Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A House Divided

As I was doing some casual reading last weekend, I ran across this quote from former President Abraham Lincoln:

"A house divided against itself cannot stand"
Well, I am very much hoping to prove the exception to the rule in this case!
You see, when I made the decision to begin the Whole30, and make this way of eating a life-long thing, I tried desperately to get my husband to do the 30 days with me on a "trial basis". I love him dearly, but his eating habits had slid as much as mine had over the last 6 months, and they are starting to impact his health. In his defense, he has made an effort to improve the quality of the foods that he is eating (no more McDonalds/fast food, and he's cut down his Pepsi consumption from 2L a day to 20oz a day), but he was just not ready to go "all in" with me - and I have to respect his decision - you simply can't force this way of life on someone who is not ready for it - it has to be something that a person wants for themself.
As a result, I haven't been able to "purge" my house of non-paleo foods. Mainstays in my husbands diet are (white) bagels w/ cream cheese, toast, cereals with milk, sandwiches with cheese, baked beans, sodas, sweet tea, and frozen desserts like popsicles.
Fortunately, he doesn't complain when I cook Paleo dinners (I refuse to cook two seperate meals!), but I have found it hard over the last week to be sitting at my desk in the morning, and suddenly have the heavenly smell of a toasty bagel floating through the air, tempting me! It's equally as hard to watch him eat a popsicle after dinner, which is when my sugar cravings tend to kick into high gear. Lastly, I found out early in the first day that opening my pantry and seeing the bread, cereal, and bagles was not a good thing for my will-power . . or my sanity!
I know that many people who follow a Paleo lifestyle have family members or children who are not Paleo-Compliant - I would have to assume that it is difficult for them as well, especially in the begining as they are trying to go "cold turkey".
So what can be done to make things a little less difficult, without forcing the Paleo lifestyle on those that we live with who do not want it for themselves?
Here is my solution:
  • I set up a seperate shelf in my pantry, above my eye level, and I put all of my husbands "non-paleo" foods on this shelf. I have two shelfs at eye level and below that are full of all of my Paleo-compliant foods. So when I reach into the pantry for olive oil or coconut milk, I don't have to reach past his bagels :)
  • I did the same in the fridge - there is one shelf dedicated to his soft drinks, baked beans, cheeses, and anything else that doesn't fit into my diet - there are also two condiment shelves with the salad dressings, ketchup, mayo, ect. Then I have MY shelves stocked full of veggies, fruit, lean meats, and water :) When I open the fridge, I can go straight to my shelves, and don't even have to glance at the stuff on his shelf that would normally tempt me or set off a craving.
  • I've also asked him not to leave the bagels or toaster on the counter-top, as both make me think of bagels, and tend to set off a craving - he's been great about putting these things away when he's done with them.
  • Lastly, I just leave the room after dinner when he's enjoying his popsicle - I can easily use that 5 minutes to straighten up in the kitchen, lay my workout clothes out for the next day, or sort some laundry - it would be unfair of me to ask him to leave the room!
I have found that these simple steps have helped me a million times over in surviving the first week of my new Paleo way of life. They have also helped to reduce some of the tension in the house (because I'll admit - I can get a little cranky/moody when I'm craving something, and he's sitting there eating the very thing that I want!)
I also remind myself that I could have these things if I wanted them, but I am making the choice to cut them out of my diet in order to improve my health, both now and in the future. Looking at it in this light helps me to avoid the feelings of "restriction", and help to make me less grouchy, and a little easier to live with ;)


Melissa Urban said...

Christie - love this post. We're going to link to this on our site tomorrow, as a way to help other people stuck in the same situation. Thanks for the inspiration, and for sharing your thoughts. Best of luck on your Whole30, keep in touch via OUR site too!

Christie said...

Thanks Melissa!

I'm happy to share any little tips and tricks that I find to make the adjustment period a little easier, becausee Lord knows I don't know what I'd do without the tips and tricks that I've picked up from others ;)

Yes, I'm still visiting the Whole9 site too, and actually got some great feedback through the comments yesterday regarding planning for a few business trips that I have coming up. There is such a great supportive community on your site - its wonderful!

brooknicole31 said...

Christie -

Great advice. I went through this with my husband and 4 year old daughter, as well. I've been slowly weaning them off breads, cereals, crackers, cookies, rice, pasta, etc. Both had temper tantrums at various points, but we're well on our way to breaking the addiction. My 4 year old doesn't even ask for cereal anymore! I hope your husband joins you soon. Best wishes!

Trixie said...

Hi Chistie!
I just found your site from Whole 30. Hoping to find some new meal ideas here etc! I've been eating Paleo now for about 3 months and love it! Luckily my fiance eats what ever I put in front of him:)

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of ritual to compensate for what's essentially a lack of willpower. Self-control will take you a lot further than avoidance.

