Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
18 Nov

When Grok Lives with Korg, or How to Cope With an Unsupportive Partner

tug of warWhen I introduced a forum thread asking folks to share their top three challenges in going Primal, one issue got major traction: the S.O. factor (significant other, for those of you not into the whole online brevity thing). It’s a familiar story. One partner takes on a new health commitment. Life changes for that person. He/she goes through struggles, triumphs, growth – an entire physical and psychological process that potentially leaves a relationship chasm in its wake. Then there are the logistics, a menacing obstacle course of loaded questions and irksome details. Do you still eat together? Who cooks (not to mention shops)? Do we have enough pots and pans to make two different meals each night? How do we handle the kids’ food? Finally, what does it mean for the arrangement when one person’s food expenditure overshadows the other’s?

I’m not talking, of course, about couples who follow individual but similar lifestyle paths. Few people have a fully Primal S.O., and most people don’t exactly consider that a deal breaker to begin with. As many of you noted in the forum, it’s good to honor individuality in relationships. It certainly keeps things interesting. My wife, for example, eats fish but not fowl or red meat. While I’d prefer she join me in devouring a rack of lamb now and then, I understand and even empathize with her reasoning. I also recognize that she’s one of the healthiest people I know. She merges the Primal philosophy with her own chosen values, and the result is pretty impressive. Because her diet obliges certain restrictions, she’s more diligent than I am, I’ll admit.

What I mean here is a true Grok/Korg match. One partner is living (or approaching) Primal, while the other is fully entrenched in CW – or maybe worse. Some couples comfortably and successfully adopt a “live and let live” mentality with ne’er an argument to ruffle their domestic bliss. Others struggle at times, harboring low-grade resentments or continuing disappointment that their partners – however supportive – don’t take up the cause. For a few, the contrast ignites epic conflict akin to a veritable clash of civilizations.

In the forum, there was back and forth about the social and emotional significance we attach to food. It’s not a religion, many said. It shouldn’t derail an otherwise good relationship. Others countered that it was indeed a creed of sorts. As a significant dimension of one’s lifestyle, our food choices inevitably become imbued with our individual values – and even with our identities to a certain degree.

With this deeper facet – and the day-to-day logistics – in mind, here are a few targeted suggestions for both staying true to your Primal quest and keeping peace in the shared kingdom.

Be Comfortable With Your Choice

No, really. Don’t shoot the messenger here, but sometimes others’ divergent choices get under our skin because they’re a constant reminder of our own ability to fall off the wagon. There’s a certain vulnerability to living against the current of a society, let alone one’s own household. It takes a greater commitment – not a white-knuckle, hold-your-breath, dig-in-your-heels declaration, but a deeply personal kind of pledge. It’s a decision to live in the moment and make the best choice for yourself in that moment. No one can undo or undermine your commitment without your permission. It’s accepting the ultimate responsibility. Going Primal may not always be convenient or easy. Likewise, relationships are always convenient and easy either.

Dial In Your Expectations

Don’t start your journey with the grandiose (albeit ideal in my opinion) vision of a happy Primal family. As my mother used to say to us growing up, “You worry about you.” It’s your choice, your path. Would you travel down it knowing you weren’t going to be accompanied by your partner or other loved ones? Well, there you go. Be an example to your partner, but enjoy and own Primal living in its own right – not as a constant representation of the cause, so to speak.

To Each, A Pantry of One’s Own

It’s a similar sentiment to the old adage, “good fences make good neighbors.” A little space can sometimes be enough to keep you from feeling inundated by the alternative choices residing in your household. Claim a space for your stuff and make no apologies. As for shopping and spending, be prepared to sit down and have a practical negotiation with concrete, unimpassioned terms.

Gather the Support You Need

Your S.O. can’t provide for every need or play every role in your life. We all know this, but making/going through a significant transition in life sometimes clouds our judgment. You deserve respect, of course, but fill in the support you need with friends, other family members, online communities (wink), etc. Take the pressure off your relationship, and you’ll likely both feel freer and happier. It’s a funny thing: when you finally let an issue go, that’s when people can surprise you the most.

Research suggests that couples treat divergent dietary paths in much the same way as other conflicts or differences in their relationships. (I guess there’s cause for a potentially heartening – or unsettling – realization there.) It’s a question worth exploring. I obviously believe that going Primal is a good choice, but if your S.O.’s lack of conversion is nagging at you so dramatically that it’s undermining the fundamentals of your relationship, it might be time to examine the issue from a broader, deeper, or more emotional angle. (a.k.a. It’s never really about the toothpaste cap.)

That said, I think it’s fair to feel disappointed, even saddened, by a partner’s disinterest in maintaining his/her health. If you’re taking it upon yourself to stay in good shape and put life in your years (not to mention years in your life), you might wonder why the other person won’t hold up his/her end of the bargain. What exactly, then, is the understanding behind a relationship? I’m going to venture that it isn’t about being in lock-step at every turn, in every moment. Nonetheless, I think it is about explaining why you care. (Then there’s always the jaw-dropping, stunning example you set….) If you’re in it for the long haul, there’s time to grow together – or to realize that some commonalities just aren’t compulsory for lasting devotion and domestic harmony.

