Challenge #1: My Skeptic Husband

November 7, 2011 in Categories: , by

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I love my husband.  We have been married for over 8 years and together for 16 years.  I was very overweight for most of that time.  I think he takes almost as much joy in my newfound health as I do.  But that doesn’t mean he wants to eat like me.  My husband is a skinny fat man.  That means that he is naturally lean, but not particularly muscular.  His blood lipids and blood pressure are good.  He doesn’t exercise, but he’s in good enough shape to enjoy a hike with the girls where they ride on our shoulders most of the way.  So there is no real incentive for him to change anything.  And he loves grains.

I can tell that my husband is intrigued by how well I’m sleeping, how energetic I am all day, how much more balanced my moods are, and how health issues like IBS, GERD and migraines have disappeared. But every time I get encouraged by his interest and start to steer him toward a commitment to paleolithic nutrition, he ruffles his feathers and gets this indignant teenager attitude.  He’ll say things like “I agreed to cut back on my grains but not cut them out!”.  He’s stubborn and, while he has a great work ethic at his job, he’s lazy when it comes to making himself breakfast and packing his lunch.

Sure, I could wipe out the pantry of all the bad neolithic foods; but frankly, I just can’t afford to throw food out.  Nor do I particularly want to test the strength of our marriage by creating a food ultimatum (we are both very stubborn so this could get bad quickly).  So here is my strategy:  I am going to have to work hard to find paleolithic foods that meet his taste, comfort food and convenience requirements.  This will be a little difficult given that my husband dislikes a lot of my daytime staples, like nuts, coconut and canned fish.  But once we have a good repertoire of healthy choices that he likes, we can phase out the bad stuff. At least he is enjoying the paleo suppers that I am making and many of the paleo treats I’ve experimented with.

My goal with my husband is to not only transition him to a 100% paleolithic diet, but to get him to really buy in.  I hope that he will also see big improvements to his health, in particular to his sleep quality, fatigue during the day, stress and anxiety (not to mention reducing his risk for cancer and heart disease for which there is a strong family history).  I am also encouraging him to find an active hobby (like join a soccer team) and trying to get the whole family outside for active play, whether it’s a walk to the playground, a weekend hike, or just a romp in the backyard.  So, wish me luck!


My husband wants to go “low carb” because it has helped him to loose weight in the past. I am going to be looking here for good ideas that are healthy for him.
-Jennifer K.

That sounds just like my husband. He is slim but not overly healthy, despite being convinced he is. But I like your idea of gradually introducing things in. I’m going to spend tomorrow reading your blog, thankyou.
Faye x

Most people think “diets” are for weight loss, so if they are naturally thin, they don’t have as much motivation to change how they eat (even if they are prediabetic or have high triglycerides!). I think it was in the movie Fat Head where I heard a physician rant about “skinny fat people” being the hardest to get to make positive diet and lifestyle choices. My husband is noticing that he’s feeling way better though, so it’s getting easier and easier (plus I’m the sole cook in the house so he has to eat what I make!). 🙂

From one PaleoMommee to another, You’re awesome Sarah! I am a Certified Holistic Health Counselor and I love Paleo! I have a hubby that plays the indignant teenager game too. It’s so hard being 100% committed to health and have such a tough and reluctant customer under the same roof! Cheers to you!

Hi,My husband has a half hour for lunch. One of the biggest challenges are lunch bag lunches. There are few microwaves and he is not into heating his lunch. I would ask everyone who is Paleo to gather and record good man-size Paleo lunches. It will probably require a revamp of the lunch container. I found a kit one at Planetbox. I’m not sure of the name site and one on amazon.All ideas will be gratefully accepted.

You could try some of the grass-fed deli meats (bologna, kielbasa, summer sausage) or other cold meats like chicken breast or smoked salmon? Some salad with avocado in it or veggie sticks with some paleo dip? Maybe some sweet potato chips or trail mix? And a piece of fruit on the side?

Anything cooked that’s edible cooler or lukewarm, such as the green eggs recipe here… Stewed or braised meat-and-vegetable dishes… Anything that’s pure and tasty should translate well to being eaten unheated. Fresh preparation -to-packing without the need for prior refrigeration van also make dishes much more palatable.

