Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

How to Boil a Husband {Eat Well, Spend Less}

January 29th, 2013 · 76 Comments · Big Changes, My Story

How to help a husband get used to real food

This is good advice, I promise.

And no, I’m not upset with my husband and taking it out on men everywhere.

It was my husband’s idea, in fact.  (photo source)

As part of the Eat Well, Spend Less series, we’re talking about getting back to basics this month – the basics of eating well – eating real food – and not spending an arm and a leg doing it.

Since KS is already running the Back to Basics Baby Steps Mini-Challenge covering many of our basic, foundational habits, all of which save money while increasing your family’s nutrition or health, I thought I’d touch upon another “basic” necessity in the world of eating: relationships.

Most specifically, the relationship between husband and wife. The decisions about the way a family eats have to happen within that relationship in some way, and if real food strikes marital discord, bringing back the harmony is fundamental to all your work in the kitchen.

I don’t think I’m alone in being the woman who is the driving force of health and nutrition in the family, and I’m pretty sure my husband is not alone in his resistance.

It’s common that as the husband watches his favorite boxed foods dwindle and not get replaced, he becomes concerned. He may complain, question, sulk, or balk the system entirely and buy his own food.

Many husbands also watch the bottom line closely, a good habit, and when they see the food budget expanding, they want to know how to cut the fat. When they hear that the fat now costs $4/pound and you’re buying more of it than ever, along with added expense for raw milk, pastured eggs, and grassfed beef, many men may put their foot down.

It’s important to get the basics down in the kitchen and at the grocery store, so you know what to buy and how to prepare it, but equally important is knowing how to explain what you’re doing to your partner in life.

Transitions: A Husband Comes Around

family

By way of example, I present to you my husband, four and five years ago, when our journey began:

  • computer programmer (Science/Math, as left-brained as they come)
  • man of faith
  • Crohn’s Disease patient, about 5 years after surgery to remove part of his intestine, no symptoms since
  • lasagna lover extraordinaire (never any question what he’d order at Olive Garden)
  • regular soda pop drinker
  • avid cereal eater (two bowls for breakfast, skim milk, known to grab another bowl for a snack)
  • roller hockey player (once a week)
  • intermittent exerciser (see above, plus if his friends were around to lift weights, maybe once a month; hates running)
  • doting father adjusting to parenting two children

And his thoughts on food and nutrition? Non-existent, other than “Mmmm, this banana bread is good,” or “I don’t like fish.”

Fast forward to the present, and here he is today:

husband holding all 3 kids

  • computer programmer (Science/Math, as left-brained as they come)
  • man of faith
  • Crohn’s Disease patient, about 5 10 years after surgery to remove part of his intestine, no symptoms since committed to avoiding medication as much as possible for infrequent symptoms
  • gluten sensitive (eats a 95% gluten-free diet and knows why); goes all the way grain-free from time to time
  • lasagna lover extraordinaire (never any question what he’d order at Olive Garden) but misses his favorites. Olive Garden? Probably chicken, salad, no breadstick
  • regular soda pop drinker hasn’t touched a soda in nearly a year
  • avid cereal eater (two bowls for breakfast, skim milk, known to grab another bowl for a snack) likely to make eggs for himself for breakfast if on his own; avid soaked oatmeal eater with whole raw milk, raisins and stevia
  • roller hockey player (once a week)
  • intermittent exerciser (see above, plus if his friends were around to lift weights, maybe once a month) works out 3-5x/week, P90X, Insanity, ran a half marathon last fall
  • doting father adjusting to parenting two three children
  • 20 pounds lighter

Thoughts on food and nutrition? He makes me proud when he spouts off some fact about gluten sensitivity and why so-and-so really needs to cut grains to see what happens, shows disgust with people eating junk,  or believes that fat doesn’t make you fat. There are times I do a doubletake and say, “You know that? I didn’t think you were listening…”

He also eats fish, when I serve a little fish with his spice.

A year ago he went on a business trip during a grain-free time and hardly ate out at all – he cooked bacon and eggs in his room, cut fruit salad and bought yogurt, and he managed to stay grain-free the entire week. The man he was five years ago would not recognize that man (and would probably think he was off his rocker).

When I asked my husband what the strategy was for pulling him off the rocker with me, he said, “It was gradual. I think that was the trick – it’s like that story about the frog.”

Do you know the one?

How to Boil a Frog

(photo source)

If you put a frog in a pot of water that’s just the right temperature, he’ll likely sit happily for you.

If you turn on a burner under that pot and begin to heat the water slowly, the frog will remain in the pot.

The frog is fully capable of jumping out of the pot and making a slimy mess of your stove, but he does not.

He sits.

The water gets hotter.

And still he sits.

He does not take note of the gradual change in the water temperature.

Eventually, the water gets hot enough that no being in its right mind would enter it, but since the frog was already in the pot, he stays.

He sits happily in the pot until he is boiled alive.

This story is often used to warn people of our toxic culture, how we can become so accustomed to small compromises that suddenly we look around and realize we have become accepting of many sins and immoralities because they seemed “normal” or “better than the next guy.”