Readers, what say you? Are Groks and Korgs compatible? Have you found a way to peacefully coexist in the kitchen, or has going Primal changed the game with relationships for you? Is it ever a deal breaker? Share your thoughts, and thanks for reading today.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’m a low-carber, and my spouse is just now getting used to the idea that he can live without a third of his plate being pasta or rice or potatoes. I still make carb sides for him, but I make less and generally de-carb them when possible, so he is gradually eating more meat and veg and less carb. At first, he marveled how I could get enough to eat without eating rice or pasta, but now he gets it – after years of seeing me ladle homemade spaghetti sauce over sauteed veggies, eat beef vegetable soup ‘naked’ while putting a little potato or rice in the bottom of his soup bowl (he says he gets “layered” soups now). He actually eats far less carby food now then he ever did – and I know his lipids have improved because of it. Mine sure have!

    Mary wrote on November 18th, 2010
  2. I’ve noticed that people around me are converting little by little. Everyone agrees that they feel better when they eat paleo.

    Jeff wrote on November 18th, 2010
  3. The issue in my house is she does all of the shopping and most of the cooking.And I do not want to seem ungrateful at meal times. That said she does go out of her way to accommodate me most of the time and I don’t refuse to eat whats on the table when she can’t. Of course it would be easier if I could sell the primal thing, but for now a little compromise is required.

    Lance wrote on November 18th, 2010
  4. My boyfriend is usually pretty good about supporting my unconventional eating habits. For instance, we were going to get lunch and he suggested a soup/sandwich joint he really liked. I knew there probably wouldn’t be anything there I could eat, and after a little argument we decided on Brazilian BBQ instead. Delicious. :)

    I only see him on weekends, but it seems like he fluctuates a lot with his diet, going from healthy stuff like home-made fish and veggie stews, salads, chicken, eggs and veggies to crap like bagels and diet coke (total caffeine junkie). He jokes about the “caveman” thing a lot too. I end up bringing my own food to his place so I can stay on the diet; I’ve been doing this for several months, but recently it seems like he is kind of offended that I don’t eat his food.

    I just wish he’d give primal eating a shot because it would make things less complicated, and because he has these weird skin rashes that going primal would probably improve…fortunately he’s healthy otherwise. It’s tough to convince him of the benefits of this way of eating because he’s healthy and I’m the one with multiple health issues that haven’t improved yet after months on the diet.

    I also feel guilty sometimes that I can’t just go out and get a sandwich with him and when I have to ask for special stuff at restaurants.

    Pixy wrote on November 18th, 2010
    • Remember, you could have a “naked” sandwich at his favorite place–meat w/ tomatoes, lettuce, onions and side salad–and skip the bread. Think of ways you can negotiate this part of your social contract.

      Barb wrote on November 19th, 2010
      • That is what I do.
        Everybody orders a sandwich/burger with buns…so do I, except when I’m done eating the buns will be left behind on my plate.

        Arty wrote on September 13th, 2011
    • I have no issues when I order something breadless or substitute extra vegetables for fries. Restaurants are used to it now. I also have been known to eat the top off pizza with a fork, but I’m a little shy about that.

      Carol wrote on November 19th, 2010
  5. My husband loves the meat (esp bacon), but that’s where the similarities stop. I buy the groceries and they are all primal. He goes to the store for cookies when he wants and I can’t/don’t/won’t stop him — he is however about 60-70 lbs overweight and I am in great shape. He tells me all the time “I have never seen anyone eat as much as you and never gain weight.” Hello – I am eating veggies, meat, eggs, berries, etc etc, not cookies, donuts, cakes, and pies. But, we co-exist just fine. He thinks I am nuts but loves me anyway, and I wish he’d be in better shape for his health’s sake (he is on lots of prescrips), but if he’s happy then I’m not going to mess with his way of living. So, it works for us.

    Dawn wrote on November 18th, 2010
    • Wow, that’s my story in a nutshell! We used to be binge buddies; now he buys his own junk food and stores it (mostly) out of my sight. I cook for myself and add a starch for him. He loves that I’m healthier, but he’s hung up on sugar and flour. Meanwhile, he’s got all these ailments that would probably respond to primal eating. I don’t resort to arm-twisting and he’s not interested in changing, so we agree to disagree on food. Peacefully.

      Carol wrote on November 19th, 2010
  6. Been lurking for a while, but I’m coming out of the shadow to give Mark props for an incredibly thought provoking and well-written thread. Definitely struck a chord with me. We have to focus on our own health and happiness and if our S.O.’s follow our example, wonderful. Too often, our arguments about food are about our own fear of failure, or a desire to “fix” the other person. And if we’ve lived a little, we know that never works!!

    Ricardo wrote on November 18th, 2010
  7. I guess I have it pretty good. I can’t imagine dating a CW. My GF and I have managed to agree on almost everything when it comes to diet, and it’s gone through some drastic changes. She’s been a real gift. When we met we were both vegan eating a SAD (terrible amounts of fabricated vegan pretend food). Then she went to nutritional/culinary school at The Natural Gourmet Institute in NY and we started adjusting our diets almost completely in unison. I remember the first thing we stopped buying – soy milk. A big step for a vegan. Then margarine. All soy foods. Boxed cereal. White rice. Juice. Refined sugar including agave. Then we became raw vegan together. Then she and I (vegan for 13 years and 6 years respectively) did the unthinkable… we read The Vegetarian Myth & Nourishing Traditions and began eating pastured everything… raw milk, raw eggs, butter, scrambled eggs, fish, steak, chicken, and of course we kept up with our huge veggie intake since we were fresh off the raw vegan thing. I guess it’s pretty remarkable looking back at on it now. There were some tears and fighting when we transitioned from raw vegan to full on animal consumption, but other than that we see eye to eye.

