Hi. Feeling alienated this evening. My partner and I have had several conversations about how often she eats fast food (and just carb heavy meals in general). She and her son have eaten fast food at least 4 times this week. I’ve told her many times that it’s hard for me to watch that because I couldn’t really do it if I wanted to be healthy. “I’ll eat what I want” is a direct quote. My question, am I being overly sensitive here? I feel like we should be more of a team. I’d like to live as long as I can, which is why I had chicken and veggies this evening instead of a burger and fries. But it’s difficult to feel close to her after this happens. Does anyone have experience with this? My family has always been supportive and sensitive to my eating limitations. Thing is, she’s really caring for the most part. I find it hard to see a long-term future if we can’t see eye to eye on this. Thanks for any insight.
Hi @JoelTT and welcome to the forum. Kudos to you on your choice to live healthfully. I was diagnosed in 1963 and growing up there were “exchange plans,” and diabetes diets that completely forbade sweets and treats; and there have been various iterations since. As you know the tools we have now give us much more freedom, with the key being matching insulin to the carbs we choose and other factors. I’ve heard people with diabetes say “I can eat whatever I want so long as…” and technically that may be true, but that doesn’t mean everything is good for you - so again, kudos.
That said, I myself enjoy fast food and some high carb meals - mine may average from 20 on the lower end to 60 or occasionally more depending. I am a fan of the show My 600 Pound Life, and from it I see as an outsider how important family support is. Often the problem for the patient on the program is that their family enables them in their poor eating habits. Thankfully in your case you’re an independent thinker who has committed to a healthful lifestyle for your own sake.
Unfortunately we can’t change people who don’t want to change on their own - in those cases we have to learn to manage our own responses and choices, and sometimes a gentler approach can help: offer a serving of your delicious chicken salad and don’t force it if she says no. If her response is “I’ll eat what I want” she may come to want it on her own if she doesn’t feel pressured (and if you make it look tempting enough😊). Not to criticize - just suggest.
You mention her son, for whom you have some concerns. That may be a bit trickier since you’re not his dad. I assume you have no say you in medical decisions, and you may not be able to be as forceful (for lack of a better term) as his parents by blood. All I can suggest is that you remind your partner that the habits he learns now will follow him and his health info adulthood. When I was growing up with Type1 my mom tried to keep things healthy in our home. There was a time when one of the many (many many many many…) hats moms wore was “nutritionist,” and formal training or not moms knew that certain types of foods should be kept to a minimum of not outlawed altogether. My dad would bring home cookies - my mom would toss them out. But my dad still managed to sneak some by - he didn’t want me to feel penalized. Thankfully I got through childhood with no noticeable damage (we didn’t have home meters until I was out of college so who knew what was really going on). I made it and have been doing well even with close to 60 years of diabetes under my belt. Still there are times I wish I had learned better health and fitness habits when I was younger - I wouldn’t be as tempted by sweets and fast foods (which I do indulge in) as I am now, and wouldn’t struggle so much to get up and exercise.
So do what you can to encourage her to look at the choices she’s making for her son even if not herself. If he’s overweight now I imagine his doctors are working on that - if not they may be in the future.
Manage what you can - sometimes the gentle touch works wonders - and keep that independent thinking that you’re using to stay as healthy as you can despite what’s going on around you. If you’re still “dancing the night away” with no end in sight while she’s tired and sitting down watching you with envy, you might just make your point.
Wishing you all the best - please keep us posted.
I grew up with exchanges, too. Which were the basis for Weight Watchers.
Personally, I believe very much in having a balanced, varied diet. Anyone who took even a basic biochemistry class should know that every cell in your body is designed to run on carbs. They’re an essential nutrient. As with anything, it’s easy to overdo, and that has its own consequences. But I’m not a fan of low carb diets, diabetic or otherwise. (I’m also not a fan of carb counting because I feel like it just oversimplifies the exchange system, lumping sugar and complex carbs together while not counting calories from fat or protein, and doing nothing about fruit and vegetable intake.) You and your doctor may feel differently, and that’s fine.
I’ll eat fast food now and again. It gets a bad rap, but pizza and burgers are still a balance of complex carbs and protein. Add in some veggies, and you’ve got a balanced meal. Nothing wrong with it, even if it is cheap. (Well, I mean, the beef is cheap because they’re destroying the Amazon rainforest to make cheap disposable pasture land. But that’s another matter.)
I’m also Jewish and was raised in a house that largely kept kosher. I won’t eat shrimp. I won’t eat cheeseburgers. But I won’t hold it against anyone who does because my rules are not their rules, and what they choose to eat does not affect me. Mom likes shrimp and lobster, and that’s her choice. She doesn’t indulge often, but what she orders goes on her plate, not mine.
