Making Healthy Changes When Your Husband Isn’t on Board

half eaten pizza

Image by nutmeg

There are a lot of things that my husband does that I know very little about. For example, buying and installing more ram for our computers. Or writing a marketing proposal and presenting a sales pitch to the CEO of a company. Or how to set up a set of drums, much less teach aspiring musicians how to play them.

There are a lot of things that I know about that my husband isn’t so well versed on. Like all of the benefits of soaking grains and the how-to of doing it. Or how to make a dinner that involves more than stir-fry or toast and cheese (but seriously, the man makes good stir-fry). Or how to use a canner and put up enough home-grown diced tomatoes to last the year.

This isn’t just because I am ignorant of electronics, marketing and music, and he is uninformed about nutrition, cooking and homemaking. While that’s true to a degree, it goes much deeper than that. We’re both intelligent people, capable of learning what we need to in order to fulfill the unique roles we’ve been given.

Why do I bring all of this up? I hear time and time again from women who want very much to make changes to their family’s food buying habits, their diet and their overall nutrition. The problem? Their husbands aren’t on board.

I think it’s important to point out one of the major reasons that husbands often don’t get on board, or at least not as quickly as we hope that they will. This is not their domain.

They are not homemakers. They are not cooks (most of them). They probably do not buy the groceries. They also do not spend the time that we may spend reading books, or blogs, or articles, teaching us why and how to improve our nutrition.

In our family, although my husband is on board, I am the one who pushes the healthy and natural lifestyle changes that we’ve been making. It’s not that my husband is opposed. But, 1) It’s not his passion and 2) He doesn’t have the time that I do to pour into it and really learn why it all matters. Over the years, I have learned to try to explain to him some of the things that I am learning, why I am making certain changes, why I’m preparing food in a different manner, why I don’t want to buy such-and-such anymore, etc. He still doesn’t “get it” to the same degree as me (because he’s not the one doing all the research), but he respects me and my opinions and he is generally amazing about allowing me to try out these things that I am learning as I seek to serve and care for my family.

For those who are struggling with a bit more resistance, or a husband who is even strongly opposed to changes that you would like to make, here are a few suggestions:

1) Don’t let this issue become a stumbling block in your marriage.

I think that nutrition, health, good stewardship and all the other issues that I write about are important (or else I wouldn’t have a blog devoted to them!). BUT, they are not more important than my husband or my marriage. If it comes down to it, surrender your desires to the Lord and trust Him to meet your needs as you put your marriage first!

2) Don’t undermine your husband’s authority as leader in your home.

Oh, we women struggle so much with wanting to grasp at that authority, don’t we? We often think that we know best and want to try to force it on our husbands. We need to remember that God, in His complete wisdom and sovereignty, has given us the exact husband that He wanted us to have and that He is the author of marriage and the designer of the concept of submission.

If your husband is truly opposed to something or you can tell it really displeases him, don’t do it! It just isn’t worth it to replace your conventional milk with raw milk if it requires you to undermine your man. You may have to get creative with how you add more veggies into your meals if he grew up on canned corn and iceberg lettuce. You might even need to just sit on your ideals and knowledge for a while, praying that your husband will come around, but trusting that God is ultimately in control of the situation and of your family’s health!

3) Give him good information in bite-sized pieces.

Most husbands work long days (or nights) before coming home to their precious families. Though they might be willing to read a book on nutrition to understand what you’ve been learning, they just might not have the time and the energy after they come home, eat a meal, help put the kids to bed and then take some downtime or time alone with you.

Over the last few years, I’ve learned that this is the best way to teach my husband about something: Find a brief article (a couple pages), or one really good chapter of a book, or a video (maybe 20 min. or less) every so often and offer it to him. Tell them that it explains some things that you think are really important and ask them to read/watch it and if you can, discuss it together after. I have found almost every time that my hubby is absolutely willing to do this. He walks away more informed about what I am learning and doing, and usually more convicted on whatever the issue was (raw milk, avoiding toxins, buying meat from clean sources, etc.).

4) Make it your priority to please him.

Next to your relationship with the Lord, your relationship with your husband ought to be the most important in your life. We need to show this in practical ways, and the food we serve is definitely one of them!

In the last couple of years, I have made a point of asking my husband about different meals or baking that I make so that I can find out how much he really likes it. If it’s a thumbs up, it goes on my regular list of things to make. If it’s so-so, we might have it very occasionally. If it’s thumbs down (even if I love it or it’s really good for us), I don’t make it again unless he’s out and won’t be eating it. I have also learned that we are all so much happier when I do my best to take my nutritional principles and apply them to styles of food that he loves. I try to cook in a way that will make my hubby arrive home pleased and eager to eat what I’ve prepared. I love it when he loves what I’ve cooked!

5) Start slow and implement change little by little.

I didn’t grow up eating the way I do now. It took many years and much determination to learn to eat healthfully as I do now, and to overcome a strong dislike of many wholesome foods (beans, brown bread, most veggies, some fruits).

Your husband may be the same. If so, it’s going to take patience and diligence to help him change his tastebuds and learn to like what’s better for him. Perhaps you could ask him if you could introduce a new meal or dish once a week? Or you could take some of his favorites and see if there are small things you can do to make them just a little bit better without removing all the pleasure. Or see if there are changes that he will willingly make, and a few compromise areas that you can just leave as they are for now (because some change is better than none!).