    Rob wrote on November 18th, 2010
  8. I have a wonderful husband who has put up with many of my latest fads as long as they don’t interfere with him. However, I was getting concerned about his slow weight gain and decided (without asking the poor man)to send him with primal salads to work. He admits that he was extremely unenthusiastic but was impressed that he didn’t feel hungry until the afternoon. 3 months later he is at his ideal weight and loving his lunches!

    alleycat wrote on November 18th, 2010
  9. I guess i’m lucky in a way…I’ve only been eating this way for about 6 weeks but i’ve lost 7lbs(which is a triumph when you have thyroid issues) I do all of the grocery shopping at my house and so my daughter and I eat Primal. My husband isn’t home during meals until his 2 days off, and since he eats alot of crap during the week he acctualy requests lots of veggies, and real meat. I do try to pack him a lunch when we have left-overs which he appreciates. He also tries the “different” things i make. He may not like them, but atleast he gives it a try. I thought my parents would be the hardest to deal with (my mom loves to bake and my dad has to have bread with his meals) but they’ve been supportive and when i come to dinner they always ask what i can have or what resaurants i can eat at. Comunication has been a big key for us. We’ll see what happens when DH isn’t working so much, in the mean time, all is good…

    lisa wrote on November 18th, 2010
  10. Oh, how I have ranted about this before! Well, here it goes again…

    I am a healthy 115 lbs of active woman who has “fixed” a lifetime of SEVERE eczema,allergies, sinus infections,Gall Bladder issues, etc.. by going paleo/primal.(the most I ever weighed non prego was about 130)
    I am married (barely) to a 300 lb man who is a total sugar/carb addict. zero exercise.
    He has vascular problems in his legs, but is otherwise healthy (?). His family is all overweight diabetics with heart disease. He suffers from frequent sinus infections. He is currently very depressed, which I believe has been a big part of our current seperation.
    We share two healthy, beautiful children.
    He tried to drop carbs a long time ago, and lost lbs..but couldn’t stick with it. A life without pizza, pasta, etc? Not worth living..
    We are both professional cooks, lifetime restaurant people. Cooking is never an issue. Because we do not work typical hours, he watches the chldren when I work, and vice versa. 3 days a week they eat healthy with me. Then it is a free for all of junk with Grandma and Daddy..OY

    My point is that after 13 yrs of marriage, he has seen first hand what this way of eating has done for me. Why wouldn’t you want those results for yourself? And to possibly prevent history from repeating itself with our children? (no allergies, but one has a “thicker” build)***AND iT IS SO FREAKING EASY ONCE YOU BREAK YOUR ADDICTION TO SUGAR!***

    I can not make sense of it now, and possibly never will..
    P.S. we are of Portuguese descent and were raised on double starches..i.e. fried potatoes AND rice. AT. EVERY. MEAL.

    Sorry for the rant again but, hey, Mark, you brought it up! LOL Thanks!

    Julie Aguiar wrote on November 18th, 2010
  11. My husband enjoys the primal foods I serve. He thoroughly enjoys the grass fed beef and pastured eggs we buy, but he still buys a loaf of bread, and goes through giant jars of peanut butter (and not to make sandwiches, he eats spoonfuls of it with swiss milk chocolate bars). He also drinks sodas a few times a week.

    It bothers me sometimes and I usually end up making a snide comment (of course it’s immediately ignored or passed off with a joke). He’s also one of those lucky people that has a high metabolism, so he never gains an ounce. For the most part, though, as long as he eats all the primal meals I cook, he’s basically an 80/20, which makes me happy.

    Primal K@ wrote on November 18th, 2010
    • Unfortunately, I am with your husband on the PB and chocolate it is GOOD!! It happens to be my biggest obstical at the moment. I have moved to all natural PB (NO oil added) and dark chocolate chips instead of candy bars and M&M’s. Now just need to stop eating it completely and save some money for other food.

      Casey wrote on November 18th, 2010
      • Try switching to almond butter and apples!! Should hit the spot!

        Its keeps me clean.. but I do eat less now, just on workout days. :) Trying it to treat it like the treat it is.

        AVLpumpkin wrote on November 20th, 2010
  12. I just find it amazing how much push back I receive for not wanting starches with dinner. It goes to show just how socialized we are to eat these relatively empty calories.

    Nathan wrote on November 18th, 2010
  13. Oh, DH will gladly gobble up whatever I put in front of him, and enjoy it, but he is never really “satisfied” on some level without the starches…I don’t know what to make of it really…

    Julie Aguiar wrote on November 18th, 2010
    • My husband is addicted to sweets.
      Every meal, every day needs to have some form of sugar to raise his insulin.
      For lunch he’d eat half a melon.For breakfast it’s pasteurized yogurt with extra cane sugar and frozen berries. For dinner it’s breaded Schnitzels (least it’s grass-fed meat). He hates eggs and bacon. He loves sweet bread.
      For snacks he’d consume 3-4 oranges a day, if they’re out of season he’ll consume any other fruit highly sweet.
      All day long he raises his insulin with everything he eats and then complains when he isn’t losing weight and has low HDL and high triglycerides.