In our case, I boiled my husband.

And instead of it being a bad thing, it was a pretty darn good marketing strategy for my nutritional plan for the family.

My husband will say pretty bluntly, “If you had tried to make all these changes all at once, it never would have worked. I would have fought them – and you. It would not have been good at all.”

In other words, I baby-stepped my own husband, Kitchen Stewardship style, into real food and natural living. I slowly boiled him alive…in the best possible way, because he’s now a well-nourished, well-informed eater of real food (who still loves a good hot dog when he can get one).

How You Too Can Boil a Husband

Taking it slowly is definitely the overarching theme of what your strategy needs to be, but there are other components that need to be part of the marketing package along with the timeline:

  1. Information Sharing
  2. Trust Building
  3. Retaining Normalcy
  4. Demonstrating Results
  5. Accepting Cheating

Some of this is excerpted from the 2010 post “How to Feed a Husband Real Food.” You may enjoy clicking through to see the rest and reading the comments from wives navigating the waters of real food transitions.

1. Share Information

Paul with cows calf farm (2) (475x356)

My husband is a computer guy, an engineer who truly appreciates cold, hard facts.  I try to be as up on the science behind the nutrition as I can, and I lay it out for him as plainly as possible.  He doesn’t have to know everything I know about what we’re eating, but he wants to know enough to understand why our food budget is expanding slightly and some of his favorite treats are disappearing.

I explain to him how certain foods will keep us healthy and the rationale behind purchasing decisions, whether for the environment or our health.  He knows enough to stay afloat about raw milk, gluten, and his own triglycerides. He visited our new milk farm with me and met the cows (much to his olfactory chagrin). But he understands why we trust our farmers now.

My advice for others?  Know how your husband likes to think.  Talk about food.  In manageable bites.  He deserves to know.

2. Build Trust

My husband knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have our family’s best interests in mind when I work in the kitchen.  He sees how much I care, how hard I work, and he honors that in how he reacts to the food I serve.  This is not something I can make a bulleted list about for you.

Building trust is simply part of our marriage, based on open communication, prayer together, and a foundation of faith and love. Just as we discuss our family size and our goals for the future, we can discuss our health concerns and desires openly.  He hears me pray for our family’s health and for guidance on what to buy and what to eat.  He knows I’m doing my very best, and that is of the utmost importance.  If you don’t have a foundation of trust in your marriage, stop working on real food and start with your relationship with your husband with God as the guide.

3. Retain Normalcy

hamburgers without buns

Bunless burgers and homemade French fries….Mmmmm…

This step is key to the gradual process. If everything I served was super healthy but didn’t really taste good, and if my husband felt like all of his favorite foods had been stripped away, the emotional upheaval of the sudden loss of tradition, memories, etc. would be too much. He would resent food, and it would come between us.

Here are some strategies:

  • I serve tasty alternatives often that he doesn’t notice his habits have been broken. We eat soaked oatmeal a lot for breakfast, which he loves, so the memory of daily cereal was less painful in the mornings.
  • I tentatively upgrade certain meals, hoping the end result will be as tasty as the original (or better, in a perfect world).  We’ve had great success with Homemade Hamburger Helper, Pepper Steak, and chili, all from Better Than a Box.  If I make a failure, I’m generally careful to wait at least a few days before trying something new!
    • In the last five years, his tastes has truly shifted, and he now enjoys real food, sauteed vegetables, simple soups, etc. much more than he did previously. I don’t have to be nearly as careful to serve “the normal” anymore, because we have a new normal…and it’s delicious. Change is possible!
  • Distract him from the weird stuff with normal stuff. I keep us stocked with frozen fruit to put in our yogurt, which is always available.  We eat lots of soups that taste great, and I work Mexican meals in as often as possible because they’re his favorite.  Homemade refried beans, guacamole and farm ground beef make for a great real food, husband-approved meal: tacos. I make sure we have hamburgers in the summer and homemade pizza every so often – used to be with soaked or sourdough whole wheat crust, now with various grain-free and gluten-free crusts, none of which we love, but I’ll keep looking.
  • I make sure we still have good treats around, but they’re all upgraded nutrition. I’m constantly trying recipes for grain-free or gluten-free baked goods and goodies, and we’ve had some cookies and brownies recently, both grain-free and using low amounts of unrefined sweeteners, that were mouth-watering.

4. Show Results

half marathon

This is the step that I’ve added since 2010. It took more than a year before I could really demonstrate to my husband that our changes were working. Every situation is going to be drastically different in this arena, because you have to start with whatever health situation you’re given. Here’s what we’ve seen over 4-5 years of slowly transitioning to real food:

 

  • No weight gain: People worry that when they ditch the low fat lifestyle and drink whole milk, plenty of butter, cheese, and coconut oil, that they might gain weight. No one here has gained a pound, and in fact, we’ve seen the opposite.
  • Weight loss: By cutting down on and cutting out grains, by exercising regularly, and with one big reduce-food-quantity-intake effort last spring, my husband is down over 20 pounds from his highest weight, and he looks and feels great.
  • General health: We get frustrated sometimes when we get wicked colds or other infections, but truth be told, we do notice that we handle the sick season better than many families, and we credit real food.
  • Crohn’s symptoms banished: This one was major for my husband. A few years ago, his Crohn’s flared up in the form of chronic diarrhea for two full months. A prescription anti-diarrheal couldn’t touch it, lab tests didn’t tell the doctors anything, and he was starting to discuss permanent medication to treat his Crohn’s.

