27 Ways to Live with Your Non-Paleo Spouse


27 Ways To Live With Your Non-Paleo Spouse
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You’ve lost a few pounds and are working on cooking from scratch.

But as you study your latest new recipe, your spouse comes in.

He walks towards you with a smile on his face and you can tell he’s about to announce something big.

He holds up his catch, triumphant, a grin splitting his face in two.

Cock of the walk.

And he plonks his haul on the countertop.

You look at it, your heart sinks and you wonder how to burst his bubble gently.

He has brought home four gourmet double-double chocolate chip cookies.

Each the size of a small spaceship.

He’s ready for a celebration!

He’s brimming with pride.

You’re brimming, too.

But not with pleasure.

Does that sound familiar?

Those of us who’ve embarked on a new way of eating for ourselves and seen success want to tell the world about our discoveries.

We look better, feel better and we want to pay it forward.

We are the worst kind of convert, a missionary.

We knock uninvited on doors, persistently and authoritatively, skins as thick as the door itself.

And when the door is slammed in our face, we quickly shove our foot into place and carry on with our proselytizing.

Eventually our feet get as sore as our throats as we wonder why exactly are these people not seeing the light that we can see.

Why can they not walk towards it and become bathed in its healthful, cholesterol-lowering glow?

Why do they not want to have more energy, look good naked and be irresistible to the opposite sex?

Why do they turn to the SAD devil and listen to his call?

Why do they sit around, creaking and groaning, popping so many pills they need a spreadsheet to keep track.

And all the while you’re wondering…

Just how far into space could he get on one of those cookies?

Worst of all, instead of flying off, those cookies stay on the counter.

Taunting you, the sneaky devil whispers oh so quietly and seductively.

You resist. But it wears you down.

Then, you…you…eat it!

Immediately, you get mad.

With yourself, the cookie-makers, your spouse for bringing it into your orbit.

Possibly even a politician or two.

No-one is exempt from your castigation.

They’re all at fault.

What to do?

You’re going backwards. Your family isn’t getting healthy.

Your spouse is sabotaging you.

You’re getting so frustrated, you could supply your own rocket fuel to NASA.

I’ve spent years keeping my family away from the Standard American Diet.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours over the past 5 years on boards discussing how to do this.

And one thing I’ve noticed, one spouse (usually Dad but not always) invariably doesn’t get it.

It is rarely intentional, it isn’t mean, nasty or passive aggressive.

It is often unconscious, unthinking, clueless.

Another scenario is rebellion.

This can be aggressive, passive aggressive or just passive.

Perhaps you get the ‘Did you buy any peanut butter today?’ or ‘Where’s the bread?’ type of questions.

Maybe you get tantrums.

Or maybe it’s thin lips and a sigh.

And an icy chill breezes through.

Make no mistake though, if your partner is actively sabotaging you, is disrespectful, ridiculing you, or raging, you have bigger problems than simply eating differently.

And you need to take steps to uncover and deal with those problems.

This post, however, is about the tactics you can employ to live harmoniously with someone you are mostly on the same wavelength with.

For fifteen months I lived with a non-paleo spouse and I prepared to write this post.

Then he jumped spaceship and came onboard mine.

Totally unexpectedly and 100%.

If you read my Facebook page, you’ll know we now have a pull-up bar in our bedroom.

We have run out of bread.

I can’t guarantee your non-paleo spouse will embrace your way of eating even if you read this post.

Were life that easy.

But you can learn to live harmoniously alongside one another and minimize your frustration with the problems you will unavoidably encounter.

This isn’t a new problem.  It can be done.

27 Ways To Live With Your Non-Paleo Spouse

1. Control what you can and accept the rest.

Your spouse is an adult (I hope!) Ultimately we cannot control the mind and thoughts of others. You can only control yourself. No exceptions. Focus on yourself, your eating, your health. It’s time to put your oxygen mask on.

2. Demand respect.

You have a right to believe what you believe, to be confident, to eat the way you want. Respect underpins everything, including a marriage and despite whatever differences there are in the way you eat.

