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Can You Help This Woman?
Yesterday on Wifey Wednesday we talked about food--what to do when your husband wasn't very adventurous in the menu department, and wasn't willing to try food that you liked--or food that was healthy.

One woman left this comment:

let me just say that all of you with husbands who try things are lucky! my husband REFUSES to try anything that he thinks he won't like. the only "vegetables" that he will eat are corn & potatoes. he says that he "tolerates" green beans, but in 7 1/2 years together I have never once seen him "tolerate" one. he will not eat things that are mixed together (i.e. casseroles, soups other than tomato), does not like noodles or rice, and will not try any new "ethnic" dishes. (i have gotten him to try chinese...but only sweet & sour & general tsos noodles, no rice). I, on the other hand, am quite a foodie and love trying new things. I adore sushi, mexican food--i will try anything once and usually like it. i basically have to make separate things for us each to eat at night. we have no kids yet but I'm already stressed about that issue. he just refuses to budge. occasionally I will try to get him to eat something that he likes with something that he may not like added to it, but he will very rarely do it (I got him to try a spoonful of french onion soup once...but he only had the broth w/the bread and cheese). i feel like i am dealing with a child sometimes, and what i don't get is, his mother will say stuff about not knowing why he is like that and I just want to scream "Because you didn't make him try new things!!!!" it's so frustrating.

I'm at a loss as to how to help her without just repeating some of the things I said yesterday. So let me take the collective wisdom of the mom-blogosphere. What do you think? Any advice? Any caution? Any thoughts? Leave a comment!

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At 9:43 AM , Blogger Holly said…

Some people are very sensitive. Sensitive to flavors and even textures. (As is our son.) As a result he is pretty selective on the things he likes and doesn't like. I know that my Grampa was like that too.
Personally, my husband hates almost any veggies. Doesn't bug me!


At 9:54 AM , Blogger Tara said…

My girlfriend has a husband similar to that. Not as extreme, but similar.

Do it like you'd do a child. Keep offering. Do not make a separate meal for him. I can say that, but my friend's husband will go to McD's if he doesn't get what he wants, so that wrecks their budget!

I guess the only advice I have is to pray about it and keep offering new foods. Maybe they can talk to a dietitian about his diet. If his only "veggies" are corn and potatoes he isn't getting a well rounded diet. Perhaps a professional would be able to help them come up with a plan where he tries one or two new foods every week.

She is right to be concerned about their future children being affected by his diet. My friend's son started out open to new foods, but once he realized that Daddy wouldn't eat them (or that Daddy threw a grown up fit, oh yes, he did) he followed right along in his father's footsteps.


At 10:21 AM , Blogger Cassie said…

I would refuse to cook two meals. My son is now 2 1/2 and I have stopped cooking separate meals for him. I require that he eat at least 3 bites of something -- which after the first he usually ends up liking it. I have had to put him in time out on a few occassions when he starts throwing a fit about eating something. But I don't think you can put your hubby in time out! LOL!!

Perhaps going to a therapist will help him figure out why he won't eat them. If he's just being stubborn,, make a deal with him that he'll try a small portion.


At 12:13 PM , Blogger Shaun and Holly said…

ok. there is a line that you don't want to cross here. We shouldn't be treating our spouces the same way we treat our children. We can love them and encourage them but not try to control them.


At 1:09 PM , Blogger Amy said…

This comment has been removed by the author.


At 1:12 PM , Blogger Amy said…

I had to edit my original comment. Sorry!

I am at a loss as to how to help her. My husband is the same way. I truly believe he has health problems because his diet is horrible, but he always tries to blame it on other things. He also tries to blame his dislike on the texture of the food, but there are some foods that he'll eat that have similar textures to foods that he does not like. I think he's just full of it (especially since he can't know the texture of a food he's never eaten). He was catered to as a child, and that extended to his eating habits. He was never made to even try new things. Whatever he didn't like the look of, he refused to eat.

I wish I had video of the fits he threw when he saw me adding onions and carrots to beef stew, or when he realized that the spaghetti sauce we were having had chunks of tomatoes in it. Yeah. TERRIFIC example to the kids.

My oldest son, who used to eat just about everything I made and would at least try new things, morphed into a very picky eater over the past few years. I fear that my husband's habits are rubbing off. I have gone so far as to point out to my son that Daddy has problems that are more than likely due to his poor diet. I think it has helped my son understand some.

Best of luck to you. I wish I had some advice for you.


At 1:52 PM , Blogger Amy Elizabeth Butler said…

Anytime there is a disagreement about how life should be lived, I find it helpful to think about Cloud & Townsend's Boundaries books. She may never be able to change her husband's eating habits, but she has the option to set healthy boundaries for herself and her future children. The world is filled with people setting a bad example. The best thing we can do for our children is make sure they have at least one good one. Not out of control or guilt, but healthy, rational reasons why certain choices are better.


At 1:57 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

I think the commenter under "Shaun and Holly" makes a good point. We can't control our husbands, nor should we try. We can't treat them like children, either. That's why in my original Wifey Wednesday post I talked about how to negotiate and get a give-and-take going with your husband.