    I heard Jordan Rubin, author of the Maker’s Diet and himself a survivor of near fatal Crohn’s, speak about diet, came home, and suggested we immediately cut all grains, legumes, and dairy and see what happened. Within two days his symptoms were 100% under control. Believe me, there’s nothing like results to convince a man that food makes a difference in one’s health. We had to make a radical change to show radical results, but with all the baby steps we had taken up until then, we were ready. (Here’s how we started the new diet, if you’re interested.)

  • Twice: The next time Crohn’s started to rear its ugly head, it was the old familiar “rumbling” and “gurgling” in the gut after a meal. Painful, yes, but worse, it was ominous. The pain was nothing my husband couldn’t handle, but he recognized it. It was like seeing that a man with a gun was lurking in the bushes outside your house and being unable to lock the doors or close the windows. Imagine knowing that your children were sleeping peacefully in their beds and this intruder was about to gain entry to your home.

    That’s what it feels like for a busy father of three when Crohn’s goes from being a memory to suddenly being present every day.Helpless.

    We started a new probiotic, and again within two days, the symptoms were gone. They have not returned, and my husband no longer is wondering every day how he will keep up with his children when his gut is wrenching after every meal.

  • Triglycerides within normal range: Although we’ve had some up and down shifts, the best triglycerides of my husband’s life were taken when he had put the most work into his own health. He owned it, and he wanted it, so he stayed committed to it. Whatever you can do to get someone you love – no matter who that person is – to invest in their own health, do it. That makes more difference than anything else you can do.

    5. Acceptable Cheating

    If I flipped out every time my husband had pizza with friends, went out for lunch, or bought a Gatorade on the way home from hockey, we’d have problems. (I get a little worked up but try to tone it down, to be honest. I could do better with the “accepting” part of this step.)

    Here’s one example of a yearly “big cheat” that has been a part of our food tradition for ten years:

    how to boil a husband - camping trip junk food (1) (500x375)

    how to boil a husband - camping trip junk food (3)

    how to boil a husband - camping trip junk food (5)

    Every August, I buy all the food for his ten-man camping trip out to the woods. Ten years ago, our only goal was cheap. I prided myself on finding the very best deal on all the white bread and cured meat you see in the photos above, shopping for about three weeks to make it happen.

    Since then, I’ve added fresh vegetables and cut fruit to the rotation, but I have no say in the main courses. Did you see all that cured meat? In case you missed it:

    how to boil a husband - camping trip junk food (6)

    how to boil a husband - camping trip junk food (7)how to boil a husband - camping trip junk food (8)

    The 6 boxes on the right are filled with bacon, if you’re wondering…

    When I took those photos, I even titled them “how to boil a husband – camping trip junk food,” because I knew that allowing a once-a-year total gluten-and-cured-meat-fest is integral to keeping the real food dynasty afloat at the Kimball house.

    I do make sure we eat a ton of fresh vegetables after he gets home, and instead of keeping the leftovers, I encourage him to give them away to his friends.

    Remembering from Whence we Came

    When we talk about other people trying to make nutritional changes – or who probably should be trying but aren’t – we both remember what it’s like to be back at square one.

    “I get it,” he’ll say. “It’s a huge mental leap from eating whatever you want to cutting all gluten or dairy, or making your own food all the time or whatever. It’s really hard…I don’t think we could ever go from where we were to the way we eat now in one huge leap.”

    Baby steps.

    I emphasize them for a reason, folks.

    They work.

    If all you can do for step one is have a serious talk with your husband about how tempting packaged treats are to you, and beg him to keep his junk food at work so that he is supporting you in sticking to your own goals, then that’s a great place to start.

    Keep up the conversations about food, try to find some real results to demonstrate, and make sure you make meals that are pleasing to your husband’s palate at least half/some/most of the time. Use your intuition to gauge when you’re moving too fast or not including enough “familiar” in your day-to-day eating. (Beef tongue fajitas are a good example of something I just don’t tell him about anymore; it sets me back a few months on any progress!)

    Stay the Course

    When I asked my husband this morning if he had anything to add to the “How to Boil a Husband” tutorial, he said, “Persistence.”

    I mentioned, “And tacos and brownies every so often?”

    Surprised, he raised his eyebrows and said in wonder, “Oh yeah…I guess that does really help, doesn’t it?”

    He didn’t even notice that it was all part of the plan.

    Don’t give up on your spouses, good kitchen stewards. Even the most ardent cereal lover can come around.

