ‘junk’ and calling ‘healthy’. I really think healthy is the least processed version — full fat milk, real butter, real meat.

    This really sounds like a need for a conversation. Express your fears, I’d say to her. But then let him share his fears, if he has any. If he is up for it, go further and talk about diet changes, but it might be time to give up your idea of ‘healthy’.

    All that said, cooking 2 meals is unreasonable. Let him have a say for a meal or two, like the kids do, but then what’s for dinner is for dinner. Often encouraging someone to embrace an idea means letting them have a stake in it and giving him some say in whats for dinner gives him a stake. If he is a big whiner, ask him to cook for one night and eat what he makes… even if its mac-n-cheese from a box.

    But don’t demand, don’t nag. Nobody likes that.
    Rachael recently posted…Introducing Doctor DestructoMy Profile

  20. If i read and understand the question correctly – you threw him for a loop with the dietary changes and he doesn’t like it – so he’s rebelling. If I flip this around to something he did and you had to go along, how would you feel?
    In marriage, everything is about mutual submission, so I would venture to say its a matter of how its done and taking his feelings in to consideration. Making dietary changes are good and having everyone on board is even better as his rebellion could ultimately sabotage the plan. Appeal to his smarts and let him be a part of the menu selection. Help him to understand why you’re doing this. It will take time, but once he realizes that you’re not trying to make him miserable but have everyone’s best interest at heart he should come around; and if he doesn’t well, keep eating healthy!
    nylse recently posted…EquippedMy Profile

  21. First, this is not a submission issue. This is a matter of safety and health for all involved. If he was drinking and wanted to drive you all home you would not step in the car with him. Likewise you cannot allow your family to suffer for his poor lifestyle choices.
    Secondly, just as much as you would not fix a different meal for a fussy toddler you should not be doing the same thing for your husband. If he wants to eat poorly then he can go to the store and get those things and fix them. This will decrease his likelihood of eating them.
    Bottom line, he needs to be responsible for his health and needs to understand how his decisions in this area are affecting himself, his children (who will learn from his poor habits) and your marriage.
    Change is hard for anyone but it is worth it.

  22. I would cook for him and the family healthy foods, because I would not knowingly push my husband towards an early grave, especially with his diabetes. However, the submission would come in the area of nagging. What he chooses to buy and put into his mouth, as a grown man, I would have to let go and give up to the Lord. If I had to live the rest of my life knowing my husband had some sort of nagging comment or heaving sigh about every bite of food that went into my mouth, I might go crazy.

  23. A great website that I’ve come across is
    It’s a good place to start to make some small healthy changes.
    Nagging definitely will not help. My husband and I both have family histories of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol/blood pressure. I wanted to make some changes in our diet and my husband wasn’t on board. I tried nagging and it didnt work (for like 2-3 years). What did work, was that i talked to him about my goals for my health and our family and I asked him if he would be a part of working toward making our family healthier with food choices and exercise. We’ve made a lot of little changes over the past 12 months. There have been some things we tried that we didn’t like, but overall I feel like we are moving forward in a healthier direction.

  24. From our eyes it seems like a simple matter of ‘if he doesn’t change he will DIE,’ but the truth is that only God knows when he will die and when YOU will die, and there’s no guarantee that you will outlive him, even if he continues eating in a way that would seem to lead straight to death.

    We have a similar situation in my household. My advice is to take your concerns to God and stop bringing them up to your husband–he knows how you feel already and that hasn’t changed him.

    As far as what to serve for dinner, what we do is provide lots of options. Make what he likes, but also offer healthy sides for those who want to eat healthy food. We live in Mexico, so we always have corn tortillas, beans and salsa to compliment the meal (read: healthy and easy–a crockpot of beans lasts a long time in the fridge). A North American variation could be a fresh salad or chopped raw veggies with lemon instead of dressing, fruit, whole grain bread, etc. You’re providing a healthy option for those who want it, but not cutting into what he wants.

  25. We ALL die, and I sure wouldn’t want to die after years and years of hearing my husband nag me to do something I don’t want to do. Also, consider that some of the things you consider healthy may not be. I have friends who go all-out on every food fad, thinking they’re being super-healthy, and actually harming their bodies. One ended up hospitalised for pancreantitis because of following a food fad.