Even in my teens, in dealing with being diabetic, I had no trouble selling candy for school fundraisers. A lot of people asked me about that, but I honestly didn’t care that I couldn’t eat it myself. The point was that other people wanted to. Likewise, going to birthday parties where there was lots of cake and dessert was no skin off my nose. I knew my limits, and I knew other people had different circumstances. I’d have a sliver of cake, and that was good enough. No need to spoil their party just because I couldn’t go hog wild.
But I also firmly believe that an overly strict diet is unhealthy and unsustainable. If you feel so constrained by your diet that it’s upsetting, you’re going to have problems down the road. You’re going to chafe at it. You’re going to resent it. You’re going to build up frustration, day by day. It’s going to get incrementally more stressful. And there are different ways that will express itself in different people, but none of them are good. You need room in your diet for flexibility and to have foods you enjoy and crave.
That said… It’s good you want your partner and her son to make healthy choices. And it can be a real concern if you’re going to have a major sticking point like food choices come up day after day. That’s something you need to work out, or it’s not going to be sustainable. It also just touches on broader POV stuff. Philosophy of life, approach to problems, etc. As you say, you should be able to work as a team and to find compromises and solutions that work for everyone. Although sometimes those solutions involve accepting that you won’t see eye to eye on everything and it’s maybe better to let each other do some things separately, each in your own way.
No one makes all the healthy choices all the time. (Not to mention… I’m not generally a fan of Woody Allen, but he does have one good quote that comes up from time to time. “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred.”)
As with most things in life, it’s a question of balance. Of finding the right limits and boundaries and figuring out how flexible they should be. It’s also a question of what you can live with seeing your family (including the son I’m presuming you’ll be helping to raise) doing.
I don’t think there’s a right answer here. We’re talking about complex questions and gray areas. This is something that bothers you. It’s not something I’d have a problem with. But that’s not the question. Why does it bother you? Can you come to terms with it? Should you? And can you work with your partner on this and other issues? I can’t answer any of that for you. I hope something in here helps you find a good perspective, whatever that may be. (Sometimes just having someone say something you disagree with can help you identify what you disagree with and why.)
It’s also just…
The right diet for a diabetic is different from the right diet for someone with Crohn’s disease is different from the right diet for an Olympic athlete in training is different from the right diet for a growing teenager is different…
We’ve all got unique metabolisms and nutritional needs. Healthy eating in general is good. But there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution to that.
The people around you are going to eat things you shouldn’t. If the problem is that you’re feeling deprived, that’s something to consider. They can perhaps be considerate about it. But ultimately it’s internal to you. On the other hand, if the problem is that you think they’re being unhealthy, that’s something you can talk over with them. If they’re not willing to listen, it might be worth listening to learn why.
People should be allowed to make their own choices and do what’s right for them, but they have to understand and consider how those choices affect the people around them, especially family. If their unhealthy choices are going to affect the quality of life of the group down the road, that’s a valid concern. But your choices affect them, too.
Compatibility doesn’t just mean agreeing about everything. No two people agree on everything, and if they did it would be awfully boring. It’s about how you deal with disagreements that matters. And, again, that’s not a one-size-fits-all issue. It just has to be something that works for you and your partner both.
I think I look negatively at people who don’t at least try to eat lean protein, whole grains and a variety of veggies most of the time. It might not be right, but that’s who I am. There’s a lot of sodium in fast food and that in itself turns me off. Plus, a lot of calories for what you get. It doesn’t appeal to me at all and when I see people eating it 4-5 times a week….it seems sad. I suppose we should compromise, but I don’t think I could eat fast food even once a week. I don’t tell others what they should eat, though. I cook nutritious, delicious food and if others want something else, that’s up to them. I have found that people will eat what they want and really aren’t going to change unless they want to for themselves.
Hi Joel @JoelTT! My husband had some bad dietary choices that I discovered when we married. Instead of harping on him I, I decided to use our time together to cook with him. We decided on the menu together and carved out time to cook. If he wanted Mac and cheese with our marinated chicken, I didn’t get upset. I just added steamed veggies also. When he wanted to grill burgers twice a month, great! We also grilled seasoned veggies with it. Chinese food? We made our own chicken stir fry loaded with good things. Try to make cooking together a pleasant bonding experience to bring you guys together! She will also save a ton of money!
Thank you for your insight! I appreciate you taking the time to write. I hope to open up to her more about it.
Thank you for your thoughts! I appreciate them.
I love @homeschoolingmomof5 's suggestion of making your partner pay off the process. Another way to do that would to be to get some feedback from her as you’re making your dish - “How does this taste? Do you want to add something?” That could go a long way.
Always hoping for the best for you. Remember, change comes gradually.