      Issabeau wrote on September 13th, 2011
  14. Have been working out and eating “healthy” for alittle over 2 years. Started on P90 & then P90X. Followed their eating guide and was introduced to Primal Living by my P90X coach. During the eating change the wife was totally against it. I took over 90% of the cooking responsibilities so that the kids got a “healthy” meal at least once a day. Since going/attempting primal (6 months) living nothing has changed. She is still totally against it and continues to fix the kids pizza, cereal, oatmeal, bread sandwiches, and pasta for every meal she cooks. When I’m home they get meat and veggies and occasionally some fruit. I lost 35 lbs and have kept it off for 2 years now. She has lost none but has gained some. It is tough and frustrating. I do 95% of the grocery shopping in the house so I control pretty much what comes into the house. If she wants crap food she has to buy it since I refuse. I’m not popular on the “Poptart” kid front but they have survived nicely without them for the last 6 months.

    Casey wrote on November 18th, 2010
    • I started calling all my relatives fatty every time they were eating anything they shouldn’t. It’s hilarious to watch them get all ashamed and angry. Laughing helps. Then I offer them healthy choices and call them skinny when they eat it. It eventually worked wonders and they started doing it to each other too. Most of us have lost weight. Except fatty.

      Bobu wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  15. Here’s one for everyone…. In general, I can’t complain about my husband not supporting me. We’re very much “live and let live” but here’s where it gets a little weird. He doesn’t eat vegetables. At all. Ever. Period. And since I haven’t been able to overcome that in the 9 years we’ve been together, primal isn’t a choice for him because there wouldn’t be anything (besides meat) for him to eat. Thankfully, he doesn’t have a sweet tooth and he’s never really been into junk food (chips and crackers and stuff) so at least we don’t have that kind of stuff laying around the house.

    I would like to nag him based on his health but sadly, I can’t. Our doctor is fine with all of his blood work and he’s one of the leanest people I know.

    So…. Since I do 90% of the shopping and 100% of the cooking, I try to buy grains and starches that I’m indifferent to so that cooking them for him doesn’t make me nuts. Generally, dinner is some kind of meat (because we can both agree on that), a starchy side for him and a bunch of vegetables for me. It doesn’t take me any more time to cook dinner this way than it ever did before and we’re both happy with the results.

    Mel wrote on November 19th, 2010
    • I have a similar situation with my S.O. He won’t eat veggies or fruit either. His fruit comes in juice form mostly orange and apple. I have to say he’s quite the sugar addict though; lots of Pepsi, donuts, breads (gotta have his PB and Jelly or ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch), potatoes, ice cream, a whole box of Kraft Mac&Cheese (I’d need to go to the hospital if I ate that much!), etc. He’s by no means fat but with his diet, he may as well be. Tansitioning to a healthier lifestyle has not been easy for me, and add in the sugary foods he buys for himself, the temptations are hard to resist. My own faults involve comforting and convenient fast foods and potatoes are a big weakness so finding adequate substitutes is important.

      We’re about 50/50 on the grocery shopping. When I’m on track, I look for more organic whole foods. I’m not a major cook, but when I do cook I find I enjoy the act of preparing food and eating it is more enjoyable and wholesome too. You’d think that would be enough for me to keep on track, but I lose it more often than not. We generally share a meat course, and split on the sides (when I’m on track). On nights when I feel like cooking up some salmon, he usually has Campbell’s soup or Mac&Cheese, or a bowl of cereal, pumpkin pie, or some other sweet.

      Reading the blogs from Mark and the forums here are a real help for me! I know what I need to do, and I preach it often with co-workers, and friends, but my actions speak louder. Time to change that, especially after reading Mark’s Get Real post. That was a real motivator and wake-up call this morning especially after splurging last night on a Chicago favorite. On my Journey to a more primal natural lifestyle, I hope to set an example for him (and myself).

      Dana wrote on November 24th, 2010
    • beef broth, bone marrow, radishes, green cucumber, yellow cucumber, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, coconut milk, butter, pig fat, pork/bacon, beef steak, catnip, raddish greens, roman lettuce, tomatoes, cherries, cilantro, chicken eggs, duck eggs, turkey eggs, elk meat, duck meat, sardines, mackarel, salmon, rainbow trout, golden trout, bass, beef liver, elk liver, onion, onion greens, white beets, red beet juice, rabbit meat and organs, chicken and chicken livers, kiwis, mangos, RAW goat or cow milk, raw cheese, full fat ice cream from grassfed cows, (white rice), seaweed, raw honey, dried dates, roasted almond butter with apples, clams, oysters, lamb meat and organs, halibut, shrimp, garlic, catfish, boysenberry, beef heart, cantalope, watermelon, lemon, octopus, peaches, plums, grapes, mandarines, buttersquash, heirloom,…

      more Plant stuff:
      brussel sprout, asparagus, cauliflour, mustard greens, leeks, chard, kale, all kinds of lettuce, parsley, rose hip, nettle,…

      flavors:
      sea salt, rock salt, vinegar, butter, lard, coconut oil, black pepper, herbs, broths,…

      nut flour for baking

      most pizza places now also make pizzas out of potato flour for people with celiacs (just ask for it).