    Regardless of some of the above opinions, this is all about submission! What else could it be? Except possibly trusting your husband to look out for the good of his family … Wanting to eat junk food is not a sin issue where a wife is commanded to obey God instead of her husband. Julie has an excellent suggestion to add healthy side dishes to unhealthy meals. Other than that, my advice is to drop it completely and pray for him to desire a more healthy lifestyle. And don’t bring it up again until he asks.

  26. You could try making healthier versions of the things he likes. There are so many great recipes out there! I don’t know what he likes, but there are a lot of sneaky substitutions that taste great!
    Try recipes from:
    Maybe he will like the healthier versions of foods he loves.
    Chili’s, Spaghetti, Casseroles, Soups, etc can be made delicious and healthy.
    GOd Bless!
    Cheryl Linder recently posted…Rescued, Redeemed, ForgivenMy Profile

  27. At first when i read the question i thought it was about eating heathly. There is alot more here than just food. She states that there has been alot of hurt between them and her marriage is struggling on every level. While healthy eating is a good thing, sounds like it is low on the priority list of what other things that need to be addressed.

  28. living in blurred lines says:

    Question: why is it that when a wife said a husband to do something more than once, it is “nagging.”. If a husband does the same thing, the wife’s supposed to submit.

    Another question: why are we so hung up on this stupid word “nag.”. I swear it is a sexist word people use to shut down a woman who has real thoughts, questions and concerns. Maybe we should focus on the disrespect, laziness, and disregard of the spouse ignoring his wife and shutting her down rather than just telling her not to be a nag. If I repeatedly left hubby’s tools laying around and he repeatedly told me to please put them away when done and I said, “quit nagging me. This is who I am,” all heck would break loose. If i repeatedly asked my husband to improve his health or pick up his socks, I’m a nag and should just let him be.

    • I think this is a really good point, and I’d like to expand on it a bit. I think maybe on Tuesday this week I’ll write a post about “can men nag, too?”, and look at what nagging really means, and what it doesn’t mean. We should be able to communicate our needs to our spouses, after all, without it falling under the banner of “nagging”. So let’s take a better look at that!

  29. living in blurred lines says:

    One more thought: before the word “nag” escapes your lips in regard to your spouse’s repeated pleadings, you had better evaluate your end of the deal here and see where you are wrong. Laziness and selfishness on your part does NOT give you the right to shut down your bride with such a demeaning word when likely she is “nagging” out of loving concern or hopes for better for the both of you….ie. health. Man up and take care of yourself. Quit destroying the temple God gave you just because you are too darn lazy and selfish. Once you get off the junk, you’ll be surprised how good real food really tastes.

    • “living in blurred lines”, I wondered the same thing. I’m not interested in arguing on an online forum (even less so on a Christian one!), so I’ll only say that I feel blessed to be in a marriage where, whoohoo, I get to have an opinion, and even voice it, without me having to wear the Nag Hat of Feminine Shame. My husband has an opinion and a voice too, and we share these wonderful gifts lovingly with each other, and are even allowed to differ in them from time to time.

      As far as the Healthy Tug O War dilemma goes, no, you can’t force anyone to change. You can lovingly express concern where there is a legitimate issue, however, and diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease are (I would hope, clearly) issues that need to be addressed with lifestyle changes including dietary shifts. I wonder if some of the suggestions to “not nag” him into making changes would be so blithe if this were a matter of a spouse refusing to take medication for these conditions.

      In any event, I would suggest having an open discussion about meals. I know you write that you’ve been trying concessions, cheat meals, and gradual shifts; I would only ask if he’s been part of the process? If not, perhaps you could include him in the meal-planning process. What foods does he most crave? There are healthier versions of many ‘junk’ foods, as many others have mentioned–Sweet potatoes and cassava are often recommended for those with diabetes; either one oven roasted could be a tasty substitute for french fries, for example.

      Are you all able to have open discussions about his health challenges? I can understand your strong feelings of responsibility, as the one preparing the meals; at the same time, I can see where your husband could be feeling frustrated, defensive, angry, limited, amongst other things, as he finds himself facing restrictions and some potentially scary health issues (I’m not sure if he’s newly diagnosed or if this is a long-time struggle). If you haven’t yet, and it’s possible to do so when you’re both calm, I would suggest talking about his feelings about his health challenges. Might he be tense and angry about feeling that these health conditions (rather than so much you) are shaping and controlling his life, and rebelling and lashing out against those? This may not be, but if you haven’t already, I do encourage you to communicate openly about his feelings as he tackles these health challenges.