    Use a deliberate marketing strategy for the real food transition, show positive growth, and take good care of your “stockholders.” Your investment in building trust, sharing information and keeping the changes gradual will allow you to form a successful partnership with a common goal, and you’ll be reaping nutritional dividends before you know it.

    What challenges do you face in bringing your spouse along for the real food ride? What successes have you experienced?Check out the rest of the many Eat Well, Spend Less series posts for inspiration, and watch Saturday for a roundup of how the other EWSL ladies are getting back to basics.

    ———————————————

    I’d love to see more of you!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.

    If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

    Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

 

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76 Comments so far ↓

  • Lori

    My husband became interested in health when he finally started having health problems! It is still hard from him because he was raised on junk. My grown sons like to eat healthy since they were raised on healthy food. Raise your children on healthy food!

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  • Pamela via Facebook

    I just love your post title!!!

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  • Erin via Facebook

    Thank you, I needed this!

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  • Mary via Facebook

    I’m working on my husband too! He’s finding it hard to give up his grains as well. Loves my rice/quinoa mix so I’ve started to at least soak it before cooking. Me? I’ve lost 10 pounds in 2 months wihtout any other changes. I’m about 90% grain free. No milk = no acne for me. I haven’t been able to find raw milk near me anywhere but I’m looking.

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  • Holly via Facebook

    Excellent!!!!

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  • Laura via Facebook

    Excellent!

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  • Sarah

    Still writing on my pop-guzzling, gas station-food-loving husband. He did make the calls to find us grassfed beef and pastured pork though. Progress!

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    Sarah Reply:

    *working

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  • Diane via Facebook

    Absolutely true – brilliant post !

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  • Stephanie

    My husband came around quickly when he realized I was going to stop buying low-fat foods! He had been suffering through my skim milk and chicken breasts, and now he gets to drink whole raw milk and eat a variety of real meats.

    Another thing that really worked for him was learning about the ethics of real food. He cares a lot about justice, and when he learned about the way big companies like Smithfield and Monsanto exploit small farmers, he became passionate about buying local foods, and even growing our own!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Stephanie,
    Another awesome page to add to the husband-handbook! You knowing what is important to your husband allowed that side of him to get connected to the eating/food thing. Perfect! :) Katie

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    Krystal Wight Armstrong Reply:

    Stephanie,
    I’d love to know any specific resources (books, articles, blogs) you found really spoke to him. My husband has similar passions and he might be interested in some of that. I’m not sure I’d know where to start looking specifically.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Stephanie Reply:

    A good place to start would be the movie, Food Inc. I think it’s available on Netflix. I’ll ask him more about what books and articles he has read (he started doing a lot of research on his own after we watched that movie!).

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rebekah

    I think this is great, Katie, because it shows respect for the husband rather than treating him like a stupid kid who needs to be fooled into eating right. By and large, I think most men WILL listen and learn, even if it takes them longer than we’d prefer! My husband is definitely not inclined to be “crunchy,” but he’s a smart and curious guy who is fascinated by concepts like probiotics, higher nutrient levels in grassfed beef, insulin production, etc. The key is taking the time to explain rather than just saying “we’re eating this way so you better shut up!” :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Rebekah,
    Amen to that!! :) Katie

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  • Paula Cornmesser

    As a single income family with 5 kids, we always grew most of our own food and I preserved extra for winter use. Our kids would often lament, “there’s no food in this house, just ingredients.” They remember when grocery trips involved huge bags of flour and if they were lucky, a box of corn flakes.
    A year ago, we became interested in a locavore lifestyle and since we had 300+ jars/bags of canned and frozen produce and two freezers full of our own meat, we decided to take the plunge. For four months, our only “food” purchase was raw milk from a local dairy and local honey.
    We are entering our second year and are attempting to go grain free. My husband is a health care systems consultant and registered nurse, so he knows the nutrition facts and has always been totally on board with this new lifestyle…although he never passes up a cookie if one is offered to him :)
    Our children and now 9 grandchildren are getting used to the new family traditons…the grandchildren especially love that Gramma can make food and “she doesn’t use a box.” We’re hoping to pass on the legacy of healthy eating to future generations.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Paula,
    What a beautiful testament to and legacy of real food and care for your health! Fantastic! :) Katie

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  • Stacy

    What a great post, Katie! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Besides the higher cost of some things, my biggest challenge is “proving” that real food is actually better. Because I get much of my info from you and other bloggers and haven’t supported that info from other sources, my husband questions it. He wants to see results of scientific studies in order to be convinced.

    I do feel that I’ve had success, though, it finding very economical ways to incorporate the real food. Buying food through Bulk Natural Foods and Azure Standard and from online sources like Vitacost have really helped. I also get raw milk and eggs from a farm cheaper than I could from the store!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Stacy,
    Sounds like you’re a darn smart shopper and your husband is a smart man! He should ask for real proof. :) When we looked into raw milk, I had an 8-page document on the computer of all the scientific sources I checked out.

    Good for you!
    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Al via Facebook

    Good article. My eating habits are definitely evolving.

