First, recognize you’re not alone. While all of us could eat better, men fare worse than women. They shun whole grains, tofu, fruit, and vegetables like the plague. They’re also less likely than women to take vitamins supplements.
The most important thing to remember is that his health is ultimately his responsibility, not yours. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment or anger when he ignores your advice, or turns up his nose at your tofu burgers. Eventually he’ll come around, if you:
Set realistic goals. Don’t expect him to go from loving burgers to craving broccoli overnight. The process may take months, years, even decades. So, set mini goals. Some examples: Switch from 2% milk to skim or from regular to low-calorie salad dressing.
Emphasize the positive. Fear will motivate him only short term. Instead of saying French fries will kill him, suggest he try baked sweet-potato fries, because they contain beta-carotene, which reduces cancer risk.
Stock up on healthful foods. Fill the fridge with easy-to-grab, healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit (already cut up), dried fruit, frozen grapes, and whole wheat crackers. Leftovers are a man’s best friend; make sure there’s always a little extra from last night’s nutritious meal.
Make healthy versions of his favorite foods. For example,
o Cheeseburgers: Make small hamburgers using a 50-50 mixture of ground turkey and extra-lean ground sirloin. Top with leaf lettuce, sliced tomatoes, a thin slice of reduced-fat cheddar cheese, and gourmet mustard, and serve on a whole-grain bun.
o Mashed Potatoes: Substitute skim milk for whole and use half the usual amount of butter. Throw in a few tablespoons of fat-free sour cream for a rich and creamy taste.
o Sausage Pizza: Top a ready-made pizza crust with tomato sauce; sliced bell peppers and red onions; precooked and sliced chicken sausage links or crumbled turkey sausage; and a small amount of grated reduced-fat cheese.
o Bacon and Eggs: Scramble two egg whites and one whole egg. Serve with Canadian bacon, whole wheat toast with marmalade and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
Reduce portions. Some men refuse to give up their favorite foods. So cook them, but make less. Even a six-ounce steak is better than a 12-ounce one.
Disguise healthy foods. Shred carrots into spaghetti sauce, add vegetables to fajitas or burritos, and oat bran to muffins. Puree vegetables and add to cream sauces or soups, add spinach and crumbled tofu to lasagna, cook oatmeal in nonfat milk, or mix wheat germ into your coating for chicken.
Pump up the flavor. Even when a man wants to eat healthier, the food still must taste great. That means using savory flavors, such as fresh herbs, garlic, ginger, lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, horseradish, or salsa. Skip the cutesy garnishes and the finely chopped celery and focus on the type of meals most men like best – straightforward, uncomplicated, and satisfying.
Let him splurge now and then. An occasional treat will go a long way in keeping him on a healthy eating style.