      Arty wrote on September 13th, 2011
  16. My Grok/Korg story has a happy ending. I started transitioning to a Primal lifestyle about a year and a half ago. I lost 10 pounds, added weight lifting to my work outs, and my constant stomach aches slowly went away. But my husband was still following CW. He said “but I need carbs to fuel my workouts!” So he and I ate separate breakfasts and lunches (me eggs and salads, him cereals and sandwiches) and either I planned dinners that would work for both of us, or that was a 20% meal for me.

    Then this past summer we moved and hubby had more time on his hands. He finally sat down and read The Primal Blueprint. Even then he was a skeptic, but he changed his diet and now has impressively lost almost 20 pounds and says he feels better and has more energy than before! I am definitely proud.

    For a year I just shook my head at him but now we are a Grok/Grok household!

    Allison wrote on November 19th, 2010
    • Congrats Allison on wearing him down. :-) It seems like the soft approach works best for most people, and when they are ready to hear the lesson, they hear it!

      I was just given a stack of Food network Magazines and as I was flipping through, several photos of meat and veggies (and nothing else) on a plate jumped out at me. Yes, there’s still far more junk, but I think there is hope for the masses!

      Patty wrote on November 19th, 2010
  17. I don’t live together with my partner, but when we do get together, I always offer to cook and she loves it. I’ll tease her if she eats grain or sugar, and she admits that she feels better after eating the food I cook. She finds the things I say interesting and tends to agree with me, and I’m sure by the time we move in together that we’ll both be primal. It’s just a life-style change, really, which is the most challenging part of all.

    Brian Kozmo wrote on November 19th, 2010
  18. This is a great discussion! My marriage has been a training ground for conflict resolution for the 12 years we’ve been together. Power and control issues rear their ugly heads frequently and we have found our common ground with CrossFit, martial arts, and Primal/Paleo eating. When I get driven and rigid, he still starts dragging and sabotaging, yet the benefits of CrossFit and Primal eating are pretty convincing. I can be a know it all and very condescending when I emerge from checking out all the research, he hates that about me, even though I am usually right. Great food, better budgeting and better mental and physical health have motivated us to figure out how to not push each others buttons so we can share this part of our lives. LOL

    T.H. wrote on November 19th, 2010
  19. Truthfully, my husband has been happier about our meals since I went Primal. I do 90% of the grocery shopping and cooking. He’ll occasionally cook up some rice to accompany a dish (usually curries or something else soupy) and frequently packs a sandwich if we don’t have enough Primal leftovers for a full lunch, but all of that is his choice and doesn’t interfere with my cooking.

    We don’t have kids yet, but I look forward to having them on a healthy Primal diet from the start. No rice cereal for my babies!

    Christine M. wrote on November 19th, 2010
  20. I started Primal on Monday 11/15 after being physically assaulted by a stranger on a deserted public walkway. The man hit me in the leg for no reason and there I was, 61 years old, fat and vulnerable, unable to do anything. I went home to my partner and said, “I’m going to change this; I never want to feel this helpless again.” Though she is a CW eater, she has been very supportive. We talked about my need to keep sweets out of the house for now; she asks how my “regimen” is working for me and has said she has no problem cooking for herself when our menus conflict. This program is not something she wants for herself but I am hopeful that she’ll see the results and decide to grok on with me.

    Best to all of you today!

    BW wrote on November 19th, 2010
    • Wow, I am so sorry that happened to you! That is great you are turning a bad experience into something positive; best of luck! :)

      Julia wrote on November 22nd, 2010
    • so maybe this stranger was an angel in disguise that got you to change your way of life? ;) Positive side to everything…

      Brian Kozmo wrote on January 19th, 2011
  21. I’m feeling lucky reading some of this thread. My husband supported me through years of vegetarianism but I think he was grateful when I gave it up! During that time, he would just go eat meat (unfortunately usually McD’s) when I wasn’t around. Now we both Crossfit together in the garage, and he loves the primal approach to cooking and nutrition. Our only real sticking point is budget. It’s hard to feed a family on real food. A dinner of pasta or some kind of rice-n-beans type dish is Soooooo much cheaper.

    Robin wrote on November 19th, 2010
    • If no one is against such an endeavor, you could try adding hunting or fishing for your own meats or growing your own fresh veggies to reduce costs. a couple hundred pounds of elk or venison can really stretch a budget.

      Bobu wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  22. I am lucky that my hubby, like Robin’s supported me as a vegetarian,even became one to keep me company! He was, also relieved, in the extreme, when I gave up.

    However, I’ve realised, that it isn’t just the type of food that’s the problem, in a relationship, but the amount.

    Hubby snacks all day and always wants a ‘little something’ with a tea or coffee.

    I was finding it hard to keep my weight down, even eating primal/low carb. Then I thought, enough. ‘Kelly’ just cannot eat as much as ‘Ken’. Period.

    So I stopped trying to keep up, and being lured into eating when I didn’t want to, or eating just to keep him company. Problem solved. Healthy and happy weight maintained.

    But, to be fair, I can’t always resist when he says “come on, just have a bite, help me out here”…

    nor do I always want to!

