Why I Stopped Feeding My Family

Not too long ago I used to cook for my family. I used to ask my husband what he wanted to eat in hopes of making some delicious food that he would rave about. I love to cook and I like when others enjoy the food I make. When we first started dating, as a nerdy dietitian, I asked him all the foods he did not like. I deal with picky eating kids all day at work and didn’t want to have a picky husband. He told me a list of about 8-10 foods he didn’t like and over the course of our first month dating I cooked him all the foods he didn’t like. TRIAL BY FIRE!!!  It was my own little experiment to find the answer to 4 questions.

  1. Did he truly not like those foods?
  2. Is he polite and good at faking a smile when he doesn’t like something?
  3. Could he put up with my crazy cooking if our relationship progressed?
  4. Can I hide the food well enough that he can’t tell it’s in there?

Come to find out there is only 1 of the 10 foods that he absolutely won’t eat (coconut), he is polite, he still puts up with my crazy cooking, and sometimes I’m not as tricky as I think I am about hiding food. We still joke about the food I cooked him while we were dating.

After my test, I started to feel bad and make him all his favorite foods. I continued to do that the first year of our marriage. I wanted to be a great wife and give him all his favorite foods. Maybe that’s why my husband gained weight during the first year of our marriage.

Now, in our third year of marriage I have stopped cooking for my husband and started cooking for myself and for our health. I don’t ask him very often what he wants to eat (except for his birthday and father’s day) and I cook what is best for our health.

I used to cook for him, but sometimes my husband is not able to join us for dinner so I don’t get immediate feedback from him about the meal I cooked. I miss the satisfaction of seeing his face when he takes the first bite or hearing his feedback. My husband isn’t the greatest at giving feedback on my meals. He likes everything I cook (except coconut) and gives general feedback like, “yeah it was good.” That’s when I started inviting my friends over when I need feedback from someone besides a toddler and my husband isn’t there. I’m impatient and don’t like to wait to hear about how the meal tastes, 3 days after I cooked it.  I like the immediate gratification of receiving feedback right when I serve the meal.

Sometimes I still pester my husband, “Did you try my new recipe?” “Why haven’t you tried what I cooked for dinner last night?” “When are you going to eat that food I made and tell me what you think?”

I had a roommate that teased me when I cooked food because I usually said, “good luck, hope it tastes good,” before serving dinner. She would protest and ask why I hadn’t tasted it yet. She was the queen of taste testing her food as she went along. I grew up following recipes and just trusting that the recipe was correct and tasted good.  I have since learned to experiment in my cooking and taste test along the way.

Fact: Use a new spoon each time you taste test for sanitary reasons. Even if you’re not serving others, your saliva breaks down food. If you want leftovers to be any good then don’t contaminate them with your saliva.

I also stopped cooking for my toddler. I don’t ask my toddler what he wants to eat, I give him what I’m eating and let him choose from that. I am not a short order chef and have requested that my husband not be one either when our toddler protests what is on his plate. I have had many patients come in that are overweight, have high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. As I explain diet changes to the parents they frequently respond, “Oh yeah I love eating all that food but my child will not eat it, so I never make it.” That’s when I step in and start teaching parents about picky eating and helping their child eat healthy food.

Fact: Children will learn to eat what their parents eat and don’t need special “kid food.”

If you find that you are struggling to get your kids to eat, you can read my book “How to Turn a Food Fight Into a Party.” It will be published next month. Subscribe below to my monthly newsletter to receive a discounted price when it’s published.

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When all is said and done, I am in charge of the food my family receives. If they are not eating healthy, then I need to take charge and make a change. I continually evaluate our diet and seek to improve the food I offer my family. Comparing our diet with the USDA standards has really helped me see where I need to improve. I’ve noticed a huge improvement in our family meals and overall eating habits as I have focused on our health and stopped catering to everyone’s food preferences.

Action Items

  • Plan ahead and make a menu for your family that's healthy

  • Look up USDA standards and set goals to meet the standards. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/dietary-guidelines 

  • When your family protests your changes, prepare a plan of action. If you need ideas read my book coming soon, "How to Turn a Food Fight Into a Party"