Couple qui cuisine ensemble

Eating habits as a couple

06 March 2023
"Humans attach a lot of emotions and a significant part of their identity to food," said Abby Langer, an expert in nutrition and diet.

Your eating habits are a part of your identity. When you are in a relationship, your partner's eating habits inevitably become a part of your life, especially when you live together. When your habits diverge from your partner's, some frictions can arise.

While you might think that your relationship is doomed because you can't agree on what to have for dinner, experts insist that there are ways to find solutions and be happy together, even if you don't follow the same dietary regimen. However, there are several tips to ensure that meals remain a moment of sharing rather than conflicts.

Eat to Your Satisfaction

Consume portions that are appropriate for your appetite. Numerous studies show that heterosexual women tend to adopt portions similar to those of their partner and do not respect their satiety. In fact, women, when entering a relationship, tend to gain weight, mainly because they eat more like their male partner. The best solution is simply to acknowledge that you need fewer calories and adjust your portions accordingly.

Avoid Forcing Changes

Being supportive is one thing, but changing your dietary regimen to match your partner's is another. Don't feel obligated to change your diet for someone else. Helping to prepare a low-carb lunch for your partner who is on a keto diet does not mean that you should feel pressured to eat keto as well. You can try to compromise to support your partner in their dietary decisions, but you don't have to completely change yours in the process.

Find Common Food Interests

Go grocery shopping together and ask your partner for their input on what they would like to eat during the week. Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to eat the same food. You can still bond over food by satisfying both of your cravings. While you don't have to eat two completely different meals, you can diversify certain ingredients in the meals to suit your preferences better. For example, if your partner wants pizza for dinner, you can take one slice and accompany it with roasted vegetables or salad to satisfy your preferences. Even if you don't eat the same way, you can still find ways to appreciate food and connect over it.

Cook Together Occasionally

"Cooking is a very underestimated way of getting closer to someone you're dating," says Ms. Brown, a professional dietitian at Foodtrainers. If you can, find recipes that will satisfy both of your restrictions. It's a really fun way to bond beyond restaurant outings. Cooking together is the romantic part! Try to find ways to prepare meals together. If your partner is open to the idea, choose a day of the week when both of you can cook something you love together.

Whether it's searching for recipes together, picking out ingredients at the grocery store, or playing in the kitchen with flavors and seasonings, cooking together is a bonding experience that goes beyond just the end result of the food—it's about the entire process of making it.

If cooking together is not possible for some reason, you can take turns preparing meals. This way, you are guaranteed to have a meal you enjoy at least half of the week, and the other half, you can try something new with your partner!

Check out our recipe section for some ideas!

Show Your Support

You may have been together for years and still can't get a handle on their eating habits. That doesn't mean you can't support them in the life choices they've made for themselves. "There are so many ways to support them without adopting the diet yourself," explains Ms. Langer.

You should also be open to trying new things when dating someone new. That's how you get to know a person and their food preferences. Even with a long-term partner, if they have suddenly changed their diet, keep an open mind about what they're doing and why. Your relationship will likely be strengthened as a result.

Furthermore, a study conducted by the International Association for Relationship Research found that mixed-weight couples reported a higher number of conflicts, both generally and on a daily basis, compared to couples of equal weight. However, general conflict was reduced by perceived partner support. These results suggest that mixed-weight couples may experience more conflicts than equal-weight couples, but perceived partner support can mitigate this conflict.

Avoid Judging

Similarly, it is essential not to judge your partner for their food choices. Autonomy within a relationship is important, and this also applies to food autonomy. If your partner is not interested in a dietary change, you should respect that. Pressuring your partner or shaming them into adopting a healthy diet, for example, is not a positive long-term approach. You love this person for who they are, not for what they eat!

Leverage the Community

If your partner is not interested or ready to make changes, think about all the other people in your life who are. Consider your coworkers, family, friends, or people in your neighborhood with whom you can cook. You can share the goals you've set with your conversation partner and discuss the concrete steps you're taking to achieve them. It will be much more encouraging if you have someone by your side who has a similar level of motivation! This way, you can share your experiences, accomplishments, and the challenges you face!

In the end, there are several solutions that can help you find common ground when you have different eating habits. The key is to communicate well and find solutions that work for your relationship.

Sit down together and openly and honestly discuss your needs to avoid any issues during mealtime!

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Source used for writing this article:

Burke, T et al. (2012). "You're going to eat that?" Relationship processes and conflict among mixed-weight couples. International Association for Relationship Research.

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