Q&A: How Do I Convince My Husband to Eat Paleo with Me?

The following is an email exchange between a woman and me about her troubles getting her husband on board with Paleo. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this scenario, whether it’s your husband, wife, brother, or friend. Please share in the comments what you’ve done to help your significant other see the light :)

Hi there!

Basically, when I met my husband, I was 30 lbs lighter (as was he). I was obese to begin with (270 lbs and 5’4″) and so that extra 30 has really taken a toll on my body.

I lost the 30 I had gained with My Fitness Pal, and then I got pregnant. I gained that 30 back during pregnancy and still have not yet gotten around to even starting to lose it. (And my son turns a year this month).

Anyway, my point to this email is, I really want to start the Paleo way of eating (or at least mostly… with our schedule and other functions, it won’t be 100% but I’d like to shoot for 80%). However, I am having a REALLY hard time convincing my husband that refined foods/processed foods and soda are bad for him. We’ve had many arguments over it. If I cook dinner, he’ll eat it, but not breakfast or lunch. And then, he’ll still get a bunch of soda, junk food, or candy every day for snacking.

I’ve thought of just separating our eating, but that will almost double our already-large food bill (5 people in our household).

Do you have any advice on how to get him to at least somewhat on board or excited about this?

Any help is appreciated!


PS – I’ll be signing up for your weekly meal plans on December 6th. I’m very excited!

Hi Catherine,

That’s a tough question. Unfortunately, sometimes diet advice is the WORST coming from spouses and family members. Giving people books by experts often works well, but only if that person actually wants to change. Having said that, here are some tips for you.

Talk It Out
Maybe have a sit down with him and explain that this is incredibly important to you, not only because it will make YOU healthier and happier, but because it’ll make him healthier as well, which means you get to spend more of your life together as happy healthy people.

Let The Computer Do The Talking
Maybe sit down with him at the computer and read through the hundreds of testimonials on www.marksdailyapple.com and other sites, including this one. Every Friday marksdailyapple.com features a person who’s changed their life and health with a Paleo or Primal diet. Maybe they can inspire your husband. Or just google “Paleo testimonial” and feast your eyes on the stunning results you get.

Financial Threats
While I’m actually not a fan of spousal threats–and only use them myself when I REALLY want something :)–you could tell him that if he doesn’t do this with you, your food bill will increase too much, and you’re not willing to NOT do it, so he needs to comply.

The Old “Anyone can do anything for 30 days” Trick
You could say to him, “Let’s just try this for a month. You can do anything for a month, right?” and then gently remind him of all his aches and pains, the medications he’s on (if he’s on any), his blood work results (if they were negative), and his weight (if he needs to lose weight), etc. You know – the things he probably conveniently forgets about so he doesn’t have to deal with them (we all do it!). Just remind him ever so kindly that he may feel better – that it’s possible that all of the bad stuff will just go away – if he changed his diet.

Inspire Him
I will say that there are a lot of people out there who just start doing this on their own, no matter what the financial cost, and their partners see such drastic improvements in them that they’re inspired to try it themselves. Maybe that’s what might have to happen for you guys?

Nobody knows your husband like you do, so work your magic on him! But like I said, he needs to want to change on his own, and I sincerely hope you can help him get to that place.

Ok, good luck to you!



  1. My youngest daughter and I eat Paleo, and my husband and teenagers don’t. I make paleo dinners for everyone (and sometimes include a side of potatoes/rice/pasta just for the non-paleos). Breakfast and lunch for me and the small one are paleo; for my husband and the older kids, I provide what they’ll eat, and they’re responsible to feed themselves at those meals.

    Honestly, if he’ll eat what you make for dinner, just start there. Every little bit helps, right? Separate breakfasts/lunches aren’t going to break the bank in the same way that separate dinners will.

    Making a battle out of it will probably make things worse. People tend to get stubborn if they think you’re planning to take away their comforts.