Kerri Heffel said...

Christie- I came across your post on Whole9. I've been paleo for over a year now and have experienced the same 'house divided'. It was definitely tough in the beginning for me, but not caving into those cravings has helped make me stronger. Great tips!

Mel said...

Oh man, thank YOU for this post. My boyfriend is returning from Navy deployment at the end of this month, and while *my* condo has been a Paleo zone for the last 18 months, he eats like a picky 7 year old hell-bent on craptastic fast food and soda. It's going to take a lot for me to not beat the Spaghetti-O's (!!!!!) out of his fist... hopefully this will help.

Christie said...

Hi Brook, Trixie, Kerri, and Mel! Thanks for the feedback :)

Brook - congrats on the progress you've made in "converting" your household - I'm still in the process of taking baby steps, and hearing plenty of complaints from the peanut gallery, but now that I'm past the first few weeks, it's MUCH easier!

Trixie - that's awesome that your fiance eats whatever you fix! I hope to get to that point one of these days. . .

Keri - I agree - the first 2 weeks weren't easy, but I'm about half way through week 3 now, and it's going so much better - no more need to "hide the toaster"! ;)

Mel - Good Luck! I would suggest starting gently by just getting him to try some of your meals (in addition to the "crap-tastic" foods that he eats). Then, hopefully once he sees for himself that healthy food CAN be good, it will be easier for him to cut back on the other stuff!

Anonymous - it seems that you are taking a subject meant to be constructive and positive and choosing to view it in a negative light - I'm sorry - going through life looking at the negative side of things must be rough!

Cdineb said...

Christie, while I do not subscribe to your lifestyle, my boyfriend does, and I have followed a similar system except I allow the carbs post-workout, and have a much more "laid back" approach to eating. I think what you're doing is great - you've made a commitment to a lifestyle change, and are not just finding things that work for you, but sharing these with others as well. Keep it up and best of luck on your journey - Claudine

Christie said...

Claudine - thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement!

I think you worded it perfectly - I'm finding what works for me, and sharing it - it may not work for everyone else, but if it helps out even one or two people, I'm happy :)

jpatti said...

I don't necessarily do paleo, but low-carb due to diabetes, and do mostly whole foods for health.

Hubby is neither diabetic nor fully on the whole foods thing.

Since I do most of the cooking, he mostly eats my way. And otherwise, we compromise.

We keep carby stuff at home for him, but NOT the most tempting stuff for me. Like... he can have crackers or potato chips (but not Fritos or Doritos), most cookies and cakes (but NOT Pepperidge Farm chocolate layer cakes), pasta (but NOT cheese ravioli), most breads (but NOT a good crusty loaf of French or sourdough), ice cream sandwiches (but NOT pints of Ben and Jerry's), etc.

Sort of a compromise, he eats what he wants, but the stuff that tempts me MOST, we don't have in the house. If he really wants Fritos, he can buy them and eat them when he's out so I don't have to be tempted.

IMO, for the long haul, it's easier to avoid temptation than say no to it regularly. The EASY way to eat a burger without the bun is to fry it at home and have no buns in the house at the time.

So... he can have his junk, as long as it isn't my favorite types of junk.

And otherwise... I think of his food like I do the cat food. Perfectly good food, just not for me.

jpatti said...

And for the commenter who said the business about willpower...

NO ONE's willpower is on 100%, day in and day out, month after month, year after year.

There's days you're tired, emotional, upset, days you need to use your willpower for some other, bigger challenge, all sorts of days.

I've been low-carbing for a couple decades now. What works for a few months to lose weight does NOT continue working year after year, when the only payoff for all that willpower is a number on a blood glucose meter.

If you're really doing this for the LONG haul, not for a few weeks, you need to arrange your life to make it easy. Otherwise, you're planning to fail.

Shanti said...

Great job! I think the way you're working around your hubby's food is a long-haul-survival idea, and I can see how making accommodations for yourself will help you stick with it!
P.S. I just had to say--that quote is originally from the Bible, and Abe Lincoln was kind enough to give a memorable speech based on it. =)

Rev. Corbie said...

It's going to be an interesting train ride.

In our very tiny house, there are no rooms to go to when he's eating ice cream and I can't. (I have no intention of locking myself in the bathroom until he goes to bed to avoid his grazing.) There aren't enough shelves to have "his" and "mine" at different eye levels. And because he WILL NOT eat the way I do and cannot cook worth a damn, there will always be two meals cooked in our house every day.

I love him unreservedly -- and I also love me the same way. I will have to find a way to make those two work together. Not sure how it will happen, but if I wait for perfect I'll continue with bad health, bad weight, and low self-image-esteem. And getting rid of those three monsters is worth everything.