      I pray you find a solution that works for both of you.

    • living in blurred lines: excellent reply, thank you.

  30. I didn’t read all the comments, most of the ones I did came off kinda harsh for him. my husband and I struggle with this now and what I found is that I hadn’t considered his opinion. so, I asked him what he didn’t like about eating healthier and he answered me and we were able to find common ground that way. perhaps your husband just doesn’t like the way this hope your food is prepared. there are lot of different versions of health food, most of which are not healthy at all. I’d recommend looking into the GAPS diet, you can go through the intro or not but it is good for those who are diabetic or pre diabetic, and is more about healing the body through food and understanding the relationship between food and health.
    the other things that I did was communicate to my husband how I felt about his food choices. he was diagnosed with stomach cancer just a few days before our fourth anniversary. he told me on our anniversary that he might not make it to our fifth, that he didn’t want to go with conventional modern medicine nor change his diet. I was hurt by this because it was as if we didn’t matter. so I asked him what was more important to him: his taste buds and stomach or his family. then I let it go and just prayed.
    now we take it day by day meal by meal.

    • Oh Boy this subject came up just this past weekend with hubby on our monthly date. Hubby has high blood pressure , diabetes and whole assortment of ailments including medically induced ED. Add to the mix we have a 15 year old son who has a congenital esophagus defect that affects his swallow and 2 other preteens in the house. We don’t practice the “must eat everything on your plate rule with our kids but we do talk about heath and nutrition.
      So how do I as the wife help everyone including the adults eat healthy. Well I PRAY about hubby and the kids. I also am always looking for ways to include a more healthier option for snack and meals, I am always researching ways to get more nutrition in and less junk in.
      There are all kinds of ways to get healthy. Google what ever snack that you want to replace with the words do it yourself recipe and healthy. Also get everyone involved in the process so that everyone owns it that way you are not nagging but creating one more bond in your family. Thanks for a timely Blog Sheila

  31. You can’t control what he puts in his mouth and you’ve gotten great feedback already just remember you are not his mother and maybe he feels like you’re mothering him right now? Sounds like a nice dinner out at a restaurant with just the two of you ordering WHATEVER you want with no pressure is in order and then over dessert and coffee/wine discuss why you want to eat better, ask him to make a list of foods he likes that are healthy, what he hates about it, what he feels he’s giving up,etc and just LISTEN …. the other thing is unless this is a health crisis RIGHT NOW gradual changes are ok … there are some really yummy paleo type sites out there, maybe agree to serve one meal a week of pasta and garlic bread and try to serve healthier options otherwise? …
    Holly recently posted…Warrior Prayers … praying for your sonsMy Profile

  32. I didn’t read every comment, but I’m surprised that I didn’t see any regarding the husband’s emotional well-being, and psychological health, which can be a huge part of eating junk food. Eating rich foods is an addiction and feels good with our hormones and brain receptors. Oftentimes eating is a way to mask our feelings. If the man is getting bad news about his health he probably feels even more desire to bury his feelings with food. Maybe the “new healthy food” doesn’t taste as good, and isn’t fulfilling his cravings.

    If the plan doesn’t come from within him he will probably fight it as part of his nature, not because he wants to die or because he doesn’t care.

    I would talk about how he feels and if he feels like his diet has completely spiraled out of control and he can’t do anything about it. The comments about the husband with bad hygiene comes to mind- sometimes men come up with some crazy idea that is perfectly logical to them, when all we can see is that he needs to brush his teeth and he’s not brushing his teeth, for example. Perhaps this perfectly logical good man is eating crap because he thinks he’s improving or something. In talking to him his loving wife can find out what changes he finds doable, and what changes she can implement without driving him away.

    If I were going about this in my own family I would do 2 things, 1 try to eat healthy foods we like more often and 2 come up with a plan of foods we will not ‘carry’ in our home, such as processed foods, or at least chips and soda. I would be willing to bake cookies, and have certain treats, but not have ice cream for example. (you can just make a plan on these things together, and then buy his favorite treat but not other treats) Then we could discuss meal planning. For my husband meal planning is NOT FUN and he is practically unwilling to participate, but if I give him a list of foods he’ll say yes or no or (yes please and I don’t care is more like it). My sister in law loved shopping with her husband when they were newlyweds going down each aisle and discussing almost every item so she could learn what he liked. This isn’t really fun in my marriage but every once in a while when we shop together it can be enlightening. There are foods I just don’t buy that my husband likes or is willing to eat.