  2. I started eating Paleo almost exactly two years ago, and wasn’t able to convince my husband to do the same (it’s just the two of us — we’re empty nesters). We’ve shared cooking generally, but I thought it was unfair of me to ask him to cook in a manner to which he wasn’t committed. So I said I’d do the dinner cooking for “awhile.” Initially, my commitment was to try Paleo for 30 days. I loved it, and before long was pretty sure this was the way I was going to eat for life. My husband truly enjoyed the Paleo dinners, but he wasn’t willing to give up his breads and various sugary treats. Nor did he need to lose weight. We kept on this way for about 6 months, me eating Paleo and him eating Paleo dinners. I didn’t push him (that required a lot of restraint on my part), but he saw first-hand what it was doing for me. And then we went on vacation. For me, a couple of bites of cake led to a bit of bread, and I soon was feeling icky. As we were getting ready to come home, I told him I was going to do another 30-day strict Paleo gig. He’s already expressed a bit more curiosity about Paleo — about what it might do for his health (especially the creeping-high blood pressure) — so I casually offered to have him join with me and said I’d take care of the food. Then he experienced first-hand how much better one feels eating this way! He stuck with it for, first, those 30 days and he’s been devoted to Paleo ever since. It helped that his blood pressure went from borderline high to low normal within about 3 weeks, and he fairly quickly lost 2-3 inches off his waist (even though no one would have described him as even slightly overweight). Now, at 60, he has that elusive v-shaped torso. He may be more of an evangelist for Paleo than I am, and often says that he’s in this for life too.

    I think it’s important to get him on board with respect to supporting YOU, even if he’s not going to start the Paleo journey with you. Get his commitment to respect your choices and to not try to coax you to have “just this one piece of cake.” Explaining that this is really important to you, and why, will likely help a lot. If you can’t clear the kitchen and refrigerator of non-Paleo foods, try to corral all of them somewhere where they won’t constantly be available to you.

    So I’ll echo Wendy’s advice to do Paleo dinners (you can do them in a way the non-Paleo eaters will enjoy) and not stress over the other non-Paleo meals he’ll be eating for awhile. Your good example may just do the trick, with a bit of time!

  3. I really feel for the reader who submitted the email. I know it can be so hard to get people to just try! One piece of advice I have is to make it fun. Try some paleo-friendly dessert recipes that will make him feel like he can still treat, just not the same way as before.

  4. I found that if I cook all his food, including packing lunch for work, he’ll stick to it. He pretty quickly realized that his energy levels are higher, his sleep quality better, and he can drop about 12 lbs in 3 weeks. Over time he realized how excited I was about it and so he looked for his own recipes and would surprise me with dinner! I started by asking him to commit to it for 5 days and then we took it another few days at a time until we hit 30 days and he was hooked. Now, we cash in on flex/cheat days but Sunday night – Friday afternoon we’re good. Oh, and I definitely agree about the paleo-friendly desserts, that was key along with paleo-“friendly” alcohol like no-sugar-added cider and apple vodka.

  5. There’s an abundance of estrogen in the comments so far, which I love :-)

    However, here’s a dude’s perspective:

    What women view as increasing intimacy, men view as limiting their freedom. The absolute best way to ensure that a guy keeps eating the same crap he was eating before is to harp on him. Even if you’re uber subtle about it, he’s just going to REACT out of annoyance (oh yeah? Tell ME what to eat will ya? *takes out bag of cheetos*) You follow me ladies?

    There’s a small percentage of guys that will listen to what you say, analyze it and RESPOND rather than REACT. But you have to remember that the reason people eat unhealthy to begin with is usually the result of conditioning and psychological issues that a guy has very little awareness about.

    So my suggestion, take it or leave it, is to lead by example and stop trying to manipulate your man. I know it’s out of good intentions but you’ll piss him off, I promise you, and it will have the opposite effect.

    If, on the other hand you start losing weight and looking all sexy, he’s immediately going to start thinking…”damn, she’s starting to look fly. If I don’t shape up, she’s going to go find a guy in her league.” Yep, that’s how guys think. Just sayin’…

  6. I agree with the thought that every little bit helps. Eating paleo dinners is a pretty good start, I’d say. My husband and I have been making progressive changes for years. Several years ago we tried to just cook more at home, no matter what it was (even prepackaged stuff). I quit any drinks besides water about a year ago, and we rarely have pop in the house anymore. If he buys some though, I don’t give him a hard time, because forcing someone to change almost never works (I know it doesn’t on me). About 6 months ago we cut way down on prepackaged and started cooking from scratch as much as possible. 2 months ago I had health issues that got me to primal. My husband supports me but is not ready to make that leap himself. He is making changes like eggs for more breakfasts instead of waffles or cereal, takes on more of the responsibilities with the kids so I can do big batch cooking (which leaves plenty of leftovers for subsequent lunches and dinners throughout the week). He still has his junky snacks, and it’s really hard to get the kids off that stuff when it’s in the house, but I’m eating 95% better, he and the kids are eating at least 50% better. It’s taken years but I’m happy with where we’re at and believe we will continue to improve.

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