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  • Krysta

    Have a suggestion for that yearly camping trip :D My hubby is the “grill master” at our house so I bought him “Campfire Cuisine” which would be a perfect way to baby step allll the husbands :P
    Here is an amazon link to the book: “http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594740852/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1594740852&linkCode=as2&tag=froinsti-20

    BTW I’m Southernfrog on Instagram :)

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  • Jessica

    My biggest stumbling block with my husband is actually implementing a plan for more than a day LOL. He grew up in a house where they ate the same meal every Monday, Tues, Wed …etc, so I think it has scarred him a bit for a planned out meal. I have been able to show him that I can cook yummy meals from scratch, using real ingredients by continuing to persevere. Usually, when I want to make something new that he is hesitant about, I make enough for just me, and prepare him leftovers, or something else that is simple. He can try what I made, but still has food he knows he likes.

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jessica,
    You really make two meals? Maybe you just don’t need to tell your husband you planned it out and let him think it’s spontaneous! :) Katie

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  • Laura G.

    Thank you for this post. This is a constant struggle in our house. My husband is thin and healthy and just wants to be “normal.” His ideal diet would be the vegetarian version of the Standard American Diet. His mom had some health problems when he was growing up and changed all of their cooking to fairly restrictive healthy food. Every time I make changes, he has flashbacks to his sugar-free (vegan?) childhood.

    We have made progress – he loves that low-fat/fat free foods have been outlawed! And he loves our change to real butter. He’s fine with our raw milk – though I think he misses homogenization.

    I think I’m healthier now than when we started this journey four years ago, but I am also so tired of the fight. Good food does not speak to my husband – he’s one of those rare men who would never eat if he could get away with it! He wants quick, easy, few dishes, and ideally from a box. At least he’s super laid back…

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Laura,
    I have a friend whose husband is like that – “he eats only to survive” she says, which is great because she can serve just about anything, but I can see it going the same way if she started spending more and making food a big deal.

    On those days when you feel the most tired of the fight…go out for pizza! ;)

    Oh, and my husband misses homogenization too.

    You are not alone! :) Katie

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  • Jendeis

    Katie, thank you so, so much for this post. This is just the motivation we needed at just the right time. :)

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  • Courtney @ "The Life & Food of Mrs. Curly Girl

    What an amazing article! Now that I think about it, I’ve been “boiling” my husband, and myself, for about a year now! Now my husband and I are 3 days away from completing the Whole30 program and he’s lost over 15 lbs! I couldn’t be more proud and excited about our health and our future.

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  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I have to say this — know your husband!

    My husband and I are both black-and-white, all-or-nothing people. So, when I brought up all this stuff to him and said “Here, look at this research I did, I think we should try it,” he said “Sure, okay, whatever you think is best.” He had no issues with me immediately removing snack foods, pop, etc. from our home, because we talked about it together and he understood it was right to move in a new direction. I really can’t think of any change he fought me on, and we’ve come a LONG way in the last five years. He’s such a supporter that he’s constantly talking up cooking at home, making stock, brewing/drinking kombucha, raw milk, fat, and so on at work! He’s talked to many co-workers and offered to help with their health concerns by sharing what worked for us. He’s not shy about it at all — he probably shares more openly than I do!

    His position on it all right now is even a bit harsh towards men at times. He basically says, “Look, if it’s important to her that you try it, then do it. Listen to her. She wants you to be healthy. Step up!”

    Not that he isn’t tempted by donuts or pizza showing up at work and not that he doesn’t *occasionally* indulge (not that we all don’t!). But we’re able to talk about that issue together, about our “old favorites” and how we struggle with temptation sometimes, and we work together in the kitchen to make healthier versions of these favorites. He would LOVE if I perfected donuts! Right now he’s grain free and I don’t have access to pastured lard so it has to wait, but it’s definitely something we’ll explore together down the line. Even so he’s not upset about not having donuts and about to go hit Krispy Kreme or something — he’s fully committed to not eating that because he knows he doesn’t feel well when he does. He also works out 4 – 5x a week now.

    So — bottom line — know him! And approach him in the way that is going to work for him. Many husbands need the baby stepping, but some are a little crazy extremist, like mine (and me!) and big leaps work, if you both are up to it.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kate –
    Definitely true! That’s awesome that your hubs is so on board – works with you in the kitchen? Very cool. So yes, personalities are absolutely paramount here! :) Katie

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  • Theresa Ceniccola

    Great story, Katie! And congrats to your husband. Love that you don’t flip out anymore on his ‘cheat’ days.

