ASK A TRAINER: How Can I Handle my Paleo-Freak Husband?

zzzzzzzz lift and bitch 033Dear Fitbabe,

My husband has been eating “paleo” since he joined a CrossFit gym in June. Suddenly all grains, dairy products, sugar, and even alcohol have been “banned” from our house. He won’t let our kids eat their favourite cereals, or any other treats unless they are “paleo” approved. I basically have to sneak around and hide food from him. He makes me feel ashamed—as if I am killing my children—if they have some toast or spaghetti for dinner. I have begun to bake everything with coconut or almond flour; he has now even started to put up a fight about us going trick or treating on Halloween. I am at my wits end. I can’t reason with him. He wants us all on board but we are not happy with his new lifestyle. What do you think I should do?

From, Debbie, soon to be divorced!

Hello Debbie,

I think this kind of food “shaming” is happening to many people. I have some clients whose friends are mortified both by what they eat (i.e. gluten, even when they are not celiac) and do not eat, namely grass-fed beef and local, organic produce. There are so many terms and catch phrases: paleo, Atkins, gluten free, keto, vegan, and so on.

The situation you describe must be putting a terrible strain on your marriage. I understand the tension that occurs when one spouse has decided to get healthy and the other feels left out, but your case seems to be a little extreme. I am not a therapist, and you may want to consult a mediating third party in your efforts to communicate with your husband. In fact I highly recommend that you seek professional help, especially if you are ready to leave your husband.You may also want to try to meet him half way, perhaps by offering the children more healthy treats here and there. If your husband does not wish to eat non-paleo foods, then he does not have to eat them. That doesn’t mean that you can’t! I certainly don’t like it when someone attempts to force me to change who I am in order for them to feel better about themselves. I dieted for two Figure shows while in a relationship during which my partner ate whatever he wanted. I did not encourage him to eat like I did during my competition prep, because it was my choice to compete.

Like many diets, this one may fade out, probably sooner rather than later. When a diet excludes whole food groups and has a cult-like following it is not sustainable for the long term. There is room for a variety of foods in any diet. I know top-level athletes who adhere to a tight diet most of the time, but make room for IHOP pancakes and ice cream on the odd Saturday. Is your husband exclusively eating paleo foods because of his new gym peers? If he grew up on traditional foods, and has lived a healthy balanced lifestyle, he may soon discover that he misses some of his old foods, most likely during the holiday season when delicious gingerbread cookies flood the office. 🙂

I hope my answer has brought you some clarity.

Warm Hugs,   Fitbabe

Deanna Harder: Fitness Leadership Diploma, CSEP-CPT (Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology-Certified Personal Trainer), and Figure Competitor

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About fitbabe

Deanna Harder is a college-certified, highly knowledgeable personal trainer, with over ten years of experience. In addition to running her own business in Edmonton, she has competed in four figure competitions, and is always stage ready. Fitness Leadership Diploma, CSEP-CPT (Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology-Certified Personal Trainer)

7 thoughts on “ASK A TRAINER: How Can I Handle my Paleo-Freak Husband?

  1. Thanks Babyeaterlifts….I can’t even tell you how many women have come to me wanting me to train them whilst eating a new fad diet..HCG, Bernstein, Jenny, ect. I do like some of the ancestral eating methodologies, like eating whole foods vs processed foods, but some Paleo followers take it to the extreme. I do not like it when people exclude whole food groups because they are deemed evil…lol!

  2. Great response – I have lots of friends who have tried paleo, so of course am curious, but still can’t abide the thought of cutting out whole food groups like grains. Or wine. But in all honesty, I think you addressed the stress of the situation very well.

  3. I was appreciating your response to poor Debbie, until you got to the part where you said this about the Paleo diet: “Like many diets, this one may fade out, probably sooner rather than later. When a diet excludes whole food groups and has a cult-like following it is not sustainable for the long term.” I’ve been eating Paleo for five years and it completely overhauled my health and life for the better. It shows no signs of fading out and has in fact become a viable way of eating for millions of people. I don’t care if you or anyone else eats that way, but the comment demonstrates how little you know about this serious and science-based approach to food. There are some solid reasons for excluding “whole food groups,” based in genetics and evolutionary biology. If you care to educate yourself about the rationale behind Paleo, there’s a lot of solid information, including scientific research being done all over the world, that you can turn to. Two of the best experts in the field, both research scientists, Dr. Loren Cordain and Robb Wolf, are constantly updating their information and sharing it with others, as new findings become available. In other words, Paleo is not a cult. (And by the way, I have a glass of wine or a beer if I feel like it, and I just ate a piece of Halloween candy and didn’t die.)

    Having said that, I agree that Debbie definitely needs a mediator to intervene with her controlling, fanatic husband, before the kids end up in a joint custody arrangement.

    • I am quite well read in both Dr. Loren Cordain and Robb Wolf,and actually listen to Robb Wolfs podcast. I am with NO CAMP here…it is called the Paleo “diet” by many, I eat a bodybuilder “diet” which is very similar to paleo. The point I was trying to make is that if this man was simply eating this way because of his Crossfit mentors and not because he was finding himself ill while eating non-paleo foods, than I would question his motives. I am so happy that you have found balance in your life, while enjoying foods you love without feeling guilty or like you are cheating if you are not eating paleo or whatever! There are many that can not, actually as a Fitness Professional and Lifestyle Consultant working and listening to people from all walks of life for 18 years, they see things in black and white…DIET mindset or NON-Diet mindset. Cult-like was referring more to the Crossfit madness…and they have designated “Paleo” as their own. I agree Paleo is here to stay, as is the Mediterranean diet, Vegetarian Diet ect ect ect…
      Thanks for the awesome comment!

      • Your clarification that what you were actually referring to is the fanaticism often found in CrossFit will get no argument from me. I noticed it there too. How we eat can never be boiled-down to a one-size-fits-all approach. The black-and-white mentality to which you refer ties people up in knots. If a way of eating is going to be of lasting value, it has to be pleasurable and flexible.

        I don’t feel like I’m cheating when I drink a beer, for two reasons: (1) I’m in charge of my life so there’s nobody to answer to except myself, and (2) 99% of the time I’m not drinking beer, so when I have one, it’s a treat.

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