We both have been at an unhealthy weight the past few years, but over the last 6 months or so have been losing it. I started with a lot of workouts, high-protein but still putting plenty of crap into my body, and counting calories (which was working for me, but was a lot of work) then I switched to Paleo, and since I tend to be the cook, my girlfriend has, for the most part, been doing it with me as well (except sometimes when she leaves the house, it seems).
Anyway, I come home after a weekend away and find a bunch of soda and juice bottles in the recycling. I wake up, she appears to be eating Kashi's version of cinnamon toast crunch (at least it's whole grain?) with some skim milk from a chain grocery.
I cook my natural uncured bacon and local free range eggs and head out.
Is there a book I should ask her to read or something? Her stomach can't handle too much red meat, so I'm trying to not eat grassfed beef every day (though I have plenty of it and probably would if I could). It just bums me out seeing her do this to herself but I'm not one to impose my views on other people.
Such a common issue. So many threads on this topic already, but each has its own spin. Each person has a different and unique scenario to work through.
First of all, great job on speaking up and asking what others think. Sometimes getting multiple perspectives really helps you understand how you can best help the situation for both you and your girlfriend.
I'm all over the comments here already, but I wanted to give my own fresh thoughts.
Is it best to let your loved ones do whatever they want? Does it matter if they are adults? Perhaps throw some comments out and she how she responds? Perhaps drop clues and hints and try to nudge her into more acute awareness of how her decisions may not be best for long term health? Is the 'heavy hand' approach applicable here? Is that too controlling? What if she feels judged?
When a person feels the need to give a loved one some advice, it can often be one of the most challenging and just downright difficult situations to work through. I think at the base of this is the human nature of feeling judged and controlled, combined with the need that most people have to feel accepted and to be heard. This can span across so many things that it's dizzying.
I have several of these type of scenarios going on in my life right now. How do I tell me mother-in-law that I don't want to eat the food she wants to cook for us? With some of the things she grew up eating... she thinks is good because well... "I'm still alive". is what she says. It's sort of a long term battle at the moment, but progess is being made all around. She is in our life forever, so we are choosing to massage the situation slowly, leading by example, showing her through continued practice that we do actually have some good insight to offer and that we're serious about it. Slowly but surely, she is beginning to understand.
When it comes to personal matters, it gets pretty dicey, which is most of the time. The topics that seem to spark the most controversy are religion, politics, sex, family, finance, and health.
In your case, I think you just care. I think you really love your girlfriend and want to continue to build a long term relationship, else it wouldn't make a lick of sense for you to come on here and seek help in this way. You'd have already 'dumped her' like Quilt says.
Badgering and pestering people almost never works, even with close family and friends. It violates too many aspects of human nature and people skills. Ever heard of the little ol' saying... "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."? Being judgemental or harsh with your approach also usually does not work, and can breed comtempt and jeopordize trust in the relationship. We are such tricky beings, us humans.
Personally, I have watched some of my closest people destroy their own health out of either ignorance, intentional poor decisions, or a combination of both. It's awful. It's awful enough to maybe make a person do something drastic out of love, like what Quilt describes.
Dakota - there's a lot of meat here to chew on from this community. I think leading by example, and explaining your concerns to her in an open, honest communicative way using whatever people skills you can muster will be your best approach. Then just keep the goal in mind and don't be dogmatic about what you think is best for her health. If, in all your efforts, you are seeing a bleak and discouraging road ahead of you, then you truly may want to consider the long term implications of a committed relationship when you believe that you may be at odds with each other on one of the key elements of daily life, health and wellness.
Chill. She's an adult who can make her own food choices and it's really not your job at all to try and control that or police what she's eating. Just because you've gone paleo doesn't mean your girlfriend is obligated to as well...not sure why you feel that way. It sounds from your post like she never really explicitly decided to do paleo, just that she goes along with you when you're around. Given that I'm not sure why you're disappointed with her. You might see it as "I'm helping her get healthy" but she's more than likely going to see "my boyfriend is being an overbearing asshole". If she doesn't want to change, she won't. She'll just resent you.
Maybe this sounds a little harsh but I'm not trying to rip on you. I'm just trying to put myself in your girlfriend's shoes and imagine how I would feel if my boyfriend didn't "approve" of what I was eating, no matter how good his intentions were.
