12 Dietitian Tips to Keep Guys Healthy
Father’s Day is just around the corner, so it’s time to think about how important all of the guys in our lives are. Here I am in Puerto Rico with the men in my life—my husband Peter and my two sons, Christian and Nicholas. I would do anything to keep them living a vibrant and healthy life for years to come, and I know you feel the same way about your guys. Did you know that lifestyle is the most powerful thing you can do to preserve your health? An estimated 80% of chronic diseases might be mitigated with lifestyle—how you eat, exercise, and live your daily life. You can even “turn off” genes that predispose you to disease through your diet and lifestyle. And men have unique health concerns, such as heart disease and prostate cancer risk. With that in mind, I asked some of my favorite dietitian pals to share their best tips for how they help the men in their lives stay healthy. Read on for this fabulous collection of dietitians’ personal advice, and don’t forget: Stay strong guys!
1. Crush the plant-based “poor tasting” stigma. “Years ago, my husband used to perceive plant-based meals to be unsatisfying until he actually tried some and realized how delicious and filling they can be. We enjoy cooking together when we have the time, and it helped him build skills to prepare balanced and adequate plant-based meals on his own. Now he’s the first to grab tempeh and tofu out of the fridge to recover post-workout or meal prep for the week. Plant-based meals are great for longevity in many ways,” says Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
2. Take advantage of red foods. “Increase lycopene-rich foods with tomato based dishes—cooked increases lycopene—or watermelon. Lots of delicious colorful produce for antioxidants!” says Janet Brancato, MS, RD, My Nutopia.
3. Serve healthy, good-tasting food. “Two things have been crucial for helping my hubs eat healthy. #1 Food must taste good. While I may be more willing to eat something purely for its health benefits, my man is not. I strive to cook and create recipes that are secretly ‘healthy’ and clearly delicious. #2 When I introduce a new healthy food or a less liked healthy food, I always pair it with a home-run food,” says Jenna Braddock, MSH, RD, CSSD sports RD, blogger at Make Healthy Easy and football coach’s wife.
4. Make it easy for him. “My husband likes to eat healthy for the most part, but has zero interest in kitchen participation. I do three things to help him out: First, I wash fruits and leave them ‘visible’ in the fridge—the bottom of the drawer won’t cut it! Second, I wash and chop veggies, also leaving them visible. Prepping produce ahead of time helps him reach his fiber needs. Third, I pack healthful meals, and those already-prepped fruits and veggies for snacks, for him by batch cooking when he will have long days at the office. Balanced meals keep both his body and his brain fueled for the long-haul,” says Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LDN.
5. Have healthy food readily available. “In my house, it’s all about availability of healthier foods. I do the shopping and I usually make dinner so I serve as many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as possible. Also, I stock the kitchen with healthy foods, such as nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain cereal, for when hunger strikes,” says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, Better is the New Perfect.
6. Offer plant-based bites. “When I first started dating my fiancé, I knew I had my work cut out for me. As a meat and potatoes guy, he scoffed at the idea of a plant-based meal. Instead of lecturing him for hours on why he should be eating more plants, I let the food do the talking. Most nights, I would prepare myself a plant-based meal and offer to let him to try a taste. Over time, he has come to realize that ‘healthy’ food does not have to be bland and that many of the foods that he had always claimed to ‘hate’ had never been given a fair chance. Today, roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts are two of his favorite foods, and he’s even been known to order a veggie burger from time to time! Sure, there’s still plenty of pizza and sausage in his diet, but healthy eating is a journey and it’s all about balance. But I feel much better knowing that at least he’s having a big bowl of Brussels sprouts with that sausage,” says Kara Golis, RDN, Byte Sized Nutrition.
7. Keep green produce readily available. “We always have many sorts of greens, such as kale, spinach, collards, bok choy, and arugula, on hand in our house. Out of habit, now when my husband is in charge of our meals, he always uses the greens in our meal. Having them visible is the first part of the story – and the fact that greens can be added to anything makes them pretty attractive too!” says Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN, Bucket List Tummy.
8. Make one meal only. “While I do try to make healthful versions of my husband’s favorite foods, I know he’ll just eat whatever I cook for dinner instead of making something separate for himself, so I make sure our meals are healthful and balanced and say no if he asks me to bust out the pb&j!” says Jessica Levings, MS, RD, Balanced Pantry.
9. Pack leftovers for lunch. “If you’re willing to put in the time, pack lunch for him so he doesn’t end up getting takeout. What makes it easy for me is to cook something for dinner that makes more servings than we need, then pack up the leftovers for his lunch. Add some fruit and maybe a sparkling water if he tends to drink soda. If he works as hard as my husband, he’ll likely appreciate that he doesn’t need to take time away from work to go to a local lunch spot. And also, lead by example! Unbeknownst to me, my husband, who formerly subsisted about 100% on fast food before we were dating, vowed to never eat at a fast food restaurant again on the day I passed my dietitian exam. I never asked him to do it, he just decided that it was what he wanted to do based on my example, I assume!” says Diana K. Rice, RD, The Baby Steps Dietitian.
10. Offer healthy, convenient snacks. “I often help my husband stock his office with healthful, convenient snacks, so he’s not tempted to reach for the candy bowl when he’s burning the midnight oil. Single-serve hummus, fresh fruit, cut up vegetables, whole grain crackers, nut butter, and roasted chickpeas are regularly in the rotation,” says Katie Morford, MS, RD, author of Mom’s Kitchen Handbook.
11. Include a veggie at every dinner. “Since I primarily do the food shopping and cooking, I make sure to stock our home with wholesome foods and limit the junk. Mr E rarely goes food shopping, so I always know he’s gone on a food run when a pint of ice cream or package of cookies mysteriously appears in our house! I make it a point not to shame him about it, and even join him for a scoop of ice cream or a cookie break to show him how all foods can fit. Plus, it helps get them out of the house faster! One major rule I have at dinnertime is that a veggie must be present, either as a side salad or as part of the meal. When Mr E is in charge of making dinner, he knows a veggie needs to be on that plate, even though if it was up to him it would be ‘optional’. After seeing his cholesterol drop significantly since we got married and lived together, I believe he’s seen the value in veggies!” says Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT, creator of the couples nutrition blog Nutrition Nuptials.
12. Prep healthy meals on Sunday. “My Sunday meal prep and meal planning help ensure my entire family including my special men make healthier food choices throughout the week. During the busy workweek the preplanning helps to alleviate the urge to order take out while also guaranteeing we have a balanced meal,” says Kristen Smith, MS, RD, creator of 360 Family Nutrition.