In a couple differences can sometimes mean big problems. Other times they can be what makes the couple stronger, and cover each other’s shortcomings, and grow together.
However when it comes to food, eating habits, eating patterns, and types of diet, it can be tricky to not argue. After all, food is the basis of our daily life, it shows the world a multitude of our choices, it affects our health, and it can say a lot about us.
Today we’re going to help you deal in the best possible way with your couple’s different eating habits. There’ll be a short answer here, then we’ll get into more detail as the article goes on.
So how do you deal with different eating habits in a couple ?
In short, you respect each other’s differences. Talk about it, openly and honestly, and have some ideas in mind as to how you can make you relationship work, despite having opposing ideas about food, or very different eating schedules.
Your ability to make this work is dictated by your willingness to compromise, give space when needed, and not criticize or nag.
Some bad eating habits can be changed, but it is up to your partner to be willing to let them go. Discuss them together.
Now how do these ideas translate into applicable, everyday things you can do ? Let’s get into some detail here
1. Set your own standards for food
In that, while your partner is very important, and you’d like to do everything together, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you can’t eat the same food or from the same plate, even if you want to be romantic.
Maybe you eat meat, and your partner doesn’t. Or maybe you eat regular food and your partner is on a diet. Or maybe you want your dessert before your food, and your S.O. can’t stand that.
Maybe one of you eats too fast.
Whatever the case, you like the food you like, because of reasons you know. If your partner would rather eat something else, it’s alright to have different opinions on this.
Maintain your standards for your food, related to taste, nutrition, ethics, and whatever else concerns you. And let your partner do the same.
2. Cook separately, or in combinations
When you cook, you could think of dishes that have some flexibility to them. For example, let’s say one of you has regular food, and one of you is vegetarian. You could try:
- Plain basmati rice, with vegetarian curry sauce separately, chicken drums separately, and some tofu or cauliflower separately. Then, you can mix and match according to what you’d like to eat.
- Polenta with cottage cheese and sour cream, with some sausage separately. The polenta with the cheese and sour cream is filling on its own, and the regular-eating partner can just add some sausage if the want meat.
- Salad base(your favorite salad mix), split into 2 bowls, one vegetarian and one with meat.
You get the point. Whatever you end up cooking, don’t make it all in one pot, so that if you don’t want to eat any meat or animal products, your food won’t be touched by them.
The same applies if your are ordering in. Whatever you order in, make sure it’s something you can mix and match, and you’ll both be fine.
Of course, if you cook separately, there will be more cooking time, and more pots to watch, and more dishes to wash.
But you can make this a couple’s activity, ask your partner to join ! Even if they’re a complete disaster in the kitchen, they can boil rice.
Basmati rice is not even meant to be stirred, all you have to do is add 1:3 rice to water, add salt, let boil on low approx 20 minutes, no stirring. No one can mess that up.
Also learning to cook together, even if it’s just basic foods, will help you two grow even closer.
3. Eat separately if you must
Maybe you two have very different eating schedules. One works from 9am to 5pm, but the other works from 2pm to 10pm. You can’t really eat together.
In those cases, eat when you need to and don’t wait until your partner comes home to eat. Your schedules are taxing enough, no point in being too tired by staying up.
Also taking into account how you should definitely NOT eat right before bed, but allow 3-4 hours of digestion, take that into account when you decide your meal times.
If you’re the partner who comes home earlier, leave some food out for your partner if they want to eat when they come home. Even if they ate at work, they’ll appreciate the effort and eat the food you left the next day.
Or, let’s say you don’t have very different work schedules, you have the exact same schedule (like Dragos and I). But, one of you needs to eat lunch at a certain hour and the other just isn’t that hungry.
Let your partner eat when they need to, even if it doesn’t overlap with your schedule. Maybe your partner only eats once a day, and you overlap at dinner. That can be alright too.
However keep an eye out for eating patterns that are bad for your partner’s health or waistline. Like eating big meals much too close to their bedtime, or eating only once per day and that’s just fast food because they don’t have time because of pressure from work.
Many of these are traps that are very easy to fall into, make sure your watch out for this and talk to your partner about possible solutions.
4. Refrain from commenting on their food
Even if it goes against your principles, your partner chose that food for a reason. They knew your standards and view on life, and still they chose that dish to eat.