3. Respect the transition.

Transitions are a vastly undervalued/disregarded in our society. We are rush, rush, rush, switching from this thing to that thing at a moment’s notice. We get crazed and ultimately crash.

We have to afford our spouse the time to change too. They may not be disillusioned with how they eat. Or disillusioned enough. Mentally they are not ready to make a change and any efforts we make to persuade them are doomed to failure and will likely make the tensions worse.

4. Be patient.

A spouse will not embrace a new way until they are ready and that will take time. The trigger might be seeing the example you are providing, or it might be a doctor giving them some bad news. However it happens, we can’t be disillusioned for them. It’s tempting but back to #1, we don’t control other people. We have to wait.

5. Accept it may never happen.

Acceptance is a tough call. It implies loss and sadness and giving up and we hate it and avoid it. When that acceptance involves someone we love, it is very difficult. But sometimes we have no choice. When people are adults we have to accept their right to do things their way. We might not like it but we have to respect that.

6. Hope for change but don’t plan on it.

It is never too late to turn things around. Keep on keepin’ on. It took my husband 15 months of me eating paleo before he bought into it. And I certainly never expected it. Then, whoosh, he 100% jumped in. “Softly, softly, catchee monkey.” I can’t guarantee your spouse will do this, but it is possible. Keep hoping. Keep focusing on yourself. Keep being an example.

7. Be assertive.

Ask for what you need. If your wife is bringing home coffee room leftovers, ask her not to. It may never have occurred to her (you’d be surprised how often this apparently obvious no-no behavior is unconscious.) Ask for a united stand in front of the children. Negotiate what you can both accept – maybe it’s sandwiches for lunch or dessert twice a week. I had to stop my husband taking our kids for Sunday morning doughnuts. Until I asked him, it had never crossed his mind not to. All he thought about was how that was a fun thing to do in his family growing up and he wanted to re-experience those emotions as an adult with his own kids. Take a non-judgmental stance and probe a bit. Find out what emotions are driving those behaviors.

8. Keep calm and carry on.

As parents we think children will stay as they are right now and that every stage is critical. Speaking as a parent of former preemies, both of whom nearly died from illness as preschoolers and whose little bodies were saved but also destroyed by drugs, please know that they can heal. And they can do that at any time. We forget (or don’t have the perspective until we’ve been through it) that children grow, evolve, survive and thrive. What is happening right now, is not the be all and end all. Relax. They have a long life to live. If they can’t eat healthy now, put the building blocks in place for when they can make their own choices.

9. Work on yourself first

‘The key to life is healthy boundaries.’ I love this quote by Linda at talktherapybiz. Unless we recognize where we stop and other people start, life gets messy and uses up a lot of wasted energy. Make sure you know where your paleo eating boundaries are. Are you 80% or a 100%? Do you take days off for holidays or just your birthday? Do you eat absolutely no grains or will you eat white rice? Can you look at a cookie and have it stay silent or does it call your name? Are you committed to paleo or are you waffling. Focus on you, your choices, your health.

10. Avoid enabling.

Sounds obvious but doing research for this post, I went to Gam-Anon, the support organization for families of addicted gamblers and I came across this point. Don’t buy non-paleo foods or bring them into the house. Don’t encourage non-paleo eating. It’s one thing to have a rule that they can eat anything they buy or outside the home, it’s another to buy it for them or make a dessert. If you’re going to eat off-paleo, discuss it beforehand – what you’re going to do and why. And make it a rare occasion.

11. Move slowly and often.

Where you have a mixed household situation, take the transition to cleaner and cleaner paleo slowly. Going cold turkey is fine, even desirable if you are both/all in agreement, but a little subtlety is required if you’re not. Start with one meal and paleo-ize it. I dropped the carbs with dinner. Get your first step down and move onto something else. You can still eat 100% clean yourself if you choose, just don’t expect the family to follow suit. Take them slow.

12. Thank the cook.

If you are the one putting in the time to cook the meals, you deserve the respect of everyone who benefits from that. No matter what you put in front of them. No complaints, no arguing. You deserve a thank you for producing the meal they get to put in their bellies. If you don’t have that, this should be the place you start. Explain how important it is to perform this basic courtesy. And let them know how to do it.

