in: Wellness

The Dinner Dilemma: How to Keep Food from Souring a Good Relationship

With the proper tools in place, a good relationship is capable of withstanding any conflict. Don’t let differences in dietary choices cause lovers’ trouble.

It’s easy to see eating as a mundane task considering that we have to do it every day, multiple times a day; but get yourself stuck into a food dilemma and you’ll quickly see it’s much more than an obligation. In reality, it’s one of life’s simplest pleasures. For some people, it’s actually one of the most important. As Louise Fresco said, Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity.”

Meals bring people together and create a feel-good environment with the exciting smells and tastes sitting before us. Food can add a whole other level of happiness to a moment. But as much as eating can elevate things, it also poses the opportunity to tear things apart. The dating world is full of single nutrition nuts, vegetarians, steak lovers, paleo fanatics, and comfort food fiends, with every category packing date-worthy candidates. If you limit yourself to finding someone with only the same food ideals you’ll be missing out on some great people, but you also want to avoid stepping on shaky ground.

Spare yourself the food drama by chewing on a few tips…

Be Open

We all hear how like attracts like, but that’s not always the case when it comes to eating. Veganism offers an excellent example of this. Vegans take a specific dietary approach that excludes meat, eggs, and dairy, but vegans everywhere are finding love with omnivores. In fact, it’s estimated that about 35% of vegans have non-vegan partners. Considering the big list of “no’s” that come with being vegan, that poses a HUGE difference in a couple’s eating habits. Without the right care, these differences can create some sore spots.

The vegans of the world have access to thousands of blogs loaded with great recipes, so there are easy ways to bring an omnivore and vegetarian to the same table. But while you’re making food that the two of you can eat, don’t get stuck thinking that your way of eating is superior. There’s a reason your partner eats the way they do, so spare them the statistics and arguments that support your food choices. It’s great to have conversations about these things, but you should be just as willing to listen to their thoughts as you are to share your own.

Prove you’re open by trying new foods and recipes. You don’t have to like them, but at least be willing to experience your partner’s approach to things. They obviously find pleasure in eating the way they do, and they shouldn’t have to feel bad for that. Besides, being open creates a whole new world of tastes and experiences that the two of you can share together. New favorite foods and fresh meal ideas are always a good thing.

Cook With “We” in Mind

If you’re the one shopping or cooking, then you’re probably going to fry and buy as usual. Even though we may start a relationship with a few of our partner’s considerations in mind, we’re often only willing to do this where it’s convenient for us. Even the most considerate of foodie’s are subject to fizzling enthusiasm thanks to old habits and routine; however, while we obviously think highly of our eating preferences, doing things our way can imply to our partner that their food behaviors are wrong while ours are right. This can make for one messy food fight, so meals should be done according to “we” rather than “me.”

If you want your partner to feel accepted, you’re going to have to actually accept them. Beliefs, eating habits, Mt. Everest laundry piles, and all. These differences offer the chance to have some great conversations and exchange some interesting ideas, but you don’t take the “my way or the highway” mentality. Talk about what you like and why, but be open to other ideas of doing the same thing. We can’t expect to satisfy our partner’s birthday cravings with a raw cake and zucchini noodles, but we can certainly find ways to combine our favorites into something that both partners can enjoy.

While you’re incorporating two eating styles into your meal plan, remember to focus on them now and then. We’re obviously inclined to make meals that are all about us, so it’s only fair that we have meals that cater to them. It can be a balancing act, but as long as you’re giving your partner the same treatment you’re giving yourself, no one has to feel “wrong” or ostracized. Health nuts dating lovers of comfort food can pair a veggie salad with some homemade mac and cheese loaded with healthy, tasty herbs. Meals can include things that will keep you both healthy while appeasing your tastebuds. And while recipes can be tweaked and modified to address both bellies, make sure you never sacrifice on taste or texture. Food appeals to all our senses, so aim for a sensual punch that will satisfy all areas. Don’t expect your partner to be happy with what you like just because you like it.     

Stay True to You

Yes, we want to be open and steer clear of egocentric ways, but we need to stay true to who we are. We have our beliefs and preferences, and we shouldn’t give those up. The moment we start adopting someone else’s ways for our own, we open a door into bitterness and resentment. Start digging that hole, and it gets deep and mucky real fast.

So, how do can you be open and accepting and stay true to yourself? It’s a bit of a balancing act, but the basic idea is quite simple. Determine what eating means at its core so you can understand what your eating habits revolve around. If your idea of meal time means relaxing and bringing people together, then eating in front of the TV may be perfectly acceptable. Alternatively, you may see dinner as a time to focus on each other, so distractions wouldn’t be welcome. Whatever your needs are for mealtime, create an environment that addresses that. Yes, your partner will have their own mealtime needs that need to be considered, but you can find some common ground that addresses the core of eating for both parties. Then, no one has to feel bitter or neglected.  

Love to Eat & Eat to Love

Food should be a wonderful thing! We love to eat, and we should put this same love and fun into eating with the ones we love. Have fun with food by stepping outside your comfort zone. Seek new tastes and culinary adventures. You don’t have to like everything you try, but at least be willing to step outside the box when the opportunity presents itself. The one constant in life is change, so let’s be willing to spice things up with our partners and our plates. If we keep things fun and interesting, we’ll never get bored.

Love on, Everybody!

About the Author

ash stevens bioAsh Stevens is a mother, writer, and a wannabe shaman. She loves health, gardening, simplicity, culture, chocolate, and sarcasm. If she isn’t writing or talking family and relationships on her blog, then she’s surely playing badminton with the kids. Find her on Twitter or Facebook and make a new friend!

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