At the same time, it is really difficult when you want your children to eat healthily and your husband doesn't. I think this is a real conflict in a marriage that does need to be addressed, and I would handle it like any other conflict: talk about it, find ways to compromise (say you'll make something he just loves one day a week if in return on two days he eats veggies in front of the kids) or something. But remember that he is the husband, not the child!

I still think this is a really really difficult issue, though. Especially when it relates to health. We certainly don't want our husbands eating so badly that they put themselves at risk for heart disease or stroke, but many men do. What do we do about it?


At 2:06 PM , Blogger Amanda #1 said…

While I wouldn't normally advocate treating your husband like a child, the husband in question is clearly acting like one.

I would flat-out refuse to cook two meals. When my husband and I moved in together, he was a very picky eater. His mom routinely made (and continues to make) 3+ meals a night to accomodate the different "wants" in the house. I told my husband, "I am your wife. I am not a short-order cook. I will happily cook for you, but I am cooking one meal. If you don't like what's served, you're an adult. You're more than welcome to make youself something else. But I will not be assisting you in any way."

I have never deliberately cooked something he didn't like. If we have something and he doesn't like it, I don't make it again. But I stick by my original statement: I am a wife, not a short-order cook.


At 2:57 PM , Blogger Dena said…

First, I almost want to say...we are married to the same man! ha!

My husband is very picky as well, and I don't think it' always a reflection on their upbringing. According to his mother, he wouldn't even eat things like pizza or spaghetti until he was in college. He's a farmer, and grew up as one, so to this day he would be content to just have meat, potatoes and corn every night of the week.

I have never made separate meals, but usually had 2 side dishes available. With the meat, some would be seasoned, some plain. That has worked for us. Over the 22+ yrs he has gotten to where he will eat the meat with seasonings on it, so that gives us more variety.

My 16yr old son is JUST like him, and perhaps even worse. His gag reflux is super sensitive and certain textures of foods make him gag. It's getting better as he gets older, but he is afraid to try certain foods because he's developed a fear of gagging with them. Perhaps that's how my husband became so picky too?

On the other hand, I have 2 daughters. One is more adventurous like me, and one in-between her dad and I.

The rule at our house is, this is not a restaurant. Your two choices are: take it or leave it. If they don't like what is being served, they are welcome to make a pb sandwich or have a bowl of cereal, but I will not fix anything else for them.


At 3:02 PM , Blogger The Happy Domestic said…

I agree with Amanda #1 wholeheartedly. Thankfully, my husband is an easy to please and adventurous eater. Hearing about husbands who act like wilful children and show no concern for health makes me cringe. Maybe they need professional counselling? I'm all for cooking what my family likes, but within nutritious and reasonable limits!

As for the man who would blow the family budget on McD's because he didn't get his own way with dinner - doesn't he care that he is hurting not only himself but the whole family's security and wellbeing? I wish I knew what to say to help you ladies - you obviously have a tough road to walk.

I guess this is one more reason to strongly encourage our daughters and unmarried friends to carefully consider counselling BEFORE marriage, and find out these kinds of serious issues before it's too late.


At 5:50 PM , Blogger Miss. Candy said…

It may be a sensory issue and he really can't change without it causing him a great amount of grief. I know that may sound crazy to some, but as social worker I would see this often.

I would find meals you like that include items he likes, that way you are using the same items even if it is in a different way.

Everyone has flaws, you just have to decide which flaws you can live with!


At 6:15 PM , Blogger Tracye said…

My husband is the pickiest eater I've ever encountered. Meat, potatoes, corn and bread... lots and lots of bread.

Toast (butter only) and chocolate milke for breakfast every. single. day.

No casseroles.

No rice.

No pasta.

No sauces.

Nothing green.


He won't try anything new, either.

I usually cook a meat, baked potatoes, and another veggie or two. I like steamed broccoli, carrots and green beans, so I usually do one of those.

It is so frustrating, though. I don't know how to make our children eat what's on their plates, when Daddy won't.

I will say this: I once got him to try a lemon tart by promising him a little something-something after the kids went to bed!

He still talks about that!


At 6:26 PM , Blogger LAURA said…

I'm kind of hesitant to leave my comment because it's not quite the same as everyone else's... but I'm thinking that sometimes we need to be a little more creative with how we deal with situations. A few people have mentioned that if he tries something new one night you can cook one of his favorites the next. But I am going to take it a step further.

Basically cooking his favorite would be a "reward" for his efforts. But you have to find the reward that motivates him enough to put something in his mouth and swallow it that he has already decided is probably disgusting. His favorite food the next night just might not do it because he knows he will eventually get it anyways.

So the thought that came to my mind... if it was me in this situation... I don't buy or wear lingerie. I just don't care to. I know my husband would love it. So if I REALLY wanted him to try new foods I might offer that we can go shopping and pick out some lingerie and I would actually wear it for him.

Think outside of the box. Does he want you to be interested in football with him but you don't care to try it out? Has he been asking you to go on that long hike or a camping or canoe trip and you just haven't felt up to it?

Maybe this will be your answer. Maybe not. But I figure it's something worth thinking about.


