If your boyfriend is anything like, oh, 97.3% of guys out there, getting them to eat healthy, and enjoy doing it, is no easy feat. Fat chance they’ll be trading in loaded cheesy burritos and chicken wings for vegan veggie wraps and roasted cauliflower “wings” anytime soon, but these smart tips from expert nutritionist Heidi Skolnik, MS, CDN and the team at Dominex, “The Eggplant” People, are sure to inspire them to make the healthy eating plunge. P.S. Their happy stomachs and slimmer waistlines will thank you.
1. Make smart swaps.
Help your guy think creatively about how he can replace go-to food faves with healthier options.
“[Start by adding] a twist to a favorite, familiar recipe. Instead of using beef or sausage in meatballs try meatless ones made from veggies.” Does he slather mayo all over his daily turkey club lunch? Try spreading hummus or mashed avocado as protein and nutrient-rich sammy toppers instead. “Substitute Greek yogurt for cream in soups and baking, and even for sour cream on Taco Tuesday! Yogurt is packed with calcium and potassium, that may help support muscles and bones, and the probiotics that help maintain gut health,” explains Heidi. Also, think about how you can pair meal bases like potatoes with healthier accompaniments. Dominex loves pairing ’em with eggplant and roasted peppers and recommends experimenting with whatever veggies are in season for the perfect bite.
2. Flavor-boost dishes.
Part of the reason he may reach for that fat-laden pizza over, say, a kale salad is because, well it tastes good and the simpler, healthier foods he’s tried are just bland. But you can slash calories and fat while still enhancing flavor in a variety of ways. “First have him start with ingredients he may already have in his kitchen like 100 percent orange juice. Add a few splashes to your next barbeque glaze or sauce for a refreshing citrus twist. You can even add it to whipped sweet potatoes. It’s an excellent source of natural sweetness (free of added sugar), not to mention fat free, sodium free and cholesterol free,” offers Heidi. “Don’t forget to add spice to your veggies. Add pepper, basil, Italian seasonings, or even roasted pine nuts and bring out an entirely new flavor to your veggies,” recommends Dominex. Try transforming his simple pasta and tomato sauce dinner by adding a splash of balsamic vinegar for a savory twist and topping with cheesy-tasting and B12-rich nutritional yeast.
3. Try the plate trick.
“Larger plates can make a serving of food appear small, yet the same portion on a smaller plate can seem large. The eyes — not the stomach — count calories, and if the brain thinks a portion is skimpy, it’s more likely to want seconds. Switch to smaller plates and fill them to the brim. Your guy won’t know what’s missing,” Heidi recommends. Some new research also suggests that eating on red plates may curb eating, so if the spirit moves you, try investing in a few and see if it helps.
4. Work it.
Ask most girls what they bring to snack on at the job, and you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they keep their desk loaded with apples, peanut butter, nuts and other nutritious goodies. Ask the average guy…and the answer is probably the vending machine. Make sure you stress the importance of eating throughout the day to keep your body fueled ” [Tell them to] simply eat!” exclaims Heidi. “This trick is easy and doesn’t require any sacrifice: Eat regularly, spreading calories evenly throughout the day to help manage appetite and avoid energy crashes.” A few easy to prep workplace snacks include almonds mixed with dark chocolate, hummus with carrots and pretzels for dipping, a banana dipped in almond butter or granola bars (look for healthy ones from brands like KIND). Feeling adventurous? Take a stab at making this super-easy and yummy homemade orange-walnut granola. If cookies and candy bars lying around work are your BF’s downfall, surprise him with a batch of almost-healthy no-bake chocolate cherry cookies.
5. Sneak fruits in.
A study using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reports that 80 percent of Americans’ typical fruit intakes fall short of recommendations (USDA MyPyramid food groups) – eek! “Don’t let your boyfriend fall into that 80 percent!” says Heidi. “As a complement to whole fruit, drinking an 8-ounce glass of 100 percent orange juice is an easy and refreshing way to add more. One 8 ounce glass counts as 1 cup of fruit.” Other ways to slip in the good stuff: Instead of buying fruit-flavored yogurt, which is often a sugar bomb, suggest he sprinkle strawberries and blueberries atop plain, unsweetened yogurt. Tackling recipes like Whole Wheat Oatmeal Applesauce Banana Bread. Unsweetened dried fruit paired with crackers also make for a great and healthy snack.
6. Play with your (super)foods!
And while you’re at it, don’t go at it alone: Dominex stresses that cooking together is a fun bonding activity and also yields the yummiest, healthiest results best results. Heidi suggests these smart ideas for throwing more nutrient-dense superstars into your man’s meals:
- Walnuts – Walnuts are a super versatile add-in and another great source of protein and omega-3 fats. Toss a handful into protein shakes, salads and even a stir-fry for added protein and crunch.
- Cruciferous vegetables – This family of multitasking veggies is known for delicious taste and cancer-preventing phytochemicals. Try roasting broccoli or cauliflower with a tablespoon of olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper.
- Red and Orange produce – Antioxidants found in red and orange veggies and fruit, like 100 percent orange juice, squash, bell peppers and carrots, support overall health and may help maintain eyesight and immune health.
- Avocado – Think outside the guacamole bowl! Avocado is a nutritionist’s favorite for its monosaturated fats that pack a punch against cholesterol. For a quick and satisfying snack, mash 1/4 of an avocado on a piece of toast rubbed with a garlic clove.
- Cinnamon – This versatile spice is a great addition to smoothies and oatmeal or lentils for an easy Indian-themed meal. Cinnamon is rich in both flavor and antioxidants, and may help regulate blood sugar.