While some couples struggle with communication, deciding what to watch on tv, agreeing on a budget, or dividing household chores, for others, the biggest hurdle is learning to navigate their vast differences in culinary habits. Cooking together can be a challenge if you have dietary differences, whether they result from allergies, sensitivities, lifestyle, ethical choices, or personal preferences. Here are four approaches worth exploring.
Finding Common Ground to Resolve Dietary Difference
One of the easiest ways to come together for meals, when you have different diets, is to avoid foods that either one of you would prefer not to have. Depending on how many options you’d need to eliminate, this approach may [or may not] be the best way to go. For instance, this might not work well if, by the time you reduce your ingredient list to those that are jointly approved, what’s left is painfully restrictive. Variety, and nutritional guidelines, should be considered before settling on compromise as your primary strategy.
You Don’t Have to Cook Every Meal Together
Living together doesn’t necessarily mean sharing every meal. If you’re struggling to find dishes that will satisfy you both, one solution is to reduce how frequently you need to find a resolution. Perhaps you can eat breakfast and lunch separately, then come together for dinner. Or eat together on weekends, but separately on workdays. Dining out is a great way, from time to time, to enjoy one another’s company, while eating completely different food.
Try Getting Creative in the Kitchen!
Approach finding feasts, fit for you both, with a sense of adventure. Your differences in diet can be seen as an invitation to take turns seeking out new recipes to try. Make something that’s slightly outside both of your cooking comfort zones. Learn new culinary skills, and do an at-home date night that includes a romantic recipe.
Different Diets Can Be Accommodated By Using Two Pans
This is, hands down, my favorite solution to the “different diets dilemma”. In addition to having a plethora of specific restrictions, I enjoy “trying on” different diets. As I age, I’ve become increasingly concerned with maintaining healthy habits. Part of prioritizing health and wellness is understanding, caring about, what I’m feeding my body and mind.
Separating food, initially, was about quantity rather than ingredients. We were counting our macros. Once we were using the “two pan” system, it occurred to us one person’s meal could be a little spicier than the other’s. This eventually led to the addition of a few different ingredients, here and there.
Our meals might overlap, 90% or more, but those tiny distinctions really are the icing on the cake!
Always Serve Your Food With a Side of Respect
Whatever approach you choose, you’ll succeed so long as the key ingredient is respect. Food preferences reflect our health, history, experiences, memories, and perhaps even our values. Eating is tied to our ideas about relationships, family rituals, and holiday celebrations.
Part of prioritizing our wants and needs is acknowledging and sharing food habits, restrictions, and preferences. Honoring our own, and our partner’s, relationship with food is one aspect of establishing healthy boundaries. There’s no one “right way” to accommodate dietary differences. Start with these strategies, which have proven effective for others. Get ahead of the issue, don’t wait until the differences in your diets turn into a dealbreaker.