Dear Miriam | Partner’s Diet Leaves Much to be Desired

coconut cream, carrot cake and chocolate and vanilla cupcakes in a display case at Cake
Photo by Keri White

Dear Miriam, 

How can I suggest/get my partner to eat healthier? I’ve noticed they keep a lot of junk food around and have gained weight recently, but they don’t think there’s anything wrong with the way they eat.


The Healthier Half

Dear Healthier,

Your concern for your partner is clear, but tread lightly, please. “Healthy” is not an objective goal, particularly not when it comes to using weight as a metric, and there are many fine lines that you could easily cross by bringing up anything about your partner’s weight or their eating habits.

As with most things, what you can control revolves around your own actions. If you’re staying at your partner’s house, plan to go shopping, either together or alone, so that the food that you want to eat is available while you’re there. Having more fruits and veggies and less junk food around might mean your partner is more likely to eat the things that you find more acceptable. At a minimum, while you’re together, there’s no reason you need to eat the junk just because it’s around.

The issue of what your partner eats could be systemic in some way. Maybe your partner isn’t able to shop frequently because of timing or transportation, or maybe they don’t have time or energy to cook on days that they’re working. Perhaps cooking together can become a fun activity for the two of you, or you can suggest or introduce some of your own favorite foods.

Maybe you can add nightly walks to your rotation of activities or invite your partner to be part of a new year’s resolution with you around exercise. Only do this if it sounds actually fun, is something you yourself would like to do and if you can avoid making it a point of contention between you if he declines. Consider the likely possibility, though, that your tastes and interests are different, and your relationships to food and body image are personal and in some conflict with each other.

Short of a life-alteringly dramatic weight gain that may be indicative of a medical condition that needs medical attention, please don’t bring up your partner’s weight. There’s really no good that can come from it for either of you individually or for your relationship.

More than anything, avoid moralizing food choices and weight gain or loss. Continue to eat what makes you feel good, offering to share when it’s reasonable to do so, and trust your partner to do the same.

Be well,



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