Diet is such a personal thing. Many people define themselves by what they eat. A steak and potatoes kind of guy. A crunchy granola girl. Try to change them, taking away the foods they know and love, and they become massively defensive. Because you’re not just taking away their food, you’re also taking away part of the essence of their being.
Add love into the mix, and things can get tricky. Can a vegan ever love a carnivore or vice versa?
“Sharing meals has always been an important courtship ritual and a metaphor for love. But in an age when many people define themselves by what they will eat and what they won’t, dietary differences can put a strain on a romantic relationship. The culinary camps have become so balkanized that some factions consider interdietary dating taboo.”
I remember when I started living my delicious life. I was in transition – just started dating this guy who was really into health food, and I was starting a strict regime of Ayurvedic cleansing and rebuilding. I said to him, “I don’t want to become a vegetarian!” As if that was such a bad thing.
I did go vegetarian for a while – and it felt great for that time. Then I learned so much about eating and diet – and that, for me, vegetarianism might not be the best thing, but not for the reasons that had detracted me from it when I was starting my adventure.
Changing your diet when you’re in a relationship can be difficult. You and your partner start out eating a certain way together as a couple, and life is good. And then you decide that maybe you want to eat better, get healthier, lose weight, or whatever. You’re making a change.
If your partner is supportive, great. It will still take some lifestyle adjusting, but it’s not such a big deal. You learn and figure it out. If your partner doesn’t like this new change, however, watch out. They might try to subconsciously (or worse, deliberately) sabotage you. You’ll keep trying to change but feel torn. What’s more important? The relationship or the diet?
Food has a strong subconscious link to love, said Kathryn Zerbe, a psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. That is why refusing a partner’s food “can feel like rejection,” she said.
As with other differences couples face, tolerance and compromise are essential at the dinner table, marital therapists said. “If you can’t allow your partner to have latitude in what he or she eats, then maybe your problem isn’t about food,” said Susan Jaffe, a psychiatrist in Manhattan.
Quotes from I Love You, But You Love Meat found in the New York Times.