Sacrifice Relationships for Dietary Purity
Dr. Ben Kim
my wife and I were first dating, I remember being very pleased with myself for
making all sorts of healthy and tasty meals for her. My goal was to make healthy
meals so delicious that she wouldnt have a problem eating the way I did.
Thick and hearty leek, chickpea and potato soup, freshly made hummus and ripe
tomatoes over toasted whole grain baguettes, my famous guacamole with baked corn
chips, and of course, a fresh, colorful salad with all sorts of raw vegetables
with a creamy tahini dressing this was a typical meal!
hard to describe the angst I felt whenever she decided to have something that
wasnt on my menu. The pain was never worse than one evening when I sat with
her at a café in uptown Toronto, sipping my peppermint tea while she went
to work on a gargantuan ice cream sundae. This thing was about twice the size
of your typical McDonalds sundae. Lucky for me, she was so happy with every spoonful
that she didnt seem to notice my disappointment and heavy heart.
took about a year and a half before I woke up to an important realization. During
her occasional forays into less-than-healthy cuisine, it was me who was unhappy
and unhealthy. She was happier than a kid on Halloween. While I brooded over the
damage that I felt she was doing to her health, she seemed quite content with
her occasional treats.
time, she began to feel the pressure that I created with my obsession over dietary
purity. Not only was this pressure stressful, it created resentment in her heart
that dampened her capacity to maintain a loving and supportive relationship with
me. This got me to carefully consider my reasons for wanting us to eat healthfully.
Did I want for us to be healthy, just to be healthy? Or did I want for us to be
healthy so that we could spend many years with each other and our families, doing
things we find personally meaningful?
our feelings of conflict about a loved ones food choices comes from a genuine
desire to see them live a long and healthy life. The problem is that sometimes,
we can forget that people need to feel peace of mind to be healthy. And peace
of mind rarely comes when we feel judged and disapproved of by those we are supposed
to be closest to. Interestingly, it has been my experience that when we let go
of our expectations of others and what they should do with their forks, chopsticks,
and lives, they end up feeling more supported and accepted, which makes them want
to consistently make choices that will lead to long and healthy lives. I mean,
why would anyone want to live a long life if they constantly feel judged and disapproved
doesnt mean that you have to spread a toothy grin over your face when your
spouse, child, or parent makes quick work of half a dozen doughnuts and a frosty
glass of soda. It means that, in my opinion, the best shot you have of getting
your spouse to make better choices is to strive to be as healthy as you can, without
sending any obvious or subtle messages of disapproval of their choices. If one
day, they wake up and are inspired by your example, they will start their own
journey to better health.
the record, my wife and I strive to consistently eat whole, unprocessed foods.
But if a slice of pumpkin pie presents itself to us once in a while, we strive
to eat it with happy and grateful hearts.
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