This is a common problem, and one we’ve faced personally.
Before Dragos and I started eating healthier, balanced meals, we’d kind of take turns binging on this snack or that burger or some other fries with extra sauce.
So naturally, we had to act as each other’s accountability partner, and help each other get healthier. What you’ll see here is what we’ve seen worked in our case, and it might work for you as well.
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So, how do I stop my partner from eating too much junk food ?
There’s a lot to cover here, so we’ll condense it into bullet points and go into detail in the rest of the article. You can:
- Explain your point of view, they might not be aware. The very first step and the most important. Your partner might not be aware that what they’re eating is bad for them, or even that it would bother you. It’s your job then to help them see the picture.
- Negotiate with them and start adjusting their diet, bit by bit. Start small, because your partner might resist the change deep down, even if they agreed to it for you sake.
- Have patience. Seriously, this will be a long road, because you’re trying to undo a habit which probably has some years since it was last checked. It might take weeks or months, but you’ll get there.
- Celebrate the little things. Compare today to 3 months ago, and how far you’ve come. You might still have so much ahead but always keep in mind the progress you’ve helped your partner achieve.
These are all points we used on ourselves, and they might just work for your case too. But they only take care of the effect – the root of the problem is still there. There’s several reasons your partner might be into junk food so much, and it’s crucial to understand these reasons, and see which apply to your loved one. Once you figure them out, you’ll have an easier time weaning them off junk food.
Why does my partner eat so much junk food in the first place ?
Let’s go through a possible list. It could be:
Convenience – as in time and money. Junk food like fast food and sweet snacks are usually cheap, easy to find, and you can get a full serving pretty fast.
When your partner is rushing to and from work, or is on a 20 minute lunch break with no food brought from home, they’ll be tight on options.
But you can totally help them out, either by packing them lunch from home, or looking for healthier alternatives to their usual eating spots or delivery.
Tastiest thing ever. If you’re already the healthier, more nutrition-conscious partner it might be incredible to you how your partner might think 3 sauce chicken wrap with extra taters is amazing, but it might actually be the best tasting thing to them.
The good news is that taste can be trained, and you can get your partner used to other, more healthy foods as well. I know that this was our MAJOR problem and had some serious issues with sauces and dippings.
While your partner might not be in love with salmon and broccoli, they could be brought to like this kind of food through taste. Spices can help tremendously here, garlic and rosemary in particular.
Provide your partner with healthier, but still tasty alternatives to their favorite junk foods, and you’ll see them eating it less.
Unaware of the situation. Another reason is that they might consider fast food and snacks as actual, valid food. And in a way it is, in that it keeps them fed and sates their hunger. They might actually truly not be aware of the damage they are doing to themselves.
How many times haven’t we watched episodes of our favorite series in our pajamas with a whole pizza and a bit of chocolate around 11 pm ? Does this sound like your partner ?
It’s very easy to get there, and you need to help your partner understand the situation they’re in. And let’s all agree here that watching TV or a movie on your laptop is very relaxing and comforting, and pretty much begs you to eat something. Did no one reach at least for a cookie, ever ? Exactly.
They lack the self control. Your partner might be trying their hardest to stay away from sweets and snacks when you’re around, but if at work someone innocently offers a bit of chocolate and they take it, thinking to themselves that it’s not THAT big of a deal, then that might be a sign.
Often times quitting junk food is harder than it seems and it take the effort of both partners to actually quit. Let’s say your partner doesn’t eat pizza when you’re around. But what about when you’re not ? Like on their way from work, or when out with friends and they all walk into a pizzeria.
Your partner will have a very hard time keeping away from junk food if they don’t understand why it’s bad for them. We’re not talking about just facts here, we mean your partner actually seeing some evidence and accepting that there is a problem.
Or, maybe they’re easier to influence than you, in an effort to please someone. Maybe their cousin needs a lift and jumps into the car with some fresh burgers and fries on the way home, and offers to share them with your partner.
Is there anything else you might use to help your partner ?
Well, aside from what we’ve discussed right at the beginning, you need to take into account the possible reasons your partner might be eating so much.
For example if convenience is the biggest problem, help them out by cooking them some lunch to take to work if you have the time. Or if neither of you has the time at home, sit down together and look for healthier alternatives to what your partner usually ends up eating.
Or if they usually stop at a drive-thru to get a quick burger on the way home, suggest getting just something meat-based, with a side of salad, and no sauces.
This is because the sauces are very heavy and usually sweetened, so your partner steers clear of them, it will be a good start. Then the salad can have a simple dressing, with just olive oil and a bit of vinegar, and it will help digestion with all the fresh veggies it provides.