Let’s break this down a bit. Maybe your partner respects that you’re vegetarian or vegan, but simply wants to eat meat. You can’t comment or nag them about it, even if it’s against your standards.
This is because a personal choice is just that – personal. No amount of nagging will ever convince anyone of something.
Also, think about how you’d feel if your partner nagged and criticized your food, and then you. Harsh words, ill tempers, petty arguments over the best tasting soup. Food is food, and each person chooses to eat what they wish.
If that means one eats bugs on a stick and the other eats nothing but leaves, who is to say one of them is wrong ? Best to keep to ourselves.
We got into this specific topic, about vegetarians/vegans and regular-eating people because we know it’s a lifestyle choice that can have very deep effects, beyond just the food. And also because this is most often the biggest difference partners quote.
Another example could be the junk food vs regular food couple. While we don’t condone junk food in general, we also don’t condone actively changing your partner just for the hell of it.
If your partner is gaining weight or developing a disease because of what they eat, then yes you should work together to change their diet.
Anything other than that, and it’s just lifestyle differences. You knew those when you started dating. And they deserve a proper talk between you two, if it’s become something that is hurting the relationship.
(If you like this article so far, you can pin it to your Pinterest board by clicking the image below. The article continues after this image.)
5. Have an honest, open talk
Try not to get too attacked, and actually stop to listen to what your partner has to say.
You S.O. eats this or that way because they like this or that. So do you. Leave each other space to discuss not how to change one another, but how you can make this work, despite your differences.
How can you keep your relationship going, and what are the steps you could take to make meal time less stressful ?
- What is something you can compromise on ?
- Do you need to eat at different times of day ?
- Can you find a place that you can order the kinds of foods you both like ?
- Can you devise together a cooking plan, so you both have something to eat ?
- What are some foods you can both agree on, and how can you customize them to your individual tastes ?
This can be a talk that benefits both of you. Maybe you’ll reach this awesome conclusion that you can compromise on some dishes, and maybe sync 2 of 3 meals. That’s some great progress !
This is also the talk in which you can find together what habits one or both of you have, and see what can be done about it.
Maybe one of you eats so much junk food that you’ve started to gain lots of weight, really fast. There’s steps you can do together to reduce the junk food, and it will benefit the overall relationship between the two of you (if your partner eats home-cooked, or healthier food).
One of the most important things to keep in mind, when you discuss sensitive topics like these, is that neither of you actively wants to give up their favorite meals. So don’t push in a particular direction, but try and see how you can combine your different eating patterns.
6. Change the bad habits together, and be supportive
If after the talk you’ve just had, one of the conclusions is that one or both of you need to change some dietary habits, work together towards it.
If just one needs to change, and the other partner’s just minding their own business and kind of ignoring the situation, it won’t be pretty.
Actively support your partner in what they’re trying to improve about themselves.
So you both become active in the same direction, and can support each other in whatever challenges come up.
Let’s say one of you has to eat less food than the other. Not a different type of food, but just a smaller quantity. Maybe for health reasons, maybe just for weight loss, whatever the case.
Both partners need to be in on it, supportive and helpful. Nagging is not helping, neither is passive-aggressive joking about the plate size and pointedly reminding the partner to drop that second helping.
”Honey, I think you could do without that second burger” doesn’t sound very friendly or kind, even if it was meant that way ! And even if you are completely right to say so, and said partner could, in fact, do without it.
Try framing it in a ‘both of us’ way, like ”How about we both skip dessert and go for a walk around the lake ?”. The benefits of that are that the other partner doesn’t feel singled out, and you’ve also given them an alternative.
Sure, it’s more effort and means that sometimes you yourself have to do some of the things your partner does. But if you’re aiming for long-term happiness in your couple, it’s something you’ll have to consider.
- Celebrate the small victories.
- Set goals, even if they’re small.
- Be kind, and remind your partner how far they’ve come.
- Don’t nag or criticize. No one responds well to it, even if they 100% deserve it.
We hope this article will help you both to manage the difference in your eating habits.
Being a couple is wonderful, but sometimes so very hard. Getting over the obstacles that come up is always worth it, and we wish you good luck !