• Rhyena Halpern

Are You Food Compatible with Your Partner?







You may feel easily compatible with your new partner about the big things that matter, like a shared world view, your professional goals, whether you want to have kids, or sharing money and bills, but how do you know if you are compatible when it comes to ingesting food?


Your long-term relationship may have successfully navigated the map of her weird family, their waxing and waning sexual appetites, or made peace with his trail of dirty dishes and stinky socks. But does their requirement every Friday night for pizza and beer drive you nuts?


What to do about deep ideological divides in the culinary canyons of your collective stomach? Could they sow irreparable discord in your love nest?


My spousal unit told me what he ate the other day. He had a piece of chocolate cake in the morning. He had some blintzes fried in copious globs of butter plus a slice of leftover pizza for lunch. In the late afternoon, he had a handful of potato chips. For dinner he had his favorite meal of chicken in cream sauce and scalloped potatoes with extra gruyere and a glass of wine, red of course. He grudgingly ate a few bites of grilled zucchini.


Immediately after dinner, he had what he calls first dessert- that night it was two biscuit cookies dipped in dark chocolate and a few chocolate-covered mints. For second dessert, about 2 hours later, he had Haagen Das chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips.


Oh, and did I say he is super skinny?


You probably guessed that my food intake on the same day consisted of oh-so-boring organic vegetables and chicken, berries, a handful of cashews.


But that is not the point.


The point being that how that dude ate was a daily upsetting trigger for me for 20 years. I felt deprived if I did not let myself indulge as he so freely did. I tried to keep up with him on vacation when he consumed no less than five desserts a day. I can’t tell you how much crusty bread and how many sticks of butter I ingested at all of those fancy sauces at the French restaurants he had to, had to, just had to frequent on trips to New York City, never mind the huge quantity of desserts. I intensely longed to be like him, a hedonist who could, with abandon, indulge, all day every day. While he could take one bite of a cupcake and throw the rest out, that same one bite triggered me and sent me into sugar addiction for weeks and often months.


Definitely, absolutely, my spousal unit and I were 100% NOT food compatible! And it was hurting me. Literally. Physically. During those blurred years of sleep-deprived, manically stressful childrearing, working a big job with a long commute, and losing my grip on sugar and flour- my hypothyroidism bloomed into full autoimmune Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, my weight increased by 30 pounds, my fatigue quadrupled, and my hormonal imbalances kept me emotionally sliding. I had the sugar-stress blues and was an exhausted, rotund, sugar-addicted mess.


Something had to give. Between his unequivocal refusal to keep sugar out of the house combined with the reality of raising small people, that something was going to have to be me. I was going to have to learn to peacefully co-exist with a lot of white flour and sugar, without consuming it.


It was a long time coming, but I took up the torch of self-determination to make peace with those very incompatible foods. Like a modern-day Dona Quixote, I was on a quest to free myself forever from my internal war with sugar and my external battle with my spouse over food. Yes! I can do this!


And I did.


Over time. A long time. Years.


As a hedonic eater, my partner lived to eat; he saw food as a sensual indulgence and did not worry about the impact to his health. I eat to live, as an, ahem, boring homeostatic eater, who indulges in a square of monk fruit-sweetened chocolate because it does not send me into sugar hell.


I would not consume cocaine if it was in my pantry and since sugar is 7 times more addicting than sugar, I just say no. I recall how it makes me feel, how inflamed it makes my gut, how its hyper-palatability lights up my brain and makes it impossible to stop. I know his way of eating hurts my body.


Now that the kids are grown and mostly out of the house, I call the food shots and if my spouse does not like what I am cooking, he can go out or order in. That helps a lot. So does a gluten free diet- excellent for healing the gut and lowering inflammation- since that automatically excludes so many processed foods.


I must ‘keep the peace’ with those pesky, incompatible foods. I remain vigilant every day. I never take my abstinence from sugar for granted.


I embrace the lack of food compatibility with my partner, allowing it to work to my advantage.


I now feel my body needing less food and that feels amazing. I feel my body using the food I ingest to fuel my energy which is also amazing.


I am definitely food incompatible with my partner. I always will be but the difference is that now I don’t let it hurt me.


Finally, it’s that simple.


I went from feeling deprived to feeling empowered in my pantry.


What about you? If you are not in a food compatible relationship, how do you navigate that challenge?


BTW, don’t you agree that dating apps should include food compatibility in their logarithm?



















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