If you are a couple with kids make sure you model respect for the cook’s effort in front of your kids. There should be lots of praise for the chef no matter who or what is cooking. Even if it’s food you don’t approve of. First things first.

13. You want it, you buy it, you prepare it, you eat it.

Hold the expectation that whoever shops and cooks controls the menu. In our house, I do the shopping and the cooking so I get to determine the menu. If anyone wants non-paleo food, they have to take responsibility for providing it and that includes the kids. If they want buns with their burgers, they go buy them, toast them, put the burger in the bun, etc. They are responsible for their choices and I make sure I don’t enable. Things get very clear, very quickly this way.

14. Negotiate the menu.

You can ask your family what they would like to eat (although you don’t have to see #13 above.) Give them choices within a spectrum. For example, give them a choice between three paleo meals and let them choose one. Rotate who gets to choose. Decide if you’re willing to go off-paleo, set a limit and make choices within that framework. Do this for as long as it takes to transition.

15. Eat paleo in, free choice out.

Maintain a strict paleo household but let family members eat what they want when they’re out. You’ve pretty much lost control when you’re out and about anyway. There are too any temptations and social pressures. That includes Dad at the office, kids at their friend’s houses, etc. When we’re out, I will allow my kids to eat burgers with a bun and French fries. It pains me but I have explained what and why and they are old enough to make their own choices.

16. Gather a support network.

During the time I was the only paleo-eater in the house, I read books, blogs, commented, tried new recipes. I surrounded myself with all things paleo. This is essential. If you don’t have a support group at home, or in real life, create one online.

17. Choose your resources wisely.

Try not to influence others directly but if you do, choose a medium that works for your spouse’s or kids personalities. My family love reality shows where 21st century people recreate life in a period in history (1900 House, 1940s House.) So when I saw I-Caveman was coming up, I got them to watch it. They loved it, it spawned some great discussion and my husband particularly got a bit warmer to this whole ‘weird’ paleo thing. Perhaps your spouse will read a book – the 21 Day Transformation by Mark Sisson is good for a beginner. Or a success story which is shorter and results oriented. To my delight, there are kids books coming out shortly. And if anyone is interested in developing a board game, or even a computer game, let me know!

18. Be prepared.

If a spark of interest in the paleo way of eating does ignite, be ready. Answer the questions, have the resources available. Do not carry an attitude. Don’t nag. Be delighted, be 100% supportive, take it as far as s/he will go at that moment. That might not be as far as adopting paleo, it might fall far short, but water the seed a little. Then wait for the next spark.

19. Don’t be rigid.

Accept and plan for imperfection. We all slip up. You and me and us and them. Work on yourself, identify your triggers, accept them and move on. And accept your wife sitting next to you eating dessert. It is her life, her body. The consequences of her actions may ultimately affect you in some way but you need to let that go. You don’t know what will happen. Things change. She may change. Let it go. Be prepared. Hope. Work on yourself.

20. Allocate house space to your food and non-paleo food.

I have special places in the house for non-paleo food.  It is either: difficult to get to – the freezer in the garage or a high shelf; tucked behind my own food where I can’t see it; or on a shelf that I have trained myself to overlook every time. Those cookies that were brought home as a nice surprise -they go on a high shelf for example. An added bonus is that eventually the family forgets about them too, and I can quietly throw them away. Sometimes I freeze them and wait for a time when cookies are planned.

21. Buy a thermos, teach menu scanning.

Pack him/her paleo leftovers for lunch in a thermos instead of sandwiches. Brainstorm paleo options (soups, salads, even half a sandwich and soup is better than a whole sandwich.) Teach substitutions and menu scanning in restaurants. Many spouses are completely dumbfounded on how to do this. But if they show a crack of interest, help them.

22. Slowly remove the tension food.

Take your time. Just as you transition healthy food slowly in, transition trash foods slowly out. This may occur naturally as you get more aware as a couple or family or you may need to ask for it not to be purchased. Politely. And then you might have to offer up reminders until the unconscious behaviors are removed as a habit. Just go slowly and keep in mind the bigger picture. Keep asking yourself – are you a healthier household than 6 months ago? If yes, you’re doing great. Baby steps, aim for progress not perfection.