    Janet Butler Male wrote on November 19th, 2010
  23. I’ve been a lurker for a while and this thread inspired me to comment. I am coming at this from the opposite angle – my husband is Primal/Paleo and I am not!
    A little background… We have been together for 10 years; my exercise used to be limited to swimming, pilates and walking, he’s always been into working out and lifting. I have been pretty much the same (low, but not unhealthily so) weight my entire adult life, he has fluctuated a bit (probably all that pasta I fed him, oops). I am a professional cook, I love food, and have always believed that health and weight management is more about diet and not so much about exercise. My interest in nutrition and diet led me to authors like Pollan, Nestle and Taubes. I shop at farmers’ markets, try to find local meat and eggs, eat virtually no processed food. I do just about all the food shopping, and all the dinner cooking.
    My husband got into the Primal/Paleo thing via Crossfit, and it has been really good for him. Way less joint pain, no recent gout flare-ups, weight loss, better digestion, doesn’t snore as much, it’s all good. I think he is fairly lactose intolerent so giving up dairy was perhaps the biggest help. Our dinners have not really changed much, I was always into the roast vegetables, salads, stir-fries, steaks, baked fish etc. There is just less variety; no hummus, satay sauce, chili, pasta, homemade pizza… of course I can have whatever I like on the side, or for breakfast and lunch. I love my legumes and cheese!
    So I would consider myself to be fairly supportive, unlike some of the SOs in this thread. I’m really happy that this diet/lifestyle is working out for him, but he could be a little more grateful that I cook that way for him! It does sometimes tick me off that my husband is now all over the food-as-medicine idea and is now a nutrition ‘expert’ after reading a couple of books. And some of his paleo choices I see as completely irrational. To be completely honest, there’s a part of me that has taken his rejection of certain foods personally – ‘what! I’ve been killing you with the potatoes all these years!’ This might be something you recent converts-to-Primal might want to bear in mind; cooking can be, should be, an act of love, and if someone has been providing you with hot dinners they might well feel miffed if you start ranting on at them about wheat-is-poison. As other commenters have noted, you have to take a gentle approach to changing peoples habits; they have to want it for themselves. Also they have to learn it for themselves – I’ve been telling him about the dangers of added sugars in processed foods for ages, but no, he had to read it in a book:-)
    As for me, an injury a couple of years ago led me to rehab, which led to regular gym-going to lift weights and knock out the pull-ups and push-ups. I love getting stronger and my husband likes it too! So we kind of met half-way on the fitness side as well as the nutrition/diet.
    Great website Mark, thanks for all the information!

    Iona K wrote on November 19th, 2010
    • You make some very good points here about tactfulness when approaching a loving SO who has also been cooking for you. Thanks for reminding us about the other view.

      BW wrote on November 19th, 2010
  24. This was a great post! When I first went Primal both my girl and I were vegetarian! I make most of the meals so most of the time we just continued eating vegetarian, and at other meals I would eat the meats I knew I needed. We never ate very much carbs so that was easy. The other day told me that she thinks it might be best for her to start eating meat again. I made a primal feast with salad packed with veggies, chicken sausage and whole chicken legs covered in bell peppers and onions. And BAM! She ate meat for the first time in 8 years. And she liked it.

    Thanks Mark, you have changed the health game for us! I feel better than I have in years.

    Remember ya’ll, you can compromise without compromising your Diet, if we can do it, anyone can!

    Nate T wrote on November 19th, 2010
  25. Just for the record… sometimes it really is just about the toothpaste cap. Seriously, how hard can it be to put the cap back on!!? have a good wknd ppl!

    Mlkrone wrote on November 19th, 2010
  26. My wife is constantly making antipathetic comments. However, she has compromised for the at most five meals a week she makes for me, by making the non-primal major ingredients separable, even if that means my pulling the crust off a quiche.

    House remains full of non-foods and people in poor health. Yet I’m the nutter. Its not a deal breaker but I sometimes fantasise about living in a house with nothing but real food

    peril wrote on November 19th, 2010
  27. Love the Big Lebowski reference, it tied the whole piece together.

    monkeyadded wrote on November 20th, 2010
    • Just like that rug. It really tied the room together.

      Alhaddadin wrote on November 22nd, 2010
  28. The problem I have is not with my wife(she loves eating the Primal meals I cook, except that she eats rice as she is Chinese, but this is OK) but with my mother and younger sister, who also live with us.

    They detest cooking, and when I do cook for them they just eat the meat, leave the vegetables and then fill themselves up with toasted pita bread with cheddar cheese inside. If I’m not around to cook for them they survive on a diet of fried eggs, pita bread and cheese. No fruit or veggies. And lots of coffee.

    My mother is in her mid-50s, is constantly tired, has muscle and tendon pains constantly, constipation, sleeps very little and never ever likes to walk or exercise.

    My sister is in college, gaining body fat steadily and rather than opening a can of tuna to make a salad when she is hungry, she opts for biscuits, tea, toast, margarine, etc. She never exercises at all and spends most of the time on Facebook and the phone.

    I have been trying to encourage them to eat proper food, and if they still want to eat grains, to make them a small part of their diet.

    I have shown them how my physical performance and physique have dramatically improved since I went Primal, yet they think it’s only because of all the exercise I do (weightlifting and gymnastics).