    My husband and I have been “boiling” each other for years. He’s the one who slowly got me into exercise by buying me a bike more than 20 years ago. And I got him into running by doing a marathon and challenging him to beat me! We both gave up soda a long time ago and have very gradually changed our eating habits over time. Sometimes (when I’m focused on how much MORE I want to do to improve our health) I forget about how far we’ve come. I forget that we used to eat pasta and bread 5 nights a week and now we eat kale and almonds almost every day. Now we’ve got to start boiling the kids a little more:-)

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  • Linda

    I didn’t really have trouble getting my hubby to go along with this. He has always been agreeable to my dietary changes, except when I tried to do something with tofu. Before I got serious with a wapf diet he was overweight (even though he was working out) and heading toward diabetes. Now, no beer belly, no meds and a good weight. He loves everything I prepare. I always make sure he has a breakfast to take to work and the people he works with notice what he has. they talk to him about his weight and what he’s eating.
    I have to learn how to boil my son. It’s my fault. He grew up eating a SAD diet because I didn’t think we could afford better. First it was junk food, then lowfat junk food, and now cooking from scratch whole foods. He misses the junk when he is home. He is back at school now so I can’t control what he eats. I worry that he will have diabetes or something else later in life hubby says he will figure it out eventually and change his ways. Kudus to you Katie and all the moms who are feeding your children the wapf way now.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • AmyK

    Oh how I wish my strides were as big as yours!! I am still struggling with my husband & there are definitely days that I feel I have made *zero* progress. My guy loves his gas station sodas (diet) & snacks, believes eggs are the most unhealthy food there is, & would banish all full-fat products given the option – one more note, he thinks the individually wrapped cheese slices are very good for you. He does our shopping & up until Jan 1 had been purchasing separate lowfat foods for himself while the kids & I eat our full fat real food (I am thankful that he follows my list, even though he does make fun of it). I have approached this from the budget angle with absolutely no result and from the health aspect whereby he declares my ideas “wrong.” Incidentally, he is the only member of our household who struggles with his weight and a few related medical problems.
    When I announced that one of my goals for this year was to dive even deeper into my “everything from scratch” philosophy, he may have had a slight blackout – just until the homemade yogurt was ready, at which point he declared that I have gone off the deep end completely! I am also thankful for my strong resolve and my ability to stick to my guns :) One of his goals for this year is to try to be more supportive of me & my goals, his first idea was to start eating what the rest of us do and to acknowledge that I have truly spent hours planning, baking & preparing our meals (I’m a 45 hour-a-week working mom on top of it). Maybe this is the year I make some progress…

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Amy,
    Your husband’s goal is just lovely! You definitely want to help him remember that he made that one…. ;)

    Wow, 45 hours a week working – good for you! I am not sure how I’d keep up on everything – impressive! I pray that this is the year, for you, that your husband sees results. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sara A

    My husband and I have been boiling each other for 20 years. It’s what marriage is about, isn’t it? Learning from each other. I am now much more of a neat freak, and he fully embraces our way of eating. I stopped wheat and dairy about 25 years ago with wonderful results. One great thing about him-he adores my cooking, so feeding him what I want has been great. Except for his belief that meat was bad and we had to eat fish for protein (that was a lot of fish we ate). In the last few years he’s discovered he has more energy and able to withstand his international trips much better now that his diet includes pasture raised meats. Pretty much everything we eat is local. organic, and cheaper than the health food stores. And it’s delicious to both of us. Every couple has their challenges. I can’t discuss money (altho even that is now opening up, so don’t give up on even the most resistant husbands, just don’t push bc they push back!) but food is our happy place. At 62 he looks awesome and always wants people to guess his age, vain guy that he is. …

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  • Tara H

    Great, great post! Thanks so much for sharing it.

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  • charis

    i love this! so very practical and it really is the way we have done our journey as well… little bit at a time and allowing cheats… really we have come so far and i thought we were pretty healthy 11 years ago when we got married. i didn’t know how much further we could go.

    i also agree that you don’t have to compromise taste to eat healthy! it takes practice, but healthy can taste far superior to junk!

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  • Bob

    Amazing article! It’s definitely important to eat healthier. :)

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  • Karin

    Katie, Thank you so much for the reminder, slow and steady wins the race, and the hearts and health of our loved ones. When my husband and I were married 12 years ago the only vegetable he ate was ketchup. While I sometimes get discouraged (finding a random fast food bag tucked in the trash can), I need to be reminded of this fact and that now, 12 years later, some of his very favorite meals are meatless, made 100% from the bounty in our garden. Thank you for all you do!

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  • Rachel Mullins

    That was a great headline! And a great article that followed :)

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  • Rachel

    This made me realize just how blessed I am to have a husband who will eat anything I make. We still (both of us) are working on kicking the soda habit but it’s getting better everyday!

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  • Asiyah

    Wow! I tell you this was a de’ javu. When my already been boiled husband and I got married, I had to tell him every ingredient in anything I cooked or prepared. Years later, I began to hear him giving good advices to others for all sorts of things, during pregnancy, when having cold or flu syptoms etc. Today, he will call me during the classes he teaches to have me help him explain the benefits of yogurt and garlic and how to make your own yogurt. He is enjoying the choice of bicycling as his method of transportation and trying to extend himself further into health. I have to say it has been an amazing and truly funny journey to watch!

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  • Ashley

    Thank you so much for this article, Katie. I am currently single, but am aware that the way I eat holds great potential to be a point of contention with my future spouse. I’ll have to bookmark this to refer to in the future! :)

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  • 'Becca

    Great article–despite the alarming title! :-)

    For us, since we both cook, food choices and methods of preparation are a matter of mutual decision. I do have a little more control as the primary shopper. For the most part, we have agreed on each step, but it’s definitely been a gradual process. The one thing that made the biggest difference was giving up meat for Lent, because it made us aware of the distinction between eating something because you feel your body needs it and eating it out of habit, and because we found that making a change like this was easier than we expected.