23. Commit to paleo eating.

Commit yourself to paleo. Don’t waffle. Set your boundaries. Educate yourself. Believe in it. Stand for it. Don’t complain. Don’t explain. Be sure in your actions. Your spouse will see that you’re not for turning.

24. Manage your frustration with non-paleo eating.

Don’t take it out on your spouse. I once got some great advice. When you are frustrated with someone else, work on yourself. Improve your life in some way, develop an interest, or do something to offset whatever is frustrating you that you have control over – improve your own commitment to paleo, for example. Find someway to feel better about yourself. That way, the focus is taken off your partner and her actions. It’s amazing how this works. It is what it is, now what can you do about it? For you.

25. State the obvious.

When my kids were babies, I’d load them in the jogger every day for a walk. My husband’s job was to get the drinks while I did this. Every day he’d ask me what I wanted, Coke or water. Every day, I said the same thing, ‘Water.’ One day, I told him. ‘I want water. Every time. Water. Please don’t ask me each time. Every day. Water.’ He never asked me again. Sometimes, just stating the obvious is enough. ‘I don’t eat pizza. Ever.’ Don’t underestimate what appears to you to be the obvious.

26. Keep it simple.

When asked, I say I eat meat and veg. I don’t go into no grains, limited dairy, evolution or any of that. Most people can grasp meat and veg. I don’t even say ‘vegetables.’ I want to get the thought into their brain as quickly and effectively as possible. I also keep it positive so that I’m saying what I can eat, not what I can’t. If you’re having trouble with a spouse keeping up, keep your explanations and your words simple. Then employ short syllable words. ‘No,’ ‘Yes,’ and ‘Thank you,’ are very effective. I’m not kidding, either.

27. Remind yourself you’re ahead of your time.

You are probably experienced with passive aggressive and not-so passive aggressive behaviors if you’re reading this. I’ve lost count of the number of people who joke about my way of eating. Or get concerned for me. It can get exhausting! In twenty years, I tell myself, paleo will be considered the normal, healthy way of eating and people will be saying, ‘Alison was right.’ (They probably won’t think that but it’s what I repeat to myself as a kind of mantra.) We are simply early adopters and like the missionaries we have to deal with prejudice and obstacles. Our ability to deal with this in order to achieve a goal is awesome and worthy. And something to be proud of. Be proud. And stand firm in the face of naysayers. Even if one of them is your spouse.

I think like any change, it’s a delicate dance this paleo/non-paleo marriage thing.

It’s frightening sometimes to get on a different wagon, while our partner remains in place. The temptation is to fall off the one we’ve just got on and climb back on the old one alongside our partner. If we carry on on our separate wagon, though, our fear is that the two wagons will go in completely different directions. Plus it’s plain frustrating. The neutral, in-between zone, is always uncomfortable.

Stay on your wagon, go slowly, see the bigger picture and control what you can and leave the rest. It is an exercise in forbearance, patience and self-control. In other words, it is about building skills greater than eating paleo. Find a way you can live with a non-paleo spouse, for life if necessary. It is a discipline, a daily practice but you will be a better person, and parent, for it.

Children, marriage, they’re not static entities. They change, evolve, just like everything. What is happening today may be different tomorrow or next week, next year.  You don’t know.

Once the transition has been integrated and you’ve both found a way to live with each other, things will level out. During the storming, adjusting phase, things are tricky. Keep at it, break it down, deal with obstacles one by one. Even if your spouse never gets on board, make sure you do the best by yourself. And maybe one fine day, the sun will shine and he’ll jump ship.

And you can fly the universe together.

Do you have a non-paleo spouse? How do you manage? Do you have any tips? Please tell us in the comments!

amazon, modern no nonsense guide to paleoAre you struggling to sustain a paleo lifestyle change? Or not sure how to start? Or perhaps those around you are resistant and you're feeling undermined and unsure. The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo provides practical tools to ease the transition to a full-on paleo life. Each chapter includes strategies, tips and checklists to identify the actions to power you on your paleo journey and create sustainable change. Buy it at Amazon.com.