How do you find the balance between making healthy changes, and continuing to please and serve your husband?

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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  1. So this is exactly at right now with all my efforts and passion to eat healthy and feed my family wholesome food. As you may well know its a struggle to eat healthy when everyone is on board but even more so when your spouse looks at healthy food like the latest means to torture him. For the record, I’m really not all that extreme; really. My husband grew up eating white bread, canned everything, will not read or watch a health video to save his life. I had a similar upbringing but now since I know better I want to do better.

    Raw milk he’s been okay with, grass fed beef is okay. He gets annoyed if we eat chicken more than twice a week. Will not eat Chinese stir-fry, or any seafood at all. So I’m left to alternate between ground beef, roast and chicken. Once a month I’ll fit steaks into the budget because that is what he loves.

    Today I bought healthier tortilla chips and he was really unhappy about it. Said it ruined a perfectly good taco salad. Why was I ruining all our “good meals”? Then he asked if I’d been shopping cause there wasn’t any cereal. I avoid buying any cause its expensive and my kids want it all the time. This really ticks him off. I want to influence my kids to eat healthier than I did growing up but it’s not worth it if my husband feels I’m undermining his authority. I don’t know why this is such a hot button issue with him or why he can’t trust that I love him and want what is best for our family. I pray that I can make healthy choices that will still be pleasing to his unhealthy palate. I’m going to pray and see if we can work out some sort of menu that will not involve me cooking 2 meals a night to please everyone.

    A friend suggested I let him choose 2 meals a week; he’d love for me to bring back frozen lasagna and sloppy joes for example. The other 3 meals can be healthier. I pray for protection for my heart. It’s very hurtful to put so much effort into those meals only to see the dissatisfaction on my husbands face when I serve them.

    I know you understand my desire to eat clean. I pray specifically for me to respect and honor my husband until God can soften his heart.

    This article really helped me to respond not in anger as I truly wanted to and instead changed my perspective. I emailed this to a few trusted friends with my prayer request. Just wanted to leave something here to let you know how your post has helped me tonight get back on track. Thank you.

  2. Definitely a great post, and something I’ve been struggling with over the last few months. I’ve been through so many different diet changes over the years, working out how to have the healthiest, most natural diet, I think my husband is over it! Now that I’ve found out about soaking, fermenting, and organic foods, I’m hoping that sticking with the same ideals for more than a few months will convince him :) But having grown up with white, white and white (with some meat and veg on the side) means his tastebuds are shot! So we have been arguing about the food I’m buying and preparing, other than the meat and veg ;)
    Thanks again though, I’m now going to go and make a batch of his favourite cookies, subbing in half white/whole spelt flour, rapadura for the sugar, and half the chocolate chips :)
    I was thinking if I start making either kefir soda pop (from water kefir) or kombucha and flavour them for a nice drink, I’ll worry less about the other rubbish he eats.

  3. Very good reminder.

  4. Stephanie,
    Thank you so much for this article! It truly was a God send. Just last night I got myself into a tizzy which has seeped feelings of resentment towards my husband because he basically told me “I hate some of this healthy crap you make us eat”. Thank you so much for showing me how I need to approach it. I didn’t realize he felt that way (because I hadn’t asked, just expected him do as I say) and when he let me know how he felt I was shocked. I will be changing the way I approach this issue. Thank you soo much!

  5. I’m a conservative Christian myself but I feel that I’d be sinning against my body if my husband (I’m not married) were to tell me that we have to use low-fat dairy, margarine and was indifferent to hydrogenated oils and these junk processed foods and wouldn’t listen to me (or at least consider my POV) if I knew that such foods would kill my kids down the road. I know we’re not supposed to undermine our husband’s authority but what if you KNOW that your husband’s POV on a food would be fatal down the road? are you just going to accept it anyway?

    • @S., I think there’s a real delicate balance here. I don’t think that our husbands should be dictating what we ourselves eat. They can’t force anything down our throats. :) We may prepare those foods for them, if that’s what they request, while preparing something different for ourselves and our children. I think that we can be gently encouraging them, while still happily preparing foods that they enjoy, and praying for a change of heart. If a husband begins to force someone to eat something that they don’t want to eat, then we have a bigger issue than submission and respect, bordering on abuse. I think that is the very rare exception, however.

      There are some things, though, where we just need to let go of our desire to control, and trust that it’s in God’s hands. We can’t control what our husbands do any more than we want them to control us. We do need to respond in respectful submission to their wishes (and it is still 100% ok to let our own wishes and opinions be known, too).

      But, I have seen some women make health and foods such a big issue that they ultimately caused a breakdown in their marriage. Their husbands began to feel such disrespect and resentment that the relationship was torn down. That is too high a price to pay for better health, quite frankly.

      Fortunately, S., you are not married yet and so you have the wonderful option of making your views on healthful foods and eating clear at the beginning of a relationship, and so this may never be an issue for you at all! :)

  6. I adore the way you capture the essence of the message, truly great writting manner, I enojoyed it!

  7. Good heavens lady, what century do you live in? “Make it your priority to please him”? You sound like a Victorian governess. Live a little – I’m sure The Lord would want you to. You poor thing.