I have a hubby in the same position – half-hr. lunch – except he wants something HOT to eat, so he ends up at a drive-through, or completely skipping his meal. (Bad, BAD!) When we have time, he or I will make a batch of healthy soup, freeze it in single servings, then heat it up and put in a thermos for him to take with him. That way he can eat something hot and healthy on the go!

I’m confused. I’m new to this paleo diet..

In a vegan world all talk about how meat & eggs cause inflammation? for those with arthritis and thyroid problems.

Please explain

Excellent question! This is probably a good topic for an entire post (or series of posts)! Really it comes down to meat quality. Conventional meat is high in proinflammatory omega-6 fatty acid, lower in vitamins and minerals which support immune function, and the pesticides, herbicides and other toxins in the non organic feed they are given is stored in their body fat. All of the studies done linking meat to cancer have been performed with this kind of meat. Ideally, when following a paleo diet, you would be eating organic, 100% grass-fed and pastured meat, pastured egg, wild-caught fish. There are certainly studies showing that wild-caught fish consumption decreases cancer, inflammation, cardiovascular disease. There is a need for similar studies with grass-fed meat; but what we do know is that the much higher amount of anti-inflammatory omega-3 and antioxidant vitamins are known to provide health benefits. Other aspects of a paleo diet help balance omega-3 to omega-6 intake, which helps people who can’t afford to have all of their protein come from these superior sources. Also, our bodies do need substantial amounts of complete protein and saturated fats (this information is just starting to hit the mainstream, here’s a good reference to run optimally.

I have been paleo for 2 1/2 months, have lost 17 lbs (yeah), feel great, more energy etc but am concerned because I have still been eating commercial meats.
I went to our local farmers market this morning and an organic 5 lb whole chicken was $31 ! Wow is all I can say to that. My budget just can’t support that. I understand about the grass fed beef having more CLA etc and totally agree with the importance of pastured, organic, grass fed meats but how do people afford to feed their family??!!

You do the best you can. If you can’t afford all grass-fed (not many people can!) then prioritize. Get your fattier cuts of meat or lard and tallow grass-fed, eat some fish, and get the rest of your meat conventional. Same goes for produce. Try and buy dirty dozen produce organic, and go with conventional for everything else.

I can relate to the skeptics! I went from a low carb type diet (Somersize) and was feeling good (had done this in the past) but then found out I have Hashimoto’s Disease! Such a relief to get an answer to 18 years of symptoms but then my naturopath suggested the Blood Type Diet. I sorta did that for awhile (it was similar to what I was already doing) but in my research about Hashimoto’s Paleo came up again and again. So I switched again. I then had my teenagers and husband thinking I was just a diet whore and couldn’t make up my mind! On top of that one of our teens is a vegetarian so every time I pull out meat I hear “ewww, gross.” I used to be a veggie as well so my husband was happy when that ended. Now that I am trying to follow the autoimmune protocol…and have gone ‘no poo” he really is just shaking his head and trying to figure out why! He does love the food I cook…last night I had a beautiful salad with grass fed ground beef on top and he had a grilled cheese…boy did his eyes perk up when he saw my plate! I have always tried to encourage real food but for teens that can walk to the nearest convenience store and buy whatever they want it is unfortunately too late to convert them completely. I am working on my mom though…she has recently had some serious stomach bleeding that required her to get 6 units of blood! It has been very hard for her to understand giving up grains…in fact even after explaining it several times she bought me a commercially made lemon bundt cake for my birthday and said “its lemon, you can have that right?” I sent her some guidelines and just really hoping she at least gives up all the fake sweeteners she eats and starts getting more fruits and veggies and healthy fats! Years of low fat/calorie/sugar free dieting have taken their toll on her mentally and physically…makes me so mad that doctors have pushed this type of unhealthy regime on people!

In theory, my husband loves my interest in cooking better foods at home. In reality though, planning out meals ahead of time (even if I do all the prep and cooking) does not work out at all. He cant decide what he wants to eat, and 90% of the time if I have already have a plan, he doesnt want it when it comes time to cook. If I cook healthier meals, then I end up cooking two totally different meals which I dont have time or the energy to do (and we dont have kids, so it is just the two of us butting heads all the time over what to eat). I would love to know how you have started transitioning your husband to healthier foods.