    I have kind of given up on them, but I am still very concerned about my mum, as she shows every sign of inflammatory diseases creeping up on her as she gets older.

    Gabriel wrote on November 21st, 2010
    • Have you tried spanking them? LoL, seriously I had to try a bunch of different things to encourage my family to swap to primal and they still fudge the lines when they can because they refuse to read anything… it’s frustrating. But I found negative re-enforcement worked well by simply calling them fatty every time I saw them eat something they shouldn’t and calling the skinny whenever they ate something good. Carrot and the stick motivate well.

      Bobu wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  29. A primal lifestyle may not be a religion, but sometimes it feels like a cult.

    Pat wrote on November 22nd, 2010
  30. I have 3 kids and a husband who love their breads, cereal, pizza, etc. My husband thinks that there is another set of people who think that this way of eating is not healthy since he thinks the food guide pyramid is there for our health! We’ve had our kids food tested and they all should be off wheat and dairy but my husband thinks that’s too hard and doesn’t want them to be made fun of at school or parties if they can’t eat what everyone else is eating. I counsel people in nutrition and try sharing the amazing stories about how going primal has helped cure so many people of any health issues that they have. He’s even called my parents to complain that I fell off the deep end and doesn’t understand or want to understand about any of this. It’s quite frustrating and I’m left with eating this way on my own and just limiting the foods the kids eat as best as I can since he’s not around for most meals.

    Cara wrote on November 23rd, 2010
  31. Not only do I eat primal, but I also only eat once a day, as I feel that Grok wouldn’t have had constant access to food. My wife is on a totally different WOE where she eats all of her carbs before noon. This works out great for me because when I come home from work, I cook meats and veggies and since she eats no carbs after noon, she basically eats primally for dinner. :) So even though we are on two completely different plans, the synchronicity they afford in the evenings makes life quite nice. :)

    Rick wrote on November 23rd, 2010
    • With all respect, in my experience, assuming anything about how Grok lived has been either proven false or shown to have been thought on false presumptions. Maybe Grok had many small things throughout the day, for example, or maybe it depended on the time of year.. but that aside, how does eating once a day work out for you? how long have you been doing that? Any interesting results?

      By the way, if your wife is eating vegetables in the evenings, she’d be defeating her plan of not eating carbs after noon, seeing as all vegetables have carbs in them – some more than others.

      Brian Kozmo wrote on November 24th, 2010
      • Been eating once a day for two years. I commute by bicycle to work 30 miles a day and maintain 7-8% bodyfat. My meal is generally 1000-1800 calories, depending on how I feel. I did say that I will cook meats and veggies, but I guess I left out that when she sits down to eat dinner she’ll eat the meat portion like ribs, fish, liver, eggs, bacon or whatever.

        I also don’t think that we can know what Grok ate because the prototypical Grok would have existed in many different time periods or areas on the planet with access to different foods. But really, have you ever hunted your own food? Can you imagine successfully hunting and killing something 4-6 times a day during the ice age before salt was used as a preservative or smokehouses were invented? I really think there may have been days when Grok and his family may not have eaten at all. But the body has an amazing array of endocrine processes built in to make us stronger, faster, more agile, and a bit more aware if we haven’t eaten. Imagine chasing down an animal but you miss it and you’re left exhausted and hungry. The body actually fortifies itself for the next burst of energy so that we have a better chance of success next time.

        Rick wrote on November 24th, 2010
  32. FYI, typo in: “Going Primal may not always be convenient or easy. Likewise, relationships are always convenient and easy either.”

    “aren’t”.

    Larry Clapp wrote on November 24th, 2010
  33. Mark, I think that this is the best article I’ve come across on your site. The writing is elegant, and it cleverly addresses the fact that even though my spouse and I might be married, we are still both individuals who must do what is right for us at any given point in time while still working in the structure of the relationship. Absolutely outstanding article.

    Chuck wrote on November 24th, 2010
  34. My wife is doing everything she can right now to sabotage my commitment to eating Primal. Complaining about the price of fruits and meats, telling me its “not healthy” scoffing at the weight loss Ive had, everything. Shes comparing it with some idiot at work on a cereal diet. Im really getting tired of this crap.

    Merrell wrote on September 21st, 2011
    • Resentment on her part. And any guy who eats 3 bowls of cereal only a day is going to lose weight- muscle mass! Then they’ll get sick… she really needs to do some reading before judging your efforts.

      Christina wrote on November 20th, 2011
  35. I wish there was a Primal Living dating website…. :/

    Christina wrote on November 20th, 2011
  36. I have recently gone about 90%. My husband on the other hand is a junk food, fast food junkie! I would love for him to change his ways but he is not convinced and believe I am “Being fed bad info.” because I used to do the whole low fat thing and now I eat bacon! However, even then he would eat half the stuff I eat. The main issue we have is when we eat out but we tend to take turns picking places and have a couple of places we just don’t go together. I am hoping that I will reach all my fitness and health goals and maintain this for a lifetime. Hopefully the LGN factor might convince him to make the change as well. My theory is that I cannot complain because we were both into those bad habits when we met, its not like he suddenly changed. I fell in love with his unhealthy ass and I still love him! :)