Written by 

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

SARAH April 18, 2012 at 7:58 pm

WOW! What a difference this has made to my journey. I have been experimenting for a couple of months having started with giving up sugar (successfully, not a sweet tooth so wasn’t really hard) and ending up going paleo. My husband and teenage children are not very supportive however but this article has given me a different mind frame and it seems to have made a difference with them as well. They’re still eating sugar and grains but not complaining about anything I cook anymore (they even liked my home made tomato ketchup). Maybe the loss of 5 kilos helped as well!! Only 16 kilos to go…


Alison Golden April 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I’m so glad this made a difference Sarah! No complaints is huge. Sounds like they’re going through the transition slowly but surely and good luck on that weight loss. 5kgs is significant and bringing your family along will only help you lose more. Have a great time over there is Oz! :-)


Leslie May 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Thans for writing this. I went paleo over a year go, at first to lose weight and after I found I felt so incredible (I’m late 50s and no more achey joints, have the agility of a 20 year old, and feel wonderful), and my skin cleared up after 50 years of acne, rosacea, keratosis, and mystery rashes, there was no going back: this was *worth* it. And lost the weight, and look amazing–not going to be modest about it … I’m thrilled about the results. So, my husband keeps asking when I’m going to eat normal again. Will not *let* me prepare bone broths because he doesn’t like the smell of food cooking in the house (!!), complains that we can’t go anywhere normal (that word again) for dinner even though I point out every restaurant on the planet serves salad, even Subway, refuses to read the books I have that detail the science behind the physiological benefits, and emails me links to articles criticizing no-gluten, no-dairy etc. Even when I tell him that eating these things makes me ill, he tells me it’s the diet that has caused this to happen and if I just eat normal again, then bread and yogurt and corn etc won’t bother me. In my heart I see this as not respecting I’m doing what I feel is best for me, but he sees it as being inconsiderate of his wishes. It’s heartening to read that patience may brong him onboard. I hope so, because I know this can benefit him in so many ways healthwise.


Alison Golden May 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm

You’re very welcome, Leslie. You can check out this post that I wrote:

12 Sneaky Ways to Convert Someone to Paleo

Thanks for your comment. I’m so glad you feel so much better, crossed fingers your husband gets on board soon.
Alison Golden recently posted..My Battle With High Cholesterol and What I’m Doing About ItMy Profile


Alison Golden May 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm

BTW, Leslie, I hate bone broth smells and cooking smells too so I can sympathize with him on that one. I light candles all around the house. Apparently it takes some of the smell away. Also I open the windows but depending on the weather you might want to make sure you’re not swapping one problem (smell) for another (cold.) :-)
Alison Golden recently posted..My Battle With High Cholesterol and What I’m Doing About ItMy Profile


Laura July 11, 2012 at 9:06 am

I don’t know if this is too late to do any good, but I swear by my pressure cooker for making bone broth. I got a really nice plug-in one (like a crockpot on steroids) for christmas, and it is hands-down my favorite appliance. It’s great for bone broth for two reasons – it works really fast, so one day of cooking makes an incredibly rich broth, you don’t have to leave it overnight like I used to. Also, because it keeps the steam in, there is barely any smell, less even than you get just using the microwave. I also use it all the time for regular cooking too, it does a great job on meats, and rice if you swing that way. If it fits in your budget, I would say that an electric pressure cooker is an awesome choice.


Sandy June 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm

This is golden. I am going to employ several of these ideas with my kids. Two of them are vegetarian, so you can imagine all the different meals/dishes that show up on our table on a daily basis. Just making room for all the non-paleo in the pantry is a big job, mostly an emotional one, as I would rather just get rid of them and not have to ‘eat around them’. The things you’ve posted here are all good things to know/remember about relationships, boundaries and respect whether the subject is healthy eating, finances, religion, politics or any other potential conflict. Love your blog! Thank you so much.


sizzle July 11, 2012 at 8:34 am

This is so helpful! I am living with and engaged to a carb-aholic. He thinks life without pizza and bagels is no life worth living. He is supportive of my paleo lifestyle though and eats the paleo meals I make him. I have enabled his way of eating though since I do all the shopping. I get him some frozen dinners from the store that he likes on the nights I am not home to cook (he isn’t good in the kitchen/has no interest). If I don’t do that, he’ll eat fast food. He says he eats healthier with me than he’s ever eaten in his life. Baby steps! I’m just trying to work on the part where I accept where he is at and focus on my own journey.


Maren July 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

I have been gradually eating more and more paleo for the past six months (ironically difficult because I am a chef who works long hours responsible for making food I can’t/don’t eat), and I am now doing my first Whole30. I live with one of my best friends and shortly we are moving into a house that he and his partner are buying. We often cook dinner together, and a couple of months ago, their dinners would usually include pasta or bread or some kind of grotesque dessert which I would always politely decline, whereas I would prepare lots of protein and vegetables when it was my turn to cook. But just in the past couple of weeks, the guys have really become supportive and have reported feeling so much better because I am leading the way in encouraging high-quality protein and vegetables, and making something delicious with fruit if we are feeling desserty. They now initiate dinner conversations by asking me for cooking advice, what I can eat, etc, and no longer deplete my willpower by offering things I formerly loved (roommate makes a WICKED pasta carbonara, alas!).

It really is all about leading by example, baby steps, and asking that your food choices be respected. Thanks for a great post!


Kay Pease July 11, 2012 at 11:28 am

I very recently started to eat Paleo, and not only is my husband not Paleo, he’s a vegetarian. He’s very supportive, as I began this lifestyle to improve my health, and hopefully improve my fertility (we’ve been trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully for a few years now, and I’d really rather not take drugs if I can at all help it.) He’s making some adjustments, too- he’s stopped eating wheat, and now eats a gluten-free buckwheat bread that I make at home. As he is veggie for ethical reasons, I don’t see him jumping over to Paleo, although anything is possible, I suppose. But from recent conversations, it sounds like he thinks this diet change is temporary- just so I can get pregnant. I don’t think it has sunk in that I’m not going to eat wheat ever again. (The more I read, the more it scares me, frankly.) And that I’m going to continue to buy grass fed beef and local pastured chicken eggs from a farm the next town over. We need to make good health part of the budget, even if it is a little more expensive. I know I need to be patient, so this was a good article to read. Thanks!


Laura July 11, 2012 at 11:47 am

This is a great post! I’ve been paleo for over 4 months now and feel great. It was rough in the beginning with carb withdrawal “brain fog” or “carb flu”, and meal planning became more challenging, but soon I got into the swing of things and now it’s no problem. I have a non-paleo spouse and 2 kids. One of the kids is buying into the paleo about 80% of the time because she saw that lowering her grain intake made her eczema and asthma better. I do get comments from the spouse about my lifestyle change. He actually likes the food, but doesn’t see why I won’t just eat pizza and call it dinner like the rest of the family does. He is annoyed that I won’t buy cookies, frozen breakfast foods, etc., anymore and complained that he had to buy them himself if he wants them. I patiently explained that I’d prefer that the kids eat my coconut flour pancakes that they love. I didn’t make any comments about what he chooses to eat. All I say is, I feel better and our child’s eczema and asthma are better. I’m choosing to live by example rather than making a big deal about “I don’t eat this” or “I don’t eat that”. I doubt if he’ll change, but who knows. At least I can educate the kids so they can make informed decisions. It’s heartening to hear of other people who are dealing with the same issues.


Ellen July 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Hi All. I’ve just found this site and was delighted with this clear, concise and helpful article. I went gluten free about a year ago and paleo about 4 months ago. Shall I gush? I’m 63 and I now have my 30 year old body back, not to mention my 30 year old energy back. I caused a riot in my doctor’s office when I showed up having dropped my post menopausal 12 pound gain in 2 months. I lectured on paleo and I can’t wait to go back and see if anyone bit. My husband is only paleo by accident. He occasionally eats bread and he does like his wine with dinner but I do a lot of the cooking and the shopping so…he’s mostly paleo. I did like this article very much, though. I’m always tempted to lecture him and I bite my tongue. You’ve reminded me to be patient and that was helpful. I want to get him off his blood pressure meds and his cholesterol meds (which he SWORE he’d never take but….). My blood pressure is now back at 117/69, which impressed my doctor. I’m eager to see what my cholesterol is, having added back red meat to my diet after a 43 year lapse. We eat lots of veggies and lots of meats and fruit. It’s not hard once you get used to it and I’m really enjoying creating new recipes.


Val July 13, 2012 at 12:35 am

Thank you so much for that advice! I get so frustrated when my boyfriend goes to fast food restaurants, buys us sports drinks on the way to the dojo or proudly brings home half a kilo of cookie dough vanilla ice cream… He loves the meals at home and praises my cooking every day which is great, yet he’s convinced I have an eating disorder. That last part is what disturbs me most though. Nutrition has actually become quite a tense subject at home. Anyway, you’ve convinced me to leave him be. Respect has to go both ways after all.


Frank July 14, 2012 at 8:39 am

Great article.

When I first discovered the Paleo Diet and more specifically the Primal Blueprint I was so excited that I jumped in with both feet… without telling my wife first. I think I got kind of preachy, which in combination with the carb flu that I was going through made me kind of difficult to live with.

We have moved past that phase, but I dont ever see her coming around to it, mainly given those first 6 months of my paleo/primal honeymoon.


Alison Golden July 23, 2012 at 4:21 am

We’ve all been there, Frank. You might be surprised. But then again, maybe not. The main thing is you focus on you. You’ll achieve more as a leader than a preacher. :-)
Alison Golden recently posted..13 Simple Tips to Paleo Your Way Out of a CrisisMy Profile


Veer July 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I love this post.
I do the shopping, cooking and filling of our lunchboxes. Daily chances to win him over with nice combo’s. My diet choices evolved the last 4 years from low carb to primal. His reaction to primal is different from mine. Might be there are more things important here. For me it is fantastic, he seems to have less stress reactions on grains and dairy. Me the cavewoman, him the farmers attitude. So no reason I think to keep him from those items, just myself. And when I bake, I bake with grains which affect me less.
My cooking skills are improving, but the occasional failure is bound to happen. He just accepts that. Still pains me if he doesn’t like the taste of some vegs.


Stacy August 23, 2012 at 10:12 am

I’ve been eating paleo for 2+ years. (That’s right, more than two.) Not only does my husband still consider my diet “crazy,” my oldest daughter has become a vegetarian. I’ve given up trying to convert them, even though my husband’s cholesterol is so high, his blood is practically a solid.

I’m currently trying to get my husband to release the reigns on the grocery shopping (and cooking). This is week one. We have twice the groceries we need because he “forgot” I already did the shopping. (Even though I visited three stores and he texted me four times with items that were left off the list.)
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Alison Golden August 25, 2012 at 6:28 am

Keep calm and carry on, Stacy. :-) Keep up the good work!
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Patricia December 23, 2012 at 11:45 am

Thank you! I just sent you an email asking for this after stumbling across you site. This is exactly what I need to help get me through the next few months of my transition and new life.
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Angela January 4, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Thanks for sharing. Dealing with my spouse has been the hardest part of the journey. It’s so incredibly frustrating. Glad I found this!


Amy Ayers January 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm

This is some really great advice. I’m the only Paleo eater in a non-Paleo household (I live with my husband and 2 children). Meal times can sometimes be very difficult because they won’t always eat what I eat. And they can take a while to cook on some days. For instance….I love roasting my veggies in the oven. My kids are not always fans of this method, so I may steam them cauliflower and broccoli. Yes, I know this creates more dishes for me at the end of the day, but it does result in the kids actually eating their veggies.

It does get frustrating at times, but I’ll take your advice to heart and just wait it out. Eventually (hopefully) they’ll all come around.


