Food says a lot about you and affects your daily life and choices. It can be a little challenging to accommodate completely different eating habits, especially if you and your partner would like to eat and cook together. However, there are ways to make it work, even if your diets seem polar opposite and your eating schedules are different.
1. Have an Open Conversation
People have different dietary needs and you will need to find ways to accommodate everyone. An excellent place to start is to have a conversation about the kinds of foods you and your partner prefer.
Some good questions to ask include:
- How can you make meal times less stressful?
- Is there a restaurant that can cater to both of your food preferences?
- Who gets to pick the restaurant for date night?
- Can you write a timetable or plan that works for both of you?
- What foods can you both eat? How can you incorporate them into your mealtimes?
It may also be worthwhile to visit a nutritionist and ask for advice. You may think you know what’s best for your body, but you might find that you need to change your diet to suit your workouts and fitness goals.
Keep in mind that this will be an ongoing conversation. Your partner might decide to eat less sugar or try the keto diet. Making space to update your dietary preferences will help you to support each other and change your eating habits as needed.
2. Meet Each Other Halfway
Your list of food differences might be long, but you may find your list of shared favorite flavors is longer. Discover foods you can enjoy together. When you plan your meals, think about ways to combine specific foods to suit your diets. Make your own versions of favorite meals to accommodate each other, but also find new ways of incorporating foods.
For example, if you prefer chicken over fish but your partner doesn’t, make a compromise and incorporate fish into one meal every week. If your dietary choices aren’t for medical or religious reasons, you can give and take in different situations. Having separate meals or just one similar item on your plate is okay. You could try salad combinations with protein on the side, potato wedges, and other side dishes.
3. Cook Together
Even if you have different eating habits, cooking with your partner will strengthen your relationship. Couples who create relationship rituals, like cooking together, experience more positive emotions and satisfaction. Cooking together allows you to learn how your partner prepares their meals. You will thank yourself when you plan a romantic dinner and need some ideas.
If you like meal prep, consider cooking separately and storing food items in separate containers. So if you don’t eat any meat but your partner does, you could make rice individually and store it on its own, then make sides like roast vegetables, chicken breast and tofu so each of you can pick and choose what you want. You could also find a restaurant with menus that let you order meals you can mix and match.
4. Set Boundaries and Be Supportive
Your choice of food is personal, and so is your partner’s. You’re allowed to say no if you would not like another drink or extra dessert. At the same time, you need to support your partner and express any concerns without judgment.
You may have planned to eat healthy meals the whole week, and a Thursday evening after a rough day at work led to your partner suggesting takeout and Netflix on the couch, which turned into takeout for the rest of the week. Give your partner grace and encourage them to pickup healthier habits again without harsh criticism.
If your partner is on a diet but you would still like to eat certain foods, have a designated area for your food items and set boundaries around that area. Agree that your partner will not visit the area or buy any items for you. Removing the temptation makes it easier for them to stick to their diet.
5. Consider Eating Separately
Make room to eat separately if you have different schedules. You might have dinner at different times if you work from home and work a little late in the evening while your partner has a regular 9 to 5 at the office. You can make time to eat together during the weekend or agree on one weeknight to dine with each other.
If you have similar schedules, your breakfast and lunch times could differ depending on hunger levels and portion sizes. Dinner time can be the one meal that overlaps. Still, keep an eye on each other and hold each other accountable when you see that meals are consistently being skipped or eaten too close to bedtime.
Planning Meals With Different Eating Habits
While it will take time, planning and honest communication, planning meals together is worth pursuing. Be kind to your partner and keep an open mind. With all the challenges of relationships, your different eating habits can become a fun, safe and supportive environment for you both to live well.
Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to nutrition, healthy living, and anything food-related. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness trends and recipes.