9 Tricks for Getting Your Picky Eater Husband to Eat Dinner

picky eater

You want to lose weight and eat healthier. You're excited to make the changes you know you need to make. There is just one thing standing in your way. Actually, he may be standing in front of the fridge right now, grumbling about what he sees in there. It's your husband. Many of us have picky eater kids on our hands -- but some are lucky enough to have picky eater husbands too.

I hear it all the time: Women try to cook a wide variety of healthy meals for their family. But when dads resist new foods too, it makes it a lot harder to convince the kids to stop being so picky. How do you get Mr. Meat-and-Potatoes to be a more adventurous eater?

"Men really are actively interested in improving their health through nutrition," says clinical nutrition educator Clea Shannon. "They just need to know it's going to taste good." Okay ... easier said than done? Here are some expert tips on how you can seduce the finicky man in your life to try new foods.


picky eater

1. No food-shaming allowed. This is one of the first rules when you're trying to help someone change their eating habits. "Don't make your husband or boyfriend feel bad about what they DO want to eat," says health coach Melissa Danielle. "They will shut down even more."

2. Don't say "no" to his favorites. That won't work and isn't what this is all about -- it's about saying "yes" to new foods or foods he doesn't normally go for. "I never tell people to stop eating certain foods," Danielle says. "I just tell them to add to their favorite foods. So have that steak, but have some peas on the side too."

3. Mix vegetables into foods he already loves. Both Danielle and Shannon recommend doing this: Put spinach in a colander and pour your hot pasta and water over it. Toss together with sauce and the spinach is perfectly cooked. Shred zucchini or other veggies with potatoes or into batter to make fritters or pancakes. Mix sweet potato or cauliflower into mashed potatoes. Make green smoothies with frozen pineapple -- so sweet.

"I've never seen anyone complain about spinach or kale in mac and cheese -- I've never seen anyone say no to it!" says Danielle. Shannon has enticed big meat eaters with her vegan Squash Street Tacos. "They have their doubts at first. But then they try it, and they tell me they love those tacos."

4. Get away from the foods he knew as a child. "Some people have negative memories about certain foods," Danielle says. "They remember canned and overcooked vegetables from their childhood. If it's about that, say, 'Let's imagine vegetables a different way.'"

5. OR: Get back to the foods he knew as a child. On the other hand, maybe he has positive memories? "Ask about flavors and foods from his childhood that he really liked," Shannon suggests. "What did your grandparents cook for you? Sometimes it's when you go back two generations that you find there was more home cooking with fresh, seasonal ingredients."

6. Go for the sweeter vegetables. "Start with root vegetables," Shannon recommends. That means carrots, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes. "Roast them to bring out the natural sugars and caramelize them." This is a great way to introduce some less-familiar foods to your family. 

7. Grow some herbs or vegetables of your own. "If you have the space, grow some herbs and vegetables," Shannon says. "It's a great way to change up flavors and get people to expand beyond their normal palates."

More from The Stir: 6 of the Best Vegetables to Grown in Your Kitchen

8. Get him involved in the grocery shopping. "When families shop together, it puts people on the front lines and exposes them to so many other tastes," Shannon says. "It's easy to get into a rut if you have one person doing all the shopping." Shannon loves the home management app Cozi, which includes a grocery list everyone in the family can add items to.

9. Remember, sometimes picky eating is about control. "Our relationship with food goes way beyond needing to eat for health and energy. It has emotional ties," says Danielle. "For a lot of people, food is the last thing in their lives that they have control over." She suggests talking with your partner about his feelings about food, if he's willing to open up.

"It may be hard to admit that they feel powerless in their life in a certain way, and that food is the one place where they have control," she says. This is why getting men to collaborate on shopping lists, as well as meal planning and cooking, helps. Who knows, your husband may end up taking over in the kitchen altogether. Wouldn't you love that!

How does your husband or partner feel about trying new dishes?


Images © iStock.com/katarzyaBialaziewicz © iStock.com/MinervaStudio

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