Is Your Relationship Making You Fat?
7 easy ways to avoid gaining “love weight.”
-Carrie Vining Spanier
You’ve been seeing him for a few months now, and everything’s going great. You feel so comfortable with him. But then you notice something that’s not so comfortable – i.e., the waistband of your sexiest jeans.
It’s official! You’re a victim of relationship pudge (that’s what I call it, anyway). And it doesn’t take a diet expert to figure out how you piled on the extra pounds. You’ve been going out to dinner with your guy, ordering in for those cozy at-home evenings, making ice-cream runs and snuggling with him on the couch, watching The Notebook with a tissue in one hand and a chocolate chip cookie in the other.
And across the country, hundreds of thousands of other couples are doing exactly the same thing. According to Elizabeth Josefsberg, Director of Brand Advocacy for Weight Watchers, it’s very common for partners to put on “love weight.” Explains Josefsberg, “Any time there’s a dramatic change in life, whether good or bad, weight can be put on.” But these smart, simple changes can stop romance from fattening you up:
*Don’t make every date about food. Avoid habitually going out to dinner, or even regularly going to the movies, where you’ll end up eating a sandpail-sized portion of popcorn. “Play a sport instead,” Josefsberg says. Go for a hike or a swim; if you’re not athletically inclined, a leisurely walk or a visit to a museum can take the focus off meals and snacks.
*Don’t keep a lot of junk food in the house. Try fresh fruit or just one box of low-fat, reduced-calorie snack packs.
*Avoid using food to show love or concern. Don’t cook your sweetheart a high-fat meal if he’s had a bad day, and don’t let him get into the habit of bringing you sweets because he knows you’re stressed. It’s great that you want to soothe each other, but find a way to do that without involving food (long talks, soothing back rubs).
*Follow the classic restaurant dieting rules when you do go out to dinner: Have a green salad (skip the high-fat dressing), a broiled or baked entrée, and if you’ve absolutely got to have dessert, split it between the two of you.
*When you’re snuggling on the couch, make sure it’s just you and him–not you, him and a giant bag of Cheetos.
*Don’t eat because he’s eating. His metabolism is probably twice as high as yours, and chances are you’ll show some pudge long before he does.
*If the two of you are going through a bad phase in your relationship, don’t go into automatic-eating mode. That’s a tough battle because resorting to food in stressful times has a physiological as well as an emotional cause. Says mental-health counselor Amanda Banes, “In stressful and sad times, people often turn to food because it activates the pleasure center of your brain as love and sex do. During those times, the hormones in that area of the brain are not being activated. Food can activate them.” Breathe deeply, take some time to meditate, go for a walk, write in your journal, talk to a friend or therapist.
Carrie Vining Spanier, a freelance writer based in New York City, prefers healthy food to sweets. Usually.