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5 Ways to Ensure a Healthy (& Nutritious) Relationship

By: Whitney Stuart

Whitney Stuart MCN, RDN, is a board-certified dietitian-nutritionist, diabetic educator and award-winning Whole30 Certified Coach. She holds a “real food first” approach through her holistic practice, Whitness Nutrition, which offers full spectrum nutritional assessment, corporate wellness challenges and seminars. Here, she offers her tips for a healthier, more nutritious relationship.

I attempted many different approaches in navigating healthy relationships in the past. Dating as a dietitian was hard. The normal commentary made on your salad, your early-morning workout, or desire for a sober evening? Intensify that by ten in the dating realm. How do you even find, create, and then sustain a healthy relationship? 

Failed Attempt #1

First, I tried the closet healthy version. I would make healthy eating choices, in the way I preferred, but when it came to date night, I dropped all my standards. I would order the special, the massive burger and fries, or the spaghetti. There’s nothing wrong with these options, but they certainly weren’t my preferred choice. I didn’t talk about my eating preferences, my food allergies, or my healthy lifestyle. I overcompensated for what I thought looked normal. And I usually ended up dealing with the digestive issues post-date from the dramatic shift in diet. Plus, was I attracting the type of person who shared by same values? Negative.

Failed Attempt #2

Then, I played the health commander! I only dated individuals who I believed valued their health. To my 22-year-old self, that meant working out excessively, sharing an egg white spinach omelet, and shopping for athleisure. (Yes, I did actually meet most of them at the gym, on the stair stepper, how did you know?) But then I found myself alternatively stuffing my face with carbs and sugar when I wasn’t with them. I had swung in the absolute other direction where deprivation bubbled up.

The Key: Patience and Honesty

Finally, after almost a decade of dating, I found my human and identified the silver bullet to a healthy relationship with an accompanying healthy body. My Chef Boyardee- and Rotel-loving husband didn’t know how to boil rice let alone braise a pork loin in 2009. After dating a slew of body builders and burger mongers, I found a patient and honest heart – the foundational qualities for a healthy relationship. The journey has been long and filled with trashed quinoa bowls, tears over bad beet cupcakes and the, “Eek, that’s the worst gluten-free muffin!” recipes, but we cook a mean plant-centered allergen-friendly meal thrice weekly these days. 

Save yourself from the mistakes I made and use the following tips to ensure you’re headed straight into a delicious lifestyle – together! I have to give credit where it’s due: these tips have been compromised by both members of Team Stuart.

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healthy relationship

There's a Mutual Goal of Health

In my past (failed) dating endeavors, it was notable that the individual didn’t share my same goal. And much of what I initially wanted was based on a shallow exterior of health. A healthy exterior does not guarantee a happy interior. Now I know the importance of prioritizing inner health and it’s associated healthy glow that shines through. Prioritize a healthy lifestyle over washboard abs; but that’s not to say you can’t have both!

It Takes Work and Time

Okay, I already said this, but I mean it! I made a vegan quinoa black bean dinner entrée early on in “Project Healthy Body” and it was just too drastic of a change from our usual chicken and baked potato entrée. Take your time with transition. One new item a week? Perfect! Keep the OG favorites on rotation. You’ll be able to slow down on their frequency as new foods are added to the mix.

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Get Them Involved

The year before our wedding was focused on improving our skills in the kitchen. From taking cooking classes to signing up for meal subscriptions and hosting hands-on dinner parties, we kept it interesting! My husband learned to enjoy cooking in a relaxed, no-fail atmosphere with plenty of visuals, resources, a good playlist, and plenty of ways he could personalize the dishes. Now, I can’t get him out of the kitchen. 

Get Saucy

Cooking can be sexy, but you have to spice it up! Literally. Avoid chicken and broccoli burnout from using plain ol’ salt and pepper. Get busy in the spice drawer! The best investment we ever made? Magnetic spice jars that stick to the wall above our meal preparation station, as well as a subscription to Primal Palate’s spices for creative mixes for all cuisines. 

Remember to Compromise

Last but not least, I can’t stress how important it is to avoid rigidity in your diet. To really inspire and motivate others to live healthfully, you can’t let your routine be associated with stress and deprivation. Do we eat a perfectly balanced meal with kale and wild-caught salmon every night? Nope. Am I still thriving? Yes. Embrace the 80/20. Especially if your counterpart cooked it. Following a perfect macro split derived from intense calorie counting took a toll on our relationship in the early years. Now I’m comfortable saying “yes!” to gelato after dinner. Not only does my husband love the fact he has a wife he can take on ice cream dates, but it shows that I’m open to enjoying life, his spontaneity, and nixing that deprivation diet mentality.

At the end of the day, consider the benefits of sustainable healthy actions and how they motivate, drive, and empower your best relationship. It isn’t about perfection but consistent progress and growth. That’s only possible through candid communication. Yes, even when it means you have to divulge your disdain for sweet potatoes. Take the risk and grow together!

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