Martin February 3, 2013 at 6:15 am

My wife calls my eating habits a disorder, which is even more difficult as looking at the comments I seem to be the only male with this problem
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Darcie March 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

My challenge at the moment is that I’m the boy who cried wolf and my husband has lost patience with my endless new diets. Granted they have all been in pursuit of better health, and you could consider it one long diet re-do with various iterations as I learn more and refocus my efforts. Sometimes I’m just off the wagon for a very long time ;-p He just doesn’t think the changes will be permanent this time around and would rather wait it out! I find it hard to stay motivated when there isn’t necessarily a measurable, tangible reward, like obvious reduction in specific symptoms. But this time I’ve decided to go gluten-free, at minimum, forever, regardless of whether I see any health improvements in the short term because I know it is best for my long term health. I am hoping that eating less grains and gluten will make a tangible difference for my husband (e.g. losing weight, more energy), and that will help him get on board.


Alison Golden March 28, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Hi Darcie:

Focus on you. He may join you, he may not. That’s life. Also read: http://paleononpaleo.com/paleo-spouse-husband-convert/
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Charles May 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm

4 years into Paleo now, and I see my wife and I diverging more and more. My love for exercise has become a passion for body building. Nutrition and great sleep are my fuel, but it is more and more at odds with my wife. She was glad to see me lose the weight, I was 70lbs tubby. But now we’ve flip flopped, I am in better shape than ever, while I swear she is aging at twice the rate. Her idea of a healthy breakfast is diet coke and low fat freezer breakfast sandwich. I thought at some point she would get it, I am the proof right in front of her that Paleo works! But after 4 years I’m realizing there is no closing this gap, it just gets wider. Is this what ends marriages??


Courtney August 28, 2013 at 5:22 am

Thank you for this. I really needed this right now!


Gabriella August 28, 2013 at 6:01 am

Haha @ 20!!! Spoken like a true mother!! That is how I get rid of potato chips, chocolates, pancakes, u name it!!


Hilda February 23, 2014 at 8:05 am

This article is simply fantastic!!! Just what I needed. It’s awesome tjat many of these points can be applied for problems other than eating. I loved your wisdom and thank you thank you thank you!!!


Robyn April 4, 2014 at 8:47 am

Hi! I haven’t yet begun the complete paleo lifestyle but am trying to slowly change my habits, first cutting out some sugar. I love your point to, State The Obvious! It is nice to know that its not just my husband that needs this. I know he isn’t intentionally sabotaging but it is hard not to get a bit angry sometimes. I told him no desserts in the house and he still asks me if I want him to make cookies or to bring home ice cream. I guess I need to drive it home with more gusto for both myself and him. Thanks again for this list!


Alison Golden September 5, 2014 at 11:45 am

Trust me, Robyn, it is definitely not just your husband that needs this. :-)
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Chris September 1, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I find this article helpful and interesting. Great work and thank you for sharing!
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Cari September 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm

What a great post! I definitely found lots to reflect on and inspiration on how to live peacefully with my non paleo husband. I’ve been paleo 1 1/2 years, and he has made a few, healthier changes, but still insists that he (and anyone ‘normal’) could never eat this way. I still get asked “Where’s the bread?” every week! I need to practice #5 and #6.
Thank you!


Sweenie October 28, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Thanks for this post!

I’ve been eating paleo on and off for about two years. I live with my husband (non-paleo) and I did very well at staying on track for the first few months. He chips away constantly, though, and I end up caving more than I’d like. I’m currently trying to get back into a strict paleo routine and when I said so his immediate response was: “we should check out this burger joint because we all know you’ll start eating burgers again soon.” When I say that he’s trying to undermine my efforts, he gets upset and says I’m overreacting: “never eating gluten again is unrealistic” and “won’t kill me.” It’s tough. I keep calm and (try my best to) carry on.


Alison Golden October 28, 2014 at 6:55 pm


One phrase I learned to deal with kids is to say calmly and clearly, “Please don’t talk to me that way, I don’t like it” THEN WALK AWAY. Works every time. You could try a variation on that with anyone who undermines you like this. Something like, “I feel undermined when you talk to me like that. I don’t like it.” The key is then to disengage by walking away.


Sweenie October 29, 2014 at 11:59 am

Thanks for the advice, Alison! I’ll give that a try next time :)


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