    Lauri wrote on November 21st, 2011
  37. My husband is a genetic freak. He is a CW MASTER, and somehow maintains awesome inside and outside health eating the way he eats. After 10+ years together, I have learned to accept it (along with his cookies, ice creams, pasta’s, sandwiches, rice, cereals, and anything else I know is not good for me). In the beginning, when it was just about a low carb diet for me, it was hard to not give in to things lying around the house. Not all the time, but occassionally I did give in. That was 6 years ago. back then, my husband did NOT discriminate in regards to the kind of Junk food he ate. You name it, he ate it. And still maintained his beautiful under 10% body fat body. He also did not work out, and maintained his muscles through various forms of physical labor on the job. At one point in his life, (long before we met), he was a SLAVE to CW dieting and fitness. His entire life revolved around body building and eating plenty of pasta to back it up, with days in excess of 5000 calories to maintain 185 lbs at 6ft tall. Now days, although he is not Primal to say the least, he mostly eats what I eat (minus most vegetables), and I usually just make him his side of pasta, beans, rice, or french fries, and the thought never crosses my mind to sample any of it. It’s a beautifully choreographed arrangement. I do the cooking, and he eats it. I don’t deprive him of what he likes, and he doesn’t pretend to agree with or understand what I believe. He has seen me take this approach to nutrition and use it to lose 95 pounds of fat off my body. He knows I know what I’m doing with myself – and from what he can see, he likes it ;) Since that beginning 6 years ago, he no longer eats at “chain” fast food places, only occassionally indulges in things like pizza, or grilled sandwiches. Still buys cookies and potato chips, and still eats his pasta. He makes his own breakfast (oatmeal or cereal)lunch (sandwich and chips) eats what I cook for dinner and has dessert from the junk list above. Of all the crap in the house, ice cream seems to be the only one that I sometimes wish I could have. Was never a huge ice cream lover, but sometimes you just want something ice cold and sweet. Fortunately, we like almost NONE of the same flavors ;) Anyways, as anyone can see, you can make it work. Instead of me sitting around jealous that he can do what he does and look so great, or trying to force what I do on him just to make it easier on myself, I OWN my situation. I OWN my results. I spend a couple extra minutes and dirty another pot to make something extra for him, I use extreme caution when I suggest little changes (thinking of how I would feel if someone were trying to get me to change things), I don’t wallow in self pity over not eating the JUNK food in the house, I remind myself that when he tells me to just eat a freaking cookie, that he really is the exception here, and the difference between him eating it and me eating it is crazy, he is supportive of my 4:30 alarm to workout, and although he doesn’t get why we keep lard in the house or use a lot of chopped bacon to cook with, his tummy is happy, my butt is smaller and our home is harmonious. I don’t need him to be primal. One day he may just give up grains. Not likely, but if it happens, we will find a way to make it work :)

    lisa wrote on November 21st, 2011
  38. My husband is a vegetarian. We only eat dinner together. The only overlap in our diets is veggies. I often like to put meat in my veggie dishes or cook with tallow, so that often takes away the overlap. I used to cook for him, and I once hired someone to cook for him. Now, I just leave him to his own devices. We have separate food cabinets, and we share our fridge.

    It’s been hard for me to relinquish responsibility for his dinners, but I have. I make my own food and he’s on his own for his. When we go out, I often cheat if the menu is “difficult.”

    Carolyn wrote on March 1st, 2013
  39. Hi
    I’ve made the change to primal because I have Crohn’s disease (in remission right now and I want it to stay that way!)
    My partner is a junk food addict! But, I stay strong make good, family meals (with a side of potatoes or rice if they really must) and it seems to be working, but I need willpower to avoid the bad food traps that live in my kitchen! But, we all have to live together and my kids love chocolate and crisps, hard as I try to persuade them that the nice carrot or apple is a better snack!

    My point is, that for me, I can say “I can’t eat that chocolate bar, bag of chips, potato (etc) because it makes my belly poorly” and I do get more support because of the weird diets I have had to go on for health reasons, because this is new, but dietary change is not.

    Now, how to I convert them all……….?

    Hen wrote on May 20th, 2013
    • Does Crohn’s have any genetic factors? If so fear can be your ally. Scare your children with tails of debilitating pain and the nightmare scenarios of the disease. Then laud the primal way of avoiding the problem. When they insist they don’t have the issue, just look really sadly and say “Not yet.”

      BTW
      Scientists believe that Crohn’s disease is caused by a combination of these factors:
      Immune system problems – unnatural foods cause what?
      Genetics – they share these with you…
      Environmental factors – they live in the same place….

      Bobu wrote on January 23rd, 2014
  40. I cook for our multi-cultural family, and my Latin American partner and his side of the family cannot live without white rice and fried plantains at every meal. But they also eat lots of meat and vegetables. My husband doesn’t care what I do or don’t eat as long as I am happy & healthy, so I prepare all the different kinds of food and we each eat what we want- nobody tries to control what anybody else eats! There will be questions, but if your partner loves and respects you then they will be supportive of you even if they don’t agree with the diet or they themselves don’t want to follow it- one day I just stopped putting rice on my plate and quit eating breakfast (always fried plantains) and simply explained to my husband that this was the way I was going to be eating from now on.

    It would be easier to go Primal if he were on board with me, but every choice I make is mine and only mine… and it is even more empowering to know that I can do it all on my own, even with a non-Primal partner. Good luck everybody!

    Casey wrote on January 2nd, 2014

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