Jun. 23. 2017
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

How To Eat Healthy With Your Partner. Is this an elusive lifestyle only accomplished and practiced by unicorns or people who have all the time in the world to devote to this practice of balance as a duo?

NO! You and your love can totally make this work, here’s how and what I’ve learned from personal experience and coaching my clients. Questions I often get asked from friends, family, or through email is “Does your boyfriend eat as healthy as you do? How do you make it work if he doesn’t? How can I get my partner into healthy living? I wish my husband would eat more vegetables, how do I get him to?”

First things first, my motto with living #nutritionstripped in real life is truly about balance, it’s about enjoying life, feeling amazing, and leaving diets and dogmas at the door. Second, it’s about taking the time to change habits which can be tough work, that’s why I coach weekly with my clients. Third, remember to have fun when incorporating new habits into your lifestyle (and your partners) – it makes the process much more enjoyable.

Here’s how to get in sync with your partner and healthy habits:

Be a role model, not a goal setter

We all know how hard it is to change our habits and create new habits, it takes time and constant practice! Lead by example and be a role model rather than setting goals for them; pay attention to your own healthy habit groove, your morning routine, and healthy foods and recipes you make/enjoy. Habit change requires an internal desire or need to change, so be supportive by showing them the way. Give them the space to feel empowered and inspired by what you’re doing, eating, and how you want to live.

To this day, my mom, dad, and brother are fantastic examples of this. I know we can all get excited and want to scream at the top of our lungs “I FEEL AMAZING, I WANT YOU TO FEEL IT TOO!”…but we kinda need to chill out. That can be really overwhelming, intimidating, and can lead them in the opposite direction of adding new healthy habits.

When I want to skip a workout or sleep in, I’ll say “I need to show up for myself right now”. Saying a mantra aloud that resonates with you gives you motivation and sets the tone to inspire your partner with something they want to do for themselves.

Get them involved in the action. 

Cook together! Cooking together is an experience for the both of you, you chop while they cook, you add the dry ingredients and they’ll stir, etc. It’s fun to delegate cooking tasks or items in the meal to find your own “dance” in the kitchen together. My boyfriend and I love cooking and having that special time together in the kitchen with music blasting and some dancing. We didn’t start out that way, I admit I was a kitchen hog and didn’t realize how much he loved to cook (and how good he is!) until we talked about cooking meals for the weekend coming up, which leads me to…

Talk about it!

Chat about meal plans, make a date for cooking at home, organize your grocery shopping trips, etc. Communication is key in any relationship we have, so why would it be any different when it comes to voicing your needs and asking for support or help in new healthy habits you want to establish?

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. If you aren’t feeling support, ask for it and share with your partner your motivation and reasons why you want to make some changes in your lifestyle. Is it for more energy? More variety with recipes? To try new foods? To feel more balanced? Whatever your motivation and reason(s) are, share it and have a conversation about it, it’ll help you both get on the same page and make habit change much more supportive and team effort.

Shop together

Shopping together can be a lot of fun finding new foods and having the entire experience from market to table, as a duo. Most of the time we’ll shop together and I’ve found that he’s more willing and excited to try the new healthy foods we bought together versus times I go shopping solo and put something new on his plate. It’s all about the process and doing things together as a unit.  If you need help getting started, answer these questions:

  • What logistics in scheduling do you need to figure out to make a grocery shopping trip to happen?
  • Can you schedule time together to plan a grocery list?
  • In what ways can you make it feel like a fun experience?
  • What current habits/routines do you both have that you could attach the “go grocery shopping” task to? For example: if you go to Sunday brunch every week, try adding your grocery shopping trip before or after – attach it to an established habit.

Blame it on me

I have my clients do this all the time and it works! “McKel has on my plan where I eat___” “McKel wrote this blog about habits let’s put it to the test…” You can use me as a common thread to give new habits, recipes, or workouts a try! I promise I won’t mind one bit 😉

Don’t forget to have fun

Above all, look at this with a bigger perspective in mind: you want your loved one to feel amazing, healthier, and happier! If I’ve taught you anything from Nutrition Stripped, I hope (fingers crossed) that it’s this: give yourself grace when it comes to changing your lifestyle, take as small of steps as you need while still giving yourself a challenge, and be balanced with it all. It’s okay to have the champagne, just eat your vegetables first.

Remember, there’s no race here or finish line, it’s a process, a journey, and more than anything its part of your life! Patience, support, communication, adventure, and tons of love are key to integrating your personal health habits into multiple lifestyles.


  1. Try squeezing in vegetables, especially in their favorite foods. For example, favorite smoothie? Add a handful of spinach in it
  2. Meal prep galore! Having healthy foods prepped in the fridge or snacks ready to go can be a great way to engage them in trying healthy foods
  3. A list of recipes that are crowd pleasers and #partnerapproved:

I’d LOVE to hear from you about your experience – do you have any challenges with healthy eating with your boyfriend/girlfriend/roommate/spouse?  What challenges do you have with this now, or what have you found to be successful?

xx McKel