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  • Shiree Martin

    LOVE this post! I have unknowingly been boiling my husband for our whole marriage! :)

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  • Alice Fremont

    Haha I love the title! I was wondering where you were going to go with that. But, honestly, that is amazing. His transformation is amazing!

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  • Angela Mills

    My husband helps a lot, right now I’m in a lot of pain and he’s doing the grocery shopping for me, going to 3 different stores like I do to find what we need. The only thing is he gets craving for fast food and will bring it home to surprise me. He also buys junk and eats it at work. I never complain, but I’ve been thinking that if I could make some healthy things that would satisfy his craving for junk food, he probably wouldn’t eat it as often. He’s also very open to learning why and how, he even went to a nutrition seminar with me. I think the key for him is to hear it from someone besides me!

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  • Amy D.

    I am trying to learn to slowly boil him with baby steps, but his baby steps have been more baby-ish than mine. That, and I have a really bad habit of getting a bit too excited when he accepts one baby step and then get so gung-ho about it that I immediately try to go all in…yeah, that doesn’t work. (^_~)

    The biggest hurdle that I’ve had is getting him off the cereal, followed very closely by attempting to introduce him to new veggies (broccoli and carrots are pretty much all that he likes…). When he gets home from work, he has a bowl of cereal (to “tide him over” until dinner). After dinner, if he feels even the slightest bit of not-fullness, he eats a bowl of cereal. If he gets the munchies, he has a bowl of cereal. He does not know what to do if there is not a box of cereal in the house, despite my abundance of fresh fruit and homemade yogurt in the fridge. I kid you not – a few months ago I had a FULL fridge and a FULL pantry, but no cereal and he, with a look of absolute frustration, told me that there was nothing to eat in our house! (-_-)

    I thought that I had finally gotten him at least partially off the cereal when I made steel-cut oatmeal for the first time over the summer – he told me that it was awesome. So I started making it for him more often. And now he hates it.

    Since he takes breakfast “to go” every morning, I really don’t know what else to do for him other than giving into the cereal gimmes and attempting to hide the box so he doesn’t eat any more when he gets home. Any ideas for good mobile breakfast-y foods? (^_^)

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    M Reply:

    I always have bacon or sausages, homemade muffins or pancakes in the freezer ready to be popped into the toaster. My husband just grabs what he wants and eats it on the road! This was the only way my husband would stop eating cereal after 25 years of frosted flakes for breakfast!

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Smart wife! :) Katie

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    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Amy,
    Wow…that’s a pretty serious cereal habit. Is there a 12-step program for cereal? ;)

    2 cereal-based steps in the right direction that might help:
    1. http://www.vigilant-eats.com/ – oatmeal you can eat cold by pouring milk in. Just had some samples, and they’re pretty good! Don’t know about the not soaking/not cooking nutritionally, but at least it’s not extruded grain.
    2. http://attunefoods.com/ – their cereals are not extruded, whole grain, no or little sweetener, no white sugar or HFCS.

    Other to-go breakfast ideas:
    1. homemade pancakes in the freezer
    2. sourdough toast with nut butter or butter/raw honey (I miss that now that we’re GF!!)
    3. hard-boiled eggs? My hubs could take a plate with an omelet on it in the car, but not everyone would do that!
    4. muffins! homemade whole wheat or grain-free with coconut flour
    5. burrito breakfast wraps – with eggs and peppers and stuff.

    Would he put some cereal on top of yogurt? Might be a bridge to yogurt without cereal…

    Good luck, Amy! :) Katie

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    Amy D. Reply:

    Thanks for the suggestions, ladies! I’ll try some of these. On the bright side, my hubby DOES love my cooking (most of the time), so that helps. He WILL eat yogurt next to cereal for breakfast, but then when he gets home from work, he forgets everything else we have in the fridge and heads straight for that box. There seriously does need to be a 12-step program for this!
    (^_~)

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    Nat Davis Reply:

    Lol, good luck on working with your hubby. Mine is a cereal addict, too- although he’ll look elsewhere before he goes to cereal. But it is his staple breakfast item!

    One thing that I’ve found that helps is making homemade burritos. He LOVES them- I can’t make them fast enough! I do both breakfast burritos and beef/bean. All the ingredients are homemade, and he easily grabs one to take on the road (or any other time, for that matter! LOL)

    I’m still working on getting him away from cereal, but for the most part, as long as there’s burritos in there, he’ll happily indulge in that.

