How to Talk to the Men You Love about Their HealthMay 31, 2022 08:00AM ● By Chelsea Kazmierczak-Goethel
There is strong societal consensus that men are the stronger gender. This idea often rings true when considering speed, muscle mass and even bone density. From the perspective of other health markers, unfortunately, the male gender does not always take the lead.
Consider the longevity gap. The average life expectancy for men is 76.1 years, and 81.1 years for women. Along with a shorter lifespan, men also tend to be more burdened by disease. Men are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and have a higher prevalence for serious chronic conditions, including many types of cancer.
Men are also less likely to seek care from healthcare providers, according to surveys conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To top it off, men are more likely to engage in risky and health-damaging behaviors, such as drinking, smoking and eating an unhealthy diet. All of this combined has created a situation wherein nearly 90 percent of heterosexual couples, the female takes the lead as the health advocate.
For those who identify as the health-conscious, but concerned spouse or partner, let’s dive into some ways to talk to men about taking care of themselves and taking control of their health. (It is not only men who may be resistant to adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking care of themselves. These tips can be utilized to encourage any loved one, whether it’s a partner, sibling or parent, to seek a better state of health and wellness.
Communicate the reasons for encouraging him to be healthy. Motivation that comes from a positive place focused on the future, such as time with family, travel or many active years together, is more likely to stick. Help him identify his “why” within the partnership, and for himself as an individual. If weight is an issue, ensure that he understands this is about feeling better—not simply looking better—to avoid making him feel self-conscious.
Frame motivating factors in an optimistic light. Focusing on preventing disease or other negative outcomes may seem daunting. Instead, emphasize the positives of eating more nutritious food and moving more. Additionally, let him know that his presence is more important than anything else.
Focus on and accentuate positive behaviors. Highlight the good health habits already in place, especially when he is actively engaging in them. These can be related to exercise, diet or stress management. Instead of nagging or complaining about an unhealthy behavior, compliment what will ultimately help him be healthier. This will create more open communication and increase the likelihood that other healthy habits will be considered in the future.
Set realistic expectations. The movement and eating habits that work well for the health-minded partner may be drastically different than that of their loved one. Don’t expect a sudden shift from couch potato to CrossFit enthusiast or pizza lover to salad aficionado. Set him up for success by focusing on small changes in which he is interested. Perhaps it’s one less soda per day, or 10 more minutes of physical activity—any step in the right direction is a win.
Take the lead. Some diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, have similar rates among genders, highlighting the importance for everyone to take control of their health via habit shifts. Before asking him to change his habits, ensure that the example is being set. The standards for health should be similar for both members of a couple.
Reduce consumption of processed grains and foods with added sugars.
Aim to consume three to four cups (six to eight servings) of vegetables and one to two cups (two to four servings) of fruit per day.
Choose fresh, whole foods prepared at home instead of take-out or fast food.
Emphasize stress-reducing habits such as journaling, yoga or meditation.
Adopt healthy movement habits, ideally 150 minutes per week, including strength training.
Work to create an environment that sets him up for success by removing junk food from the house and encouraging doable physical activities.
Give these ideas a try, and give new habits time to sink in.
Sometimes, an outside source of advice is needed to truly impact health change. The holistic nutrition professionals at MetroEast Natural Healing Center, in Oakdale, specialize in individualized health improvement plans and are ready to help.
A holistic practitioner at MetroEast Natural Healing Center, Chelsea Kazmierczak-Goethel, MSACN, is advanced clinically trained in Nutrition Response Testing, holds a bachelor's degree in Human Physiology, and a Master of Science in Applied Clinical Nutrition. The return of joy and optimum health to her patients happily fuels her every day. She is ongoingly grateful to be a part of the healing journey with so many patients. For more information, visit NutritionChiropractic.com.
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