My wife will not go Paleo, but since I cook she eats grass fed meats, lots of veggies and fish which she loves. But there are days when she wants rice or some type of pasta to go with what I make she makes that. She makes extra and reheats it a couple times a week. It keeps her happy, when we go out for dinner or travel she makes sure that I can eat Paleo as much as possible. We always try to respect each others needs, might be why we are married 32 years and are very happy. You need to ask yourself are you happy and is she happy. If you both are except for Paleo work with each other not against. A great other half is hard to find.
One of the most difficult things a couple can go through is change, but the difficult part is if you don't change together. Let me start out by saying what not to do. Do not pressure, insult, or harass her for not eating the way you do. This is a sure fire way to put a wedge in between your relationship. Food, like politics and religion, is a very personal issue and should be treated as such.
I suggested first lead by example. She will see you drop the weight and feel better quickly and that may be a enough to approach you for help, instead of you pushing it on her. Second, offer to do the cooking. I'm not sure how good of a cook you are, but I started doing all the cooking in my house, for everyone. I now wake up 15 minutes earlier and cook my wife and 2 sons eggs, bacon and some fruit in the morning before we are of to work and school. I pack all of their lunches and cook most of the dinners. Maybe try waking up one day earlier than her a cook her a nice breakfast in bed. Lastly, be encouraging. I'm not sure how your girlfriend is but my wife likes to hear encouraging words when she makes good choices. We as humans tend to focus to much on the negative and forget the positive.
Good luck it is certainly not an easy thing to tackle.
If she's not ready, she's not ready. Lead by example, keep cooking meals, and she may eventually notice the difference in how she feels. If it really matters to you, let her know that you are afraid that if you make this change without her it will eventually drive you apart. It doesn't have to drive you apart though. My husband doesn't do paleo and I don't try to push it on him, his family seems to be able to tolerate the SAD, and live to be quite old and healthy. He does however eat paleo by default at home most of the time because I've taken over the shopping and cooking. I think I did a little too much eye rolling and lecturing when we'd go grocery shopping together. We had A LOT of friction over this until I learned: don't lecture, just do.
After a lifetime of eating crap food, she may not internally be equipped with right gut flora to go straight into a paleo diet. "Needing" all that sugary stuff makes me think that systemic candida could be an issue, and even if she wanted to she would have a hard time avoiding sugar. Get some high quality probiotics and natural soil organisms into that girl pronto. It took me a full two months with some really high quality probiotics, but those little voices that "made" me buy donuts just went away one day, and it has been so quiet inside my head ever since. She may also have low stomach acid if she can't tolerate much red meat. When she is ready you could start seeing a paleo friendly nutritionist as a couple. It is amazing how much more receptive partners can be to info when it comes from someone outside the relationship.
After being married for 10 years, I can say that sometimes one of the hardest people to take advice from is your SO / spouse, when ironically they're often the best person to give you advice.
Let's just say that I would put relationship harmony ahead of dietary perfection in terms of priorities :-). People have to be in a certain frame of mind in order to take on the challenge of changing their diet and exercise patterns, and trying to hit someone with what might be good suggestions at the wrong time is not likely to get anywhere.
If she's open to learning more about it, you could bring it up as a way to inform her rather than criticize. If she isn't really interested... you might just impress her with your own improvements and see if she catches on.
To answer your question "How do keep from feeling upset...."
I would say that it's natural for you to have feelings, bad or good, about your partner and her choices. But I'd also say that your feelings about how she eats are not her problem - your feelings=your problem.
On the other hand, if you feel upset and then act like a jerk to her, that becomes her problem. So don't act like a jerk! (And if you haven't already been kind of a jerk by bugging her about this stuff- don't start!)
Can you focus on your own stuff and let her focus on her own stuff?
Or is her eating differently from you a dealbreaker? What if she stays overweight forever? Is that a dealbreaker? If it's not, you better figure out a way to let her live her life without making your feelings her problem.
You say you're overweight yourself - if your experience is anything like mine, I'm guessing that having people on your case about your "health" wasn't too motivating. People don't change until they're ready to change.
I used to smoke, and my boyfriend at the time used to nag me insistently about it, and all it did was create resentment. I knew it wasn't healthy habit - as it happens, I'm a pretty smart cookie - but at the end of the day, all he managed to do was make me feel incapable of making healthy decisions for myself. That I needed to have my hand held. I understand that he was concerned for my health, I appreciated the concern, but his methods were found lacking.
As it happens, I did quit, by myself, after I ended my relationship with him (and not just because of the whole smoking thing, I assure you). I did it because I wanted to, not to appease someone else. That makes a world of difference.
Ultimately, no one here can give you THE foolproof way to handle this little roadbump. After all, we're not the ones who have to deal with the consequences, and we're not her. Nor do we know her. At best, I can say to just keep eating the way you're eating, and when she gets curious, answer her questions, or slip a book or URL her way. Don't let it eat away at you. While her decisions may frustrate you, that doesn't change the fact that it's ultimately her problem, and not yours. Other people here have said it, but it's worth repeating: you can't help her if she's not willing to help herself.
One of the more romantic realms of human life involves shared activities centered on food - growing it, harvesting it, hunting it, fishing for it, preparing it, cooking it, eating it, digesting it, even shopping can be an intimate experience. Try to find foods (WITHIN Paleo parameters) you can BOTH agree on. There are probably elements of the Paleo experience that she can indulge in and relish with the same fervor as you do!
So just sit down together, let her know you want to spoil her more often. Then, start to do more to make dining together a more romantic, mutually shared experience. Design a menu TOGETHER.
From there, take it a step further. Give her full body massages after meals as you rest and digest. Be spontaneous with your rewards but center the romance on the intimate experience that can be achieved through your connection with the extravagant offerings of the Earth.
Conversely, if you look at your diet as some sort of limitation, so will she. Paleo removes 2 food groups - true. But your choices from there are unlimited. Look at the diet as an opportunity for growth, revival, EVOLUTION and delicious taste.
You can learn to cook Paleo meals together and do everything from shopping for the elusive primal ingredients to licking clean her last spoonful.
The Paleo Diet is rich, flavorful and romantic.
Put your PALEO SWAGGER into it and you can make it that way for yourself and for HER.
(DISCLAIMER: I am highly manipulative but try to reserve these powers for the betterment of humankind).
First, recognize that she is most likely suffering from addictions - society-sanctioned addictions that are very difficult to recognize or imagine life without when you're in the middle of them. When you're in the middle of this, the idea of going paleo can feel like someone is asking you to give up everything that makes life worth living, and that paleo is only for people who really like veggies and liver, or who have more willpower. People in the middle of SAD addiction aren't easily able to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I know that for me, I can look at people saying "I'd love to lose weight/have more energy/get rid of my autoimmune condition/whatever, but I could never give up bread/pastries/rice/peanut butter/sugar!" and think they're totally crazy for preferring to continue in pain than to even try. But when I stop and look back at where I used to be.. if you'd told me a year ago that I'd pass up free cookies and not feel the least bit deprived or regretful about it, I never would have believed you. But it was a series of baby steps that got me here, not a sudden leap.
Things that might help:
Ask her for help with your own diet. Say that you don't want to restrict what she eats, but that having it around the house makes it hard for you, so could she please just eat that stuff out of the house. (This works best if you're sincere about it and the stuff really is a temptation for you - if you're just saying it, it may come across as coercive.)
Focus on one issue at a time. See if she's willing to give gluten-free a try, and don't worry about carbs or other grains for the time being. Have good, appealing gluten-free food around - if it's paleo, all the better, but you might try Puffins cereal or something in place of the Kashi, for example. Look at dessert and treat recipes. Overcoming one hurdle, and learning to think outside the SAD box about food can make the rest seem more realistic.
Then, when she's ready, try dropping the grains and/or legumes. Or the processed food. Or HFCS. Or some other baby step. Or toss it up entirely and eliminate the processed food first, but continue with WAPF-style soaked/sprouted grains for a while. Focus on what she is willing to change, rather than trying to dump it all on her at once.
GAPS and SCD can be less intimidating than full-on paleo.
And, as others have said, just lead by example. Enjoy your improving health without being obnoxious about it. Make yummy paleo meals that you both enjoy. Share info with her if/when she's receptive. Enjoy your life and don't dwell on things you can't control.