Dear Annie: My boyfriend, "Joseph," grew up in a lower-income household in what we would now call a "food desert." Most meals were fast food, and his parents didn't really care about nutrition. They were just focused on getting something on the table, which I understand considering their circumstances. However, fast-forward 20 years, and he is still gorging on a lot of the same stuff he had as a kid -- burgers, pizza, fried chicken, soda.
I was raised in a house where the kitchen was the heart of the home, and vegetables were the lifeblood. Good meals meant good times with good friends where we felt good about what we were eating. Cooking healthy, delicious meals is important to me, and I'd like a partner who cares about this, too.
Since moving to a bigger city with healthier options, his diet has improved a great deal, but I can't seem to just accept his choices around food, whether it's not drinking water, not eating enough veggies or not cooking at home often.
Annie, how do I stop being so judgmental about this? I know that he gets stressed out about food because thinking about nutrition and recipes is totally foreign to him, and my nagging only is causing him more stress. This is one of our biggest sources of conflict, but I can't seem to get over being "right" that his quality of life will improve when he improves the quality food he's consuming. -- Kitchen Confidential
Dear Kitchen Confidential: It's no secret that eating healthy is an important part of life. Good nutrition is imperative for a long, happy and healthy life. Your childhood sounds very fortunate. Yet just as important as good nutrition are good relations filled with love, tolerance and understanding. Be grateful that your boyfriend is trying, and give him credit whenever he eats a healthy meal. We have too much stress these days, and stressing about healthy eating can be unhealthy. Remember building new positive habits takes time. Be patient with him as he learns new eating habits. Try and remind him about how good it feels to feed your body and mind with healthy foods.
Dear Annie: I am writing about thoughtfulness and help regarding illness or death in the family of friends. I have some suggestions because I have been in both situations. Well-meaning friends will say: "Let me know if I can help. Let me know if you would like a meal, a ride, grocery shopping, etc." Thoughtful friends will say: "I am bringing dinner over. What day and time would be best? I am going grocery shopping. Give me your list so I can do that for you. I will pick you up for your doctor's appointment. What day and time?"
Most of the ill or bereaved are not going to ask for help. I hope that this is a wake-up call for the "well-meaning." -- Actions Speak Louder Than Words.
Dear Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Thank you for taking the time to write, and let's hope that your suggestions will help people to do more and say less when it comes to helping out a friend in grief.
Send your questions for Annie Lane firstname.lastname@example.org.