    I think making a plan to eat yummy healthy foods such as more vegetables can be a more positive and united effort during this difficult time and more worth the energy than trying to prevent him from eating junk foods. I love salads with berries and candied nuts, veggies dipped in hummus and other dips, artichoke dipped in butter, and sharp cheddar cheese on fuji apples. Some dips are not complete health foods but they are real food and yummy. You might buy veggie platters and have fresh foods out on the counters at all times, like mixed nuts or trail mix, and salad in the fridge. You might want to find some really yummy salad dressings like Brianna’s brand which are healthy- they have healthy oils, and aren’t many calories. Then you can try to compromise and serve things hubby likes but also keep it under 1000 calories of trans fat.

    I think you will be happier sharing fruits and vegetables and real foods as much as possible and dealing with the real emotions going on, (hey i love you and don’t want you to die- i feel helpless and like it doesn’t matter what i eat because the harm is already done) and recognize that the feelings of frustration and anger and resentment are because of the big trial you’re going through not because you don’t love each other and you need God to heal your hearts and not focus all of your attention on the junk food.

    I think this is a feasible challenge to work through and that some of the work you do to get through this will make your relationship better, by talking about your real feelings of concern for each other, going for daily walks with each other or other activity, and discovering foods you like to share with each other. If you focus on the negative you will feel miserable all the time. You don’t have to do that, even though it takes more energy to better the situation. Obviously you’re doing your best and your husband is being challenging. I wish you all the best, and will pray for you.

  33. Prayer is the key. In many ways, we can all be stubborn in one way or another. However, through prayer, God can show you what areas you where you can improve and then how you can approach your husband in a way that is welcoming and effective for him. I know this from experience.

    Sometimes it may involve being silent on the things that you are concerned about, at least for a few days because while we think we are helping our husbands when we discuss things with them, they often look at it as nagging. Try to show him love and respect. I recommend using “The Five Love Languages” because that’s a way to communicate with him as well.

    Be patient and allow God to work on his lifestyle changes. Ask God to help your husband recognize his need for healthier eating. Focus on keeping yourself healthy and keeping hubby in prayer because the only One who will help him to change permanently is God.
    Tiffany Godfrey, The Committed Wife recently posted…What Oil Do You Have Left in Your Marriage?My Profile

  34. My husband was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic several years ago now. I was scared and unsure about what he should and shouldn’t be eating. The best thing that happened to us in that period was the doctor sending us to see a nutritionist for classes. One of the first things that she said to us as non-diabetic “support” people was that we could not make our loved one eat properly. She told everyone in the room that it has to be the diabetic persons choice to eat properly or they will never follow through with it. She went on to explain what healthy eating looks like. It was a great time for both my husband and I, mostly because it helped us to both get on the same page.

    I went through a period (totally unrelated to food and diabetes) in my marriage where I was really mad at my husband. I was hurt by many things that were going on in our marriage. I didn’t think there was any possible way that I could let it all go. Someone told me that I was not responsible to change my husband. In fact, I could not do that. Instead, I am responsible for my actions and my choices. God required that I forgive my husband and work on my own attitudes and my relationship with God and my husband. She told me that she had written down in a private place the things that were bothering her. She then started to earnestly pray for her husband. So, I tried that. And I found that as I prayed for my husband, I began to forgive him. I started to see the areas that I needed to change and I stopped focusing on my husband. Things got much better (this particular incident was 10 years ago). There are still times when I have to employ the same tactics. But, I am aware of them faster than I was back then. I know that God will help me.

  35. I am getting your blog via email! Thanks for all you do.

  36. What about cooking the healthy food (which can and is delicious) during the week and loosening up on the weekend. Obviously not going completely overboard, but serving the ‘junk’ with salad on the side or a fruit type dessert with chocolate sauce.

    My husband’s mother ‘murdered’ lots of vegetables, so when I married him, he really didn’t like them at all. I cooked/prepared them differently and now he loves all the veg he used to hate.

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  1. […] this weekend I threw up a reader question on this blog about what to do when your husband’s poor eating habits are endangering his […]

  2. […] Saturday I posted a Reader Question with this scenario: the husband has diet-related health issues, yet refuses to change what he eats. […]

  3. […] Saturday I posted a Reader Question with this scenario: the husband has diet-related health issues, yet refuses to change what he eats. […]

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