Have you gained weight since entering a long-term relationship? If so, you’re not alone. Research shows that many happy couples tend to gain weight, beginning in the early stages of a relationship and lasting into commitment. But it’s not inevitable; you can take steps to avoid relationship weight gain.
“When you enter a relationship, your behaviors and environment can change as you prioritize building a bond with your partner. Your dates may include trying new restaurants or bars together rather than cooking healthy foods at home. In addition, you may prioritize spending time with your partner over going to the gym.
Over time, these changes in your habits can lead to weight gain,” says Maunda Snodgrass, PsyD, a psychologist in the Bariatric Surgery Program at Henry Ford Health. “But couples can control their weight and health by adopting new habits together.”
Relationship Behaviors That Contribute To Weight Gain
When entering a relationship, many people stretch their boundaries, putting aside healthy habits they may have followed in the past. New-relationship behaviors that can contribute to weight gain include:
- Eating out more frequently: Many couples go out to eat on dates, trying new restaurants and cuisines. Larger restaurant portions and high-calorie menu items can lead to weight gain.
- Drinking more alcohol: Couples tend to drink more alcohol as they socialize, whether eating out or at home. Each drink adds more calories to your daily diet.
- Spending less time exercising: It’s easy to prioritize spending time with your partner over your fitness routine. You're more likely to gain weight as you consume more calories and reduce your physical activity.
- Changing your eating habits: To get along, some people change their eating habits to fit their partners. For example, you may have started skipping breakfast if your partner doesn’t eat until later in the day. The longer you wait to eat your first meal of the day, the hungrier you’ll be and the more calories you’ll consume. You may also choose fewer healthy food options if your partner does not share the same preferences.
- Being less concerned about your appearance: In the early days of a relationship, each person tries to look their best. Over time, you may feel more secure in your relationship and no longer prioritize eating healthy foods and exercising to maintain a healthy weight.
How You And Your Partner Can Lose Weight And Get Healthy Together
“Happy couples can strengthen their bond by making their health a priority,” Dr. Snