Saturday, February 17, 2007

Overworked, underappreciated wives and moms

. . . also potentially occasionally husbands and dads, though I think this issue is less prevalent there.

I'm just going to come out and say that I don't think you should feel you need to cook different food for your husband and/or kids when you are on a diet. My husband--without complaint (he loves what I cook, but he'd also know better than to complain)--eats what I make us: a high-vegetable diet that no longer involves meat when we eat at home. He says what I make is so tasty he'd be a fool not to enjoy it--and I do try to make tasty and unrepetitive dishes--but even if something doesn't come out great, he eats it with the respect that the time I've spent in the kitchen deserves. (Occasionally he'll insist something is worth eating even when I don't want to try it anymore after a couple of unsatisfying bites!)

When we have kids, they'll eat what I cook for all of us. I'm not running myself ragged trying to fix different stuff for different family members, and if they don't like it--well, too bad. Eventually they'll be hungry enough to eat. I won't have a clean-plate club, but I will have a try-everything club. I want any kids I have to learn to be polite eaters who try different foods, and I want them to consider healthy foods tasty and comforting from having a childhood full of them. I want them to realize garlic, cumin, curry powder, and the like are great for making foods desirable without deep-frying, pouring cream over, etc. When I was a chubby kid, I wish my parents had gotten the whole family on a healthier eating plan rather than singling me out--they were chubby, too. Think about it: if you need a diet, even if your husband and/or kids are not yet overweight, chances are that your husband and children are also eating too much fat, too much sugar, etc., and are setting themselves up for a life of obesity and/or illness. Is that what you want for your spouse or kids? Making a healthy lifestyle a family event means no one is singled out and everyone at least has a background of healthy eating to fall back on.

Also, I hate it when I read in a blog that a mom or wife ended up giving in to terrible cravings after she (with guilt or the precursors to it in her heart) made her hubby or kids some other food than what she was eating for a meal. How much energy must that take? To make them another food on top of her food and then get tempted to eat that unhealthy food and try to fight that temptation? Healthy food is healthy for everyone.

I have a strong personality and would not have a problem telling my husband that it's insulting to me for him to expect me to make two types of meals each night. Sometimes I have to say things like that very clearly to my husband ("It really upsets me when you ___ because it makes me feel __"), though luckily he dropped any picky eating issues before I met him, so food is a non-issue. I think it's Dr. Phil who says that people treat us the way we let them know they can treat us. Dr. Phil and I don't always see eye to eye, but I think that statement has some truth; people will sometimes get away with treating you as poorly as you will let them. I think that happens sometimes--probably unconsciously in some cases--where wives are making two meals for one family each night. Husbands who don't understand where I might be coming from need to read The Seven Principles for a Making Marriage Work by John Gottman, a great book. I love the book partly because it holds men responsible for recognizing all the various (often unnoticed) contributions women make to sustaining the marriage. (Wives can use it, too. My husband and I think it was the best marriage book we read for setting up our relationship well and correcting missteps we were making.) My husband and I recommend that book to nearly everyone and give copies to all our engaged friends; that's how much we believe in it!

Women who are either watching kids all day or coming home from work and making dinner deserve respect and appreciation for their efforts, not extra demands. And I really believe healthy works for everyone. Those are my two cents, anyway.


Andrea said...

Jesus H!, you are so SMART and well spoken! Seriously - I love reading your blog. I even cooked kale tonight, an inspiration! (it was good.)

Living to Feel Good said...

I completely agree with you. I feel the same way.

When I first started WW in April 2005 to get ready for my wedding, there was a lady who would sit up front and every week whine about how she had to make a separate meal for her husband and kids because she didn't want them to be on a diet, and she didn't mind making mac and cheese for them. She seriously brought this issue up every week. I would just sit there and think I'm never doing that.

My husband is on the same page as me, and when we have a kid in another year we will be positive role models and continue to eat healthy foods. Sure it's okay to have splurges and eat unhealthy things sometimes, but one thing I will never do it make a separate meal for my kid and for me. We all eat the same, and if they don't like it tough cookies.
Great post today!

celtic_girl said...

I agree with you it's all or nothing. There is a perception sometimes that "diet food" is only eaten when we want to lose weight,when the focus should be on healthier food and portion sizes.

totegirl said...

My hubby hates veggies and my son doesn't eat my cooking either, but they cook for themselves if they don't want what I make. I'm not offended when they don't like what I make, but I do make them at least try everything. Now my son knows he likes tofu and broccoli, so that's cool! But yeah, I'm a wife and mom, not a maid. If they don't like what I buy at the store or cook for dinner, they have to shop for themselves or make thier own food.

Linds said...

AMEN! When we have kids, they will be eating what is on the table. I have a hard enough time cooking one dinner, I am not a restaurant, I will not be making separate meals for everyone!

Great words to live by, and I'll definately be checking out that book!

Harmonia said...

Thanks for visiting my blog...I am going to add you to my bloglines! Great site...keep up the great veggie work and exercise! Congrats on the weightloss!

metamorphose said...

Amen, sistah!!

Hey I tagged you on my blog. Lucky you! *wink wink*

Cory said...

I completely agree with you on that point. I see no point in cooking separate meals for everyone in the house. (Except for occasionally fixing a favorite meal for my hubby when it's something I don't eat.) I think you have a very healthy view on feeding your family. It's important that everyone eats healthy. And if someone has a health problem that affects how they eat, chances are that everyone in the house can eat that way too. There are very few exceptions to that.

KL said...

My mom has instilled something in me called the 'no thank you helping.' When you're out, you must take a no thank you helping and actually try it. I've ended up liking some things I thought I would hate ... like brussels sprouts.
You're doing so great! I have 7 more pounds before I reach my first goal. At that point, I'm getting my hair highlighted. I gave myself a 15 pound first goal ... especially because I had just gained about 10 pounds. That's 5 pounds less than where i should have started. Keep up the good work!

~~Midnight Raider~~ said...

Totally agree. My hubby eats me. But he either eats what I cook, or he makes (and cleans up) his own meal. I won't cook meat, and I won't cook two separate meals.

Sonya said...

Just discovered your blog - I too, am a vegetarian trying to lose some weight.

Love your writing!!!