This is part 2 of the “It’s too Hard Series.” We are going to look at what to do when a person such as our beloved “Phil” is totally on board for living a paleo lifestyle and the significant other is either supportive but thinks it’s too hard, thinks your nuts, or simply doesn’t want to. Chrissy and I addressed this situation in our last podcast regarding another family, but I want to go over this real life scenario in further detail as I feel this is a HUGE elephant in the room for many families.
Let’s look at a comment I received regarding my original It’s Too Hard post from “Another Phil:”
“Well said Sarah!
So, what if Phil has made the transition, and really wants his family to as well. But, he’s not the one doing the grocery shopping, or cooking the meals. What if Phil’s wife does all that, and though not against eating paleo, is stuck in that comfort zone of the old ways. She still buys the crap food because that’s what she’s always bought. She still serves cereal for breakfast, because it’s quicker/faster/easier than cooking ? If Phil were there, he’d likely do the cooking and the shopping, but he’s up and out of the house to work out then off to work before anyone else is even awake. Phil’s wife would gladly make the transition to paleo if Phil were there, because it would be “easier” than what she currently does; i.e. he’d be doing the cooking. In short, how does the person who’s made the transition to Paleo, get his or her family to follow them when they are not there to lead the way ? I know that’s a tough one to answer. A person has to want to do something and you can’t make a person do something they don’t want to. But are there ways to make it easier for them to change than to stick within the comfort zone ? Thanks for yet another great post. Can’t wait to try out those egg muffins ”
Here was my reply to Another Phil and this is my advice to anyone desiring to get his or her spouse on the paleo bandwagon – or at least this is an excellent place to start:
“Hey Another Phil! I would suggest that Phil start by having a heart to heart conversation with his wife. Give her The Paleo Solution, show her Robb Wolfs blog, show her my blog, and without arguing, pleading, or begging, let her know how much you love and appreciate her and how much she does – acknowledge how hard she works and what an amazing job she does taking care of the family, and then let her know that he loves her so much that his greatest wish is that she is as healthy as possible and that he thinks he has found a way for the entire family to not only live better but live longer!! I would tell Phil to communicate to his wife that he wants to start this amazing journey as a family and that he wants them to be a team, partners in crime with this new wonderful way of living. I would tell Phil to give her a big hug and kiss and tell her that without her he would be nothing and that together they can accomplish anything. Top it off with some flowers after work and a little note promising that even when Phil can’t help with breakfast, he’ll help her meal plan so she knows exactly what to make when he’s not there and that together they can come up with a strategy to make it happen…”
To add to my original response, nagging, pleading, crying, begging, and arguing will get you nowhere. If you try the advice I give in the above paragraph and your significant other is not willing to give this paleo thing a go, I advice you to simply keep making your own choices and pay zero attention to the fact that you do not have a significant other who is interested. Continue to be your loving, wonderful self, continue to become healthier, stronger, and more energized, and the less you nag the MORE your significant other will start to notice. Sometimes when YOU stop paying attention to what your spouse is or isn’t doing, he or she will start to become more involved in your journey because the fear of confrontation or the uncomfortable moments of nagging are gone and he or she will begin to notice your transformation rather than your attitude!
Remember that ultimately you can only change your own behavior and your own lifestyle and it’s truly up to your significant other if he or she is ready. Trying to shove them on the wagon will only result in a stronger urge for your partner to run away. Make your food for the whole family and if someone wants something different, gently suggest that it’s up to him or her to provide what he or she feels is missing and instead of arguing about your differences in opinion, go on with life and you’ll be amazed at what might eventually happen.
Now, let’s take a look at “Another Phil’s” timely response and how it looks as if his astounding results after eating paleo for a while is all it took to get his spouse more interested in what he’s been up to. In my experience, this is typically how it works out. One person starts to look, feel and perform better, followed by the other person being amazed and wants to join the ride, despite how “hard” it might appear to be.
“Sarah, What a wonderful, and heartfelt response. It’s ironic, and serendipitous that I just read it now: I started Zoning last July but had gone mostly Paleo w/ Zone portions by November. I started the 30-day Paleo challenge on January 2nd. On January 19th, 18 days in, I had my blood work done for my upcoming annual physical which was today. Suffice it to say, my doctor was absolutely flabbergasted at the change. I went from 172 and borderline high cholesterol (he was toying with the idea of putting me on statins if it got worse this time last year) to 148. Every single biomarker they tested was below the “standard ideal range”. In short, my health is “better than perfect” in his words. He asked me what I was doing, and I spelled it out to him. As I spoke, he started asking me for web references and actually wrote the URLs down on tongue-depressors! I gave him Robb’s site, Crossfit.com, Mark Sisson’s site. I mentioned your blog and recipes, and several others. I left with him asking for my e-mail address in case he had more questions. He ended with, “Geez, I should coming to see you instead of you coming to see me. This is fantastic stuff! It’s so brilliant, yet so simple!” Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this doctor’s appointment all month knowing what the results would be. I’ve been fairly giddy about it all day since Fast forward a couple of hours, and I related all this to my wife, who absolutely, positively despises doctors. After telling her all this, and hearing how happy I was, she said, “I wish I could have doctor’s visits like that!” That’s my in. She can have doctor’s visits like that, and I told her so. And I told her exactly how we, as a team, can approach it. That between now and her annual physical, we have more than enough time to get all her issues in line and fixed, and that she has it easy; she’s got me, who has already “been there, done that” and knows how to approach it all. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going Thanks so much for your support, your advice, your website, and your amazing recipes which got me here to begin with “
Thanks so much to “Another Phil” for sharing with us! I hope this helps others struggling with a partner who is not quite ready to dive into this whole “paleo thing!” Remember, approach your loved one with the desire to be a team and lead by example rather than by being confrontational, controlling, and angry. Post to comments with your own experiences and input!
Now, here’s a recipe! I adore Spanish Tortillas. Spanish Tortillas are typically an egg casserole made with eggs, onions, and potatoes with really no “tortilla” at all. I decided to give a paleo version a try and I’m pretty much in love all over again but with a healthier spin on the original! This would be great for a weekend brunch… You’ll notice in my pictures that the kids had about every stuffed animal they own helping us with the process!
Everyday Paleo Spanish Tortilla
2 medium yams, peeled and sliced into thin rounds with a mandoline slicer
2 cups torn arugula leaves
1 purple onion, sliced thin
3 tablespoons coconut oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
In a saute pan (this is a pan that is about 2-3 inches deep unlike the flatter skillet), heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil. Make sure your oil is hot enough that is sizzles when you lay in a slice of yam. Cook the yam slices in a single layer in batches in the hot oil, flipping after frying for about a minute on each side or when they start to brown. Set the cooked yams aside, add the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil into the pan and saute the onions just until they start to turn brown. While the onions are cooking, beat the eggs together with the spices in a medium sized bowl. After the onions begin to brown, spread them evenly on the bottom of the pan and layer the yams on top of the onions, followed by a layer of the arugula. Poor the egg mixture evenly over the layers of veggies and cook over medium or medium low until the edges start to look done (about 4-5 minutes). Move the entire pan underneath your broiler for another 5-6 minutes until the “tortilla” is firm on top. Remove and slice like a pizza and eat immediately. Serves 4-5.