At 6:28 PM , Blogger sarahe said…

Well, I must say, thank you all for your advice (I am "this woman" that we are trying to help ;) . With him, I know it is mostly just a stubbornness thing b/c he is like this in so many areas of life. He just doesn't like change or trying new things--and why risk a meal that he may not enjoy when he could have something that he loves? (health is not a factor that he considers)

Honestly, it is not a huge huge issue for us right now b/c I am content to make him a sandwich or bake a chicken breast for him when I make myself a veggie wrap or quesidilla, but the idea of having kids with him terrifies me because this stubbornness is so dominant. We talk about it a lot. I guess I just have to keep praying and waiting! I definitely see counseling as an option, but I don't think he would be open to it at all. We did pre-marital counseling and really gained a lot from it, but I'm sure you are all familiar with things that one does in order to impress someone they are trying to "woo" as opposed to behaviors that are continued after marriage.

Thank you all for your insight so far, and keep the comments coming!!


At 8:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

How about a success story?
Your description almost matches my husband 5 years ago, when we met. He ate kraft mac and cheese, plain spaghetti and sauce, pizza and burgers. No veggies at all except mashed potatoes. It was a nightmare to cook for us. At first, I tried coaxing, wheedling, games, just a bite, ect. Nothing. He wouldn’t budge.

Then, in a panic over his bad cholesterol results, I asked him to help me help him. He agreed. Together we looked up recipes and meals that he might like. Some were pretty much the same, but with a more grown-up adaptation. Home made mac and cheese, vs. Kraft, for instance. His menu expanded to variations on the classic. Baked potatoes were now ok. Sauce with “stuff” in it wasn’t so bad.

Then, he realized how much fun it was to cook and create. He'll find a recipe he likes, except for one ingredient, and modify it. He is so proud of his “cheese burger” meatloaf. From there, he started exploring grilling recipes, slow-cooker recipes, and he even watches Rachel Ray to get ideas.

For veggies, we started growing our own. There really is something about a veggie you grew yourself. (We have window boxes because we have an apartment.) And we go to farmers markets to get fresh veggies. He vastly prefers fresh to canned or frozen. On our honeymoon he ate his first salad.. For me, it was one of the best moments of our vacation. He doesn’t love veggies, but he’s learning to at least tolerate them.

Over the course of two years his eating habits have developed and he's lost 70lbs. (He looks and feels great!) He also started exercising, a key factor in a healthy life style.

Today, we make meals a team effort. He likes to feel included in every part of the process, from planning, to shopping, to cooking. We tried two new recipes this week. He didn’t love them, but instead of having a fit, or refusing to eat them, as he ate, he talked quite rationally about what to change so he would. (Less tomatoes, more garlic, ect.) He's not adventurous, but he's open, especially now that he’s pat of the process. I am so proud of him!

We don’t have children yet, but both of us agree that including our children in meal prep is a must. It’s so great to hear him talk about how he’d love to teach his child how to make his “famous” meatloaf! It makes me a little teary eyed with love.

I do have to say that until he decided he wanted to change, I got absolutely no results and no help. I’d say your first step is to talk to your husband with a health professional, if need be. My husband’s cholesterol results were a huge factor in his decision to change. Once he commits to changing, then you can go forth and be his support, his guide, and his best advocate. Until then, you’ll just fight over it.

Good luck! It can be done.


At 8:07 PM , Blogger Sarahlcc said…

Take it or fix your own, quite frankly. I want to stay healthy. I do try to have at least one thing each of us like, but if they don't like it, there's always cereal and milk.

God answers when his children cry out to him. My hubs wouldn't even look at beans when we first were wed, "yuck" was his comment when I cooked my very best red beans and rice. I was so shocked and disturbed I asked God about it, and two weeks later the husband read some article that talked about all the health benefits of beans, and he's eaten them often since.

PRAY! Beg God for change! This could be just a symptom of a prevailing spiritual stronghold in his life!

And make sure he has a good life insurance policy. Just sayin'


At 12:25 PM , Blogger Wifeof1Momof4 said…

This discussion makes me thankful for the huuby I have because he eats a lot of veggies and so my sons (who want to be like daddy) eat them too. They even have favorites.

Sometimes you just don't realize the blessing in front of you.

I'm sorry for those of you who are having a stressful time in this area. I wish I had some suggestions so you could have one LESS thing to deal with, but I WOULD keep offering to the children.


At 12:47 PM , Blogger Kate said…

My husband would be labeled a "picky eater". No pasta or sauces, spices or casseroles or pizza. He is a meat and potatoes man and I am ok with that. He will eat vegetables because I put them on the table, but they aren't his favourite. But with three sets of little eyes watching him, he eats them. For some things it's a texture issue. Our son leans more towards my husband but is open to trying new things. My daughter will try almost anything. Recently she dicovered she loved chinese food!

I don't mind making different meals. If my daughter and I want pasta, we will make something different for my husband and son.

I guess I look at this way. My husband doesn't drink, smoke, gamble or cheat. He's loving and supportive and so hardworking so that I can stay at home. If that means I have to restrict our meals or make more than one, I'm happy to do it.

No big deal here.

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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