Often, I make the executive decision of what we’ll eat based on the ingredients in the house. If there are a couple of options that I’m considering, I always ask him if he has a preference. But, he has never told me he didn’t want to eat something as I was going to start cooking it (and I think I’d tell him to fend for himself if he did). That being said, my husband is fairly indifferent toward food (in the sense that he likes all of it but doesn’t really love any of it). And, when my husband tells me he doesn’t like something (like liver and onions), I make a point of only cooking those meals when he’s out of town or working late and can pack something else for supper. I don’t know if this is helpful or if it just reflects a different dynamic. But, I think a conversation about respecting the chef but also respecting the preferences of everyone eating and where to find balance is probably a good idea.

There are also paleo husbands with VERY sceptic wives! It makes it even harder when you are not the cook to eat (auto- immune) paleo.
While paleo has helped me a lot with my asthma, stress around the table is not good for family life and my health.
I have just discovered your site after reading your guest post at Robb wolfs site. There is a lot reading/learning for me to do here!
I pre ordered your book, I can’t wait….
Sincères salutations,

That’s my hubby for sure! Even I am not 100% yet but working on it. He loves the dinners and breakfasts I make but he’s a driver and there’s so much temptation out there with all this sugary eye candy. But his blood sugar is down to 118 before eating and is steady to 130 after when it used to be 160-180 before eating and up to 220 after. He knows it makes a difference.

As an in-general request, could you address any thoughts you have or might glean through research regarding BPA and other prevalent estrogenic compounds in plastics, potentially including many, many “BPA-free” substances because of crucialness to the strength and bendable-ness of plastics, (which can coat canned goods, lids of canning jars, and many other things) leaching/mixing with food substances, especially potentially fats and liquids? What of the safety of entirely glass storage?

Also, regarding clean air and CO (carbon monoxide) or other chemicals released through gas ovens and gas stoves, particularly those with bad fan systems – ideas? Severity of dangers/toxins?

It would be useful and insightful to have a scientist’s honest analysis of this.


It’s almost 2 years since you wrote this post. Is your husband a paleo convert? Mine eats paleo meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner), but has SAD snacks during the workweek. I’m thankful that he doesn’t bring them home. He knows my diet is directly related to my pain levels, and he doesn’t want to tempt me to eat something that literally hurts me. So, I appreciate his support in keeping our house not just paleo, but paleo AIP. I’ve had to let go of my wish to control his snack binges. “He’s a grown man who gets to make his own choices” is a mantra I repeat often to myself! As I watch his belly grow, it’s hard!!!

My husband is definitely a convert. When out of the house (like at a conference or a work-related dinner), his priority is to remain gluten free (the last time he had gluten, he felt terrible for a few hours), but will relax on other stuff (he doesn’t like legumes, so he’s never tempted… and he tolerates dairy and non-gluten grains very well). So, that only too about two years…;)

Any tips on converting a recalcitrant husband? Any strategy that worked well ? My hubby is overweight, with all the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. We eat mostly paleo at home, but he routinely brings home temptations. He listens to me, a little, but is impatient with long explanations. Explanations have to be bullet-form and brief. He sort of buys it, but not 100% He feels that the occasional treat doesn’t hurt. I feel that, like for cigarettes, the occasional transgression prevents you from overcoming addiction.

I’m concerned about him. He’s overweight and has high blood pressure. I think that what is preventing him from loosing weight are his breakfast and lunches, which he takes outside the house every day. I think that would be the first hurdle to overcome, and like your husband (was?) making a lunch doesn’t seem to appeal

I think there is an aspect to making diet changes that is very similar to giving up smoking. I agree that it’s a similar addiction, but also motivation to give it up and break the habits has to come from within. With my husband, it took a while but he’s completely on board with paleo diet (he does well with dairy, and occasional cheats like rice or beans so he has that, which doesn’t bother me at all). But, he’s having a hard time with the lifestyle aspect (mainly exercise). All I can do is support healthy decisions he makes and be a good example. I know he’ll work on that when he’s ready.

the resistance I get makes me want to run away from home. Everything will be going really well and then my dh brings home a loaf of bread because it was “on sale” or will make a rice stir fry and the kids get addicted to carbs all over again. Seriously I want to run away from home. On the other hand, I look great and keep dropping dress sizes.