    I have some other stuff I make, too, which I’ll be making a post on before too long. You can check out my blog for ideas if you want! (I don’t know that I can post the link, but I think it’s in my name… idk LOL)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Kaylin Reply:

    Hey ladies, I’ve found a fabulous granola recipe that doubles as a cereal at our house. We make a few changes using coconut oil for butter (allergies) and we leave out the shredded coconut just because we didn’t have any the first time we made it. http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/04/04/recipe-granola-bars-cereal/

    [Reply to this comment]

    Beth Reply:

    I have a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook called “Cooking with Whole Grains” (1984) that has Wheat and Bran Cereal recipes. I wonder if there are more recipes like that out there? There is no ‘extruding the grains’ step :) I haven’t tried the recipes because one calls for peanut butter and my son is allergic. But I keep thinking if I could find a way to sub something maybe it would work. I can’t imagine making homemade flakes all the time, but maybe occasionally? It’s basically wheat flour (I am guessing you could use any kind you want to), wheat germ, peanut butter, salt and water rolled out and baked like thin crackers. I think granola is probably better, but some people really like their flakes or crunchy shapes.

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    Donna Reply:

    I agree with one of the other posters about granola. My oldest son is a cereal addict, his fav being a very sugary, cinnamony concoction… So I make cinnamon & brown sugar granola for him and he loves it with raw milk!! I use Alton Brown’s recipe with about 1/2 the brown sugar and add it whatever I have on hand. Sometimes it’s cocoa with dried cherries, or apple chips & cinnamon, almond & honey is really good too.
    I also just discovered a great grab & go breakfast item just a couple of hours ago… Baked oatmeal made into muffins!!
    We tried this recipe, doubling it & adding pb, mashed banana & a few 60% cacao chocolate chips. OH. MY. YUMMINESS!! http://www.stacymakescents.com/kitchen-tip-tuesday-82311
    I think they may convince my hubby to eat breakfast since he doesn’t at all.. ;o)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Julia Skinner

    I have been slowly weaning my husband onto a real food, grain free diet, his attitude is I will eat anything you put in front of me but when I go out I will have bread. He got home from a work lunch yesterday and said, paraphrasing ‘you will be so proud of me, I had the curry and no bread or rice, everyone was eating so much bread and you didn’t need it.’ They come around :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Isn’t that awesome!!?? Good for you!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Angela

    Katie, I LOVE this post! My husband was just diagnosed with Crohn’s so this might be the post to show him why we need to do some baby steps. I’ve made your granola bars for him and he loves them; I am nervous about peanut butter as part of a problem for his Crohn’s, though. I just love your blog! I like to look at it often and I am hoping your success will be mirrored by ours, once my hubby and I are both on board for real food. I’ve been real butter & whole-milk for a while now but grain-free would be a stretch for both of us. Lent is coming, though… :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Angela,
    It is a HUGE leap, but you have no idea how much easier it is during Lent. DH says he can’t do the big things for anyone but God, and it’s so true for me too. Yes, PB is troublesome for some…my DH seems to fly in the face of everything that is “supposed” to hurt him – nightshades (peppers and onions), spicy foods, nuts. They’re all good, but Pizza Hut + pop = messed up. Gluten is definitely a problem for him, but not every time, which makes abstaining 100% tough.

    If you want to go grain-free, my best advice is to buy a bag of coconut flour and find a couple good recipes. It will last a really long time and give you some sense of normalcy – muffins, pancakes, crepes for wraps, quick breads, biscuits. I can email you some!!

    God bless! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lydia

    I’ve also been baby stepping my family into whole foods. Most of this came about to me taking a lesser paying job and us needing to make changes to how I shop for food. I now make a lot of our noodles, breads, stock, etc. etc. I knew that I had truly changed how my husband thinks of food last night after he helped me shred the chicken. HE, not me telling him, but HE asked me where the pot was for the bones so I could make stock. I say he’s on board!
    [email protected]

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Lydia,
    All the women whose husbands have accidentally thrown away the bones this month are cheering for you!! That’s awesome!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Robin

    It was fun to read this as it somewhat mirrors my own experience. I’ve been married for 9 years. My husband took his time making changes slowwwwly. This fall he got gout for possibly the third time in a few months and that was it. Now he is vegan. Doesn’t drink beer anymore. Lost 20 pounds and is more committed than I have ever seen him. He looks and feels great. Some things take their own sweet time. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Robin,
    AWESOME story! Hate to hear about someone getting sick, but when it’s a gateway to better health and owning it for himself, that’s a serious silver lining. :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Eat Well, Spend Less: Back to Basics (a round-up) | Simple Bites

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  • Lina

    Love it, love it, love it! Thanks for some good tips, reminders, encouragement, etc.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Weekend Wrap-Up: Eat Well, Spend Less, What I’m Reading, and a Day in the Life

    [...] How to Boil a Husband by Katie of Kitchen Stewardship [...]

  • DessertForTwo

    What a great post!
    I agree–gradual is the way to go. I have my Mr. reading food labels–something he never thought he’d do before he met me!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Weekend Wrap Up #11 - Dualing Moms

    [...] he’s content with his gargantuan bowls of cereal and milk. I love Katie’s analogy of boiling a husband the same way you do a frog – gradually. The fact that her husband started in a situation [...]

  • Sarah via Facebook

    I read this the other day. My husband’s transition was fairly similar!

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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