Maybe your partner is unaware that their favorite pizza is a calorie bomb and is hurting their blood pressure. Take the time to sit down and help your partner understand what they are eating and how it affects their health.
Use whatever info tool you think they might actually pay attention to, for example this TED talk by Jamie Oliver (professional chef) on the dangers of added sugar in processed food is both passionate and gets the point across.
Adjusting the food at home might be an idea as well. Maybe your partner doesn’t like healthier foods, and still opts for junk food because they might feel your potato salad with broccoli is kind of meh (maybe it’s not, bear with us here).
The point is, junk food is a tasty thing, and has a lot of spices. If you’re the partner who has more time and thus can cook, then spice away. Make the food very tasty – not necessarily with salt or extra butter – and your partner might eat a bit better.
Create a junk-free environment for your partner
If you’re really committed to your partner and want to see them quit junk food, then you’ll go to great lengths to help them out.
That means in your home, as mush as possible, sloooooowly replacing and adjusting everything with healthy alternatives, while still being reasonable.
Remember that your partner is still in the beginning of their journey, and will likely react negatively if you straight up throw away all the chocolate and give them nothing but bananas and oranges for sweets. But going from caramel milk chocolate to dark chocolate with orange rind ?
Then after a while replacing said chocolate with unflavored 85% dark chocolate ? Then adding some fruit to their chocolate, like a banana and 3-4 dark chocolate cubes ?
The same goes for chips and cheese puffs and whatever your partner might have lying around the house. Slowly and gently replace and adjust those snacks with better versions.
Another thing to keep in mind is that their environment is also you yourself !
So quality time together could be spent making a weekend dinner that you will both love, lower in calories and carbs than if you’d just order pizza. Even pasta night, while still heavy with carbs, can be made great with whole-wheat pasta and veggies in stead of heavy sauce and meat.
Our favorite is baby broccoli (or regular chopped up broccoli, or spinach) in garlic sauce (a bit of milk and garlic thickened with pasta water) over whole-wheat pasta. Add nutmeg, garlic and pepper to taste, serve with a glass of white wine and you’ll be doing just great.
If you’re both very busy during the week, another idea could be weekend cooking classes (whether paid or watching Youtube videos is up to you), so you can both have the skills to have home-made delicious food at least some days of the week.
Give your partner time to drop the junk food
Throughout all of this change, remember that you are both human, and need time to adjust to things. Your partner needs some time to adjust to the idea that their favorite foods are not good for them, and it will probably be a stressful period in their lives.
Imagine someone who quit smoking, and you’ll know the struggle. Your partner is having to make a big change and if you’re not careful about it, you might turn out to be the bad guy.
What does that mean ? It means you should definitely not nag your partner into eating healthier, otherwise some serious relationship problems might arise. Opt for more gentle ways.
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For example, try negotiation tactics. Go on a date, and agree to their favorite movie if they agree to not bring any snacks, sweets, or soda to the theater. It’s meant as a way of helping them unlearn a habit, just getting them to not do it in moments when they would normally eat junk food.
You could also try compromising. You might walk past a donut shop and your partner might want to go in. Gently explain why that’s not what’s good for them, and if they still won’t budge then offer to get some fro-yo. It’s still sweet, but it’s much better compared to a donut when you look at carbs and calories.
What if your partner relapses and starts eating junk food again ?
Throughout this process of helping your partner quit junk food, remember that they might have some relapses. While they’re super annoying and might send you into a bit of a fit, keep your calm.
Your partner is very aware of the mistake they’ve made when they relapse. Yelling and getting angry will not help. Sit down with them and talk it over. Hear them out and let them vent, without adding more fuel to the fire.
Often the main reason behind a relapse is built up stress and anxiety, maybe over how well they think they’ll handle life without junk food, or how well the process is going along, or what you might think of them if they can’t quit junk food, and so on.
You know your partner better than we do, so take some time and put yourself in their shoes. What could stress them out so bad that they might stop for a quick donut again ? Then make sure you take those into account and help your partner go through them.
Congratulate your partner for the small victories
There will be trials and errors, and you will help your partner through them. Remember to congratulate your partner on the little steps they make, especially in the beginning when it might seem like a huge deal to them.
Let them know how proud you are of how far they’ve come, and always put things into perspective for them. Where were they 3 months ago and what did they eat ? Compare that to today and you’ll both see great results.
We hope this article was useful to you, and will give your good ideas on how to help your partner eat less junk food. We know it can be a touchy subject, and wish you all the best.
While you’re here, feel free to look around our other articles, you might like some of them.