I have been gluten-free since 2001, (a month after I got married, b/c my husband said ‘whenever you eat bread you get really sick’ and my grandmother is celiac, and then 5 years of sickness transformed into a lifetime of healing!) and married a wonderful, observant and food-apathetic man. Fast-forward to 2014, and he’s been paleo by choice for 3 months now and has no intentions of going back! From yeast overgrowth, to joint pain, to abdominal fat loss (after 23 he noticed he had a harder time losing weight but took til 30 to decide to DO something about it!) he’s had a phenomenal journey.

But it was years of me healing, from extra weight, inflammation, infertility/amenorrhea, skin infections, mood swings/emotional imbalances that really moved him to see the truth in what he came to adopt for himself. I couldn’t change him, but change he did.

And we both couldn’t be happier. Health is a journey. And if my man, who used to make special trips to Wal-Mart to buy his ‘special’ cheap $19 packages of mac-n-cheese can be so into his paleo that when I make non-paleo sushi rolls (pregnancy makes for strange cravings) he shakes his head and says ‘it’s not on my diet!’, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

You know the saying: We aren’t on the same page? Well, my husband and I aren’t even reading the same BOOK right now and it is a struggle. I try hard to keep healthy food options in the house and he goes shopping and…….le sigh………… you, I think my best strategy is to entice him with healthy alternatives. (at this point, he thinks cheese slices are a healthy snack for our kids!!!! YIKES! I have a way to go, so, wish me luck!

My partner is the guy who SAYS he wants to make the change but then drinks a can of Coke for breakfast. With my 18yo. Gah! He does believe that making the necessary changes will mean better health for his family, himself included (another skinny fat man), and he loves that we eat more meat now…but pass up the Coke when I’m not around? No sir. It doesn’t count if his partner doesn’t see it, right? What upsets me the most is that our kids clearly have diet-related issues. My 18yo is obese and now experiencing back problems. He does not need a “Coke buddy.” His 7yo had several food allergies diagnosed when he was younger and still experiences stomach pain, as well as the worse flatulence I’ve ever encountered. His mother claims that he outgrew the allergies but I think the evidence proves otherwise. That leaves our 3yo, Bastian. He has asthma and eczema and only this year fought his way onto the WHO charts for height and weight. I attribute his gains in size and the absence of asthma attacks to our decision to go gluten free last Spring. It has reduced his eczema flair-ups, as well, but not eradicated them. I’m thinking Nightshades might be a problem or, *gulp*, dairy. Anyway, I’m hoping my partner chooses to take Paleo seriously – for his sake, and the sake of his family.

So. Frustrated.

I’m researching how to transistion my family to paleo! My husband is not thrilled but willing to try since he’s the “skinny fat man” with health issues . He has blood and protien in his urine and high uric acid levels in his blood. Things need to change .

Wow, even though this is an older post, it’s always relevant! I needed to read this today! I know we can’t expect people (our husbands/spouses) to just absorb the information and “get it” overnight, but well, I wish we could, and… why can’t we? Thanks for posting a tough subject matter, and not glossing it over, so instead of my feeling like everyone ELSE’s husband does… I realize and understand him better and that it is a PROCESS. Thank you.

as with some of your recent commenters I am concerned about the resistance of a member of my family (so wish me luck). Meanwhile – did you win your husband over?

I’ve been married 25 years and my husband bucked all the nutrition suggestions I offered, instead sticking with his 10 cups of coffee a day and living on Doritos and Breyers ice cream plan. He, too, was the always thin, always ‘looked’ healthy specimen who bragged about his metabolism.

I made the case that not caring for his health was selfish because down the road his bad health would be a burden on our one-income, self-employed family.

This week we got his results back showing that he has outrageously high thyroid antibodies, (so, Hashimoto’s), he’s pre-diabetic and has Lyme’s. *NOW* he wishes he had listened to me. *NOW* he’s all on board with AIP and listening to me. If I had known then what I know now, I would have worked harder at presenting my case to him, both scientifically (people can’t live this way and support health long-term) and morally (someone with our level of responsibility has to be a good steward of the health we’ve been gifted).

Don’t give up! Our loved ones need us to keep sticking with the data and proving it true by our lifestyle and by the benefits we are experiencing from implementing it.

Thanks, Sarah for doing the hard work of helping us understand the studies that make my brain hurt. 🙂

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