Forget the Freshman 15. What About the Married 20?

Barbara Martin

“I think we need to separate.”

These were the first words uttered out of my mouth one morning to my husband of over 20 years.  My husband was, rightfully so, shocked and confused by my dramatic announcement made before he even finished his first cup of coffee.  That morning, I had finally figured out why I was getting fat. It is my husband; he makes me fat and I make him fat.

When it comes to indulging in food and alcohol with my husband, I am amazed how easy it is for me to drop my stringent internal rules and mindlessly overindulge.  We have so much fun together; bonding through eating and trying new wines that, at times, it is hard to reign in our food party.  We are not alone in our struggle, studies show that overindulging food and drink can be socially contagious: just having a friend who is gaining weight makes you over 50% more likely to do so yourself.  Researchers also find that couples typically have higher BMIs (body mass index) than singles, with over 60% of married couples reporting that they gained weight after getting married.  Your partner may just be plain bad for your waistline.

Should you separate to shape up?

The good news is that according to research, gaining weight together is also a good indication that you’re happy and satisfied in your relationship. So separating to become svelte is probably a little drastic and unnecessary.  The same way you and your partner learned how to affect one another’s weight gain is the same way you can both unlearn your gluttonous behaviors.  You were a team mindlessly packing on the pounds and now you can apply that great same team effort to beat back the bulge.

A couple that mindfully eats together, stays healthy together.

If you feel that your partner is making you fat, here are 7 ways you and your partner can reverse your overindulgent tendencies and launch into a mindfully satiating connection:

  1. Design a meal plan for each week.

    Plan what you will eat for dinner each night or at least during the work week, when most of us are typically too tired to whip up some awe inspiring creation by Giada De Larentiis.  Make a list of all the ingredients you will need for each recipe and pick them up at the grocery store at the beginning of the week.  Preparation is key to setting yourself up for success.

  2.  Commit to healthy choices with your partner when you dine out.

    Peruse the restaurant’s online menu and make a decision on healthy choices you will order before you enter the restaurant. When you are at the restaurant, hold each other accountable for your premeditated choices.

  3. Plan for alcohol free nights.

    Commit to alcohol free nights. Try to aim for 3-4 alcohol free nights per week.  Added bonus… see how much better you will both sleep!

  4. Discover non-food and drink activities as a primary way of spending time together.

    Over time couples may fall into an uncreative and unhealthy rut of spending every date at a restaurant or bar.  Collaborate on a list of healthy ways to spend time together that does not involve food and drink.  Activities such as hiking, biking or attending a museum are just a few of numerous pleasurable things to do together that don’t involve eating and drinking.

  5. Stock your kitchen with healthy snack choices.

    If ice cream and cookies are your kryptonite, probably best not to have them in your kitchen.  Stock your cupboards with healthy alternatives such as fruit and vegetables so you will not have access to unhealthy cravings.

  6. Explore and cook healthy recipes together.

    Discovering healthy recipes and creating them together can bring a couple a lot of joy.  Try watching a cooking show together or taking turns sharing healthy recipes on Pinterest.  Cooking together can be a bonding experience that also strengthens your commitment to eating healthily.

  7.  Get more sleep.

    One of the best ways couples can care for one another is supporting each other’s quest for good sleep hygiene. Studies show that there is a direct link between getting enough sleep and weight loss.  Set a bed time that allows you both enough sleep and hold one another accountable to that commitment.

So, the next time you and your partner crave a cheeseburger in paradise, forget the burger and take charge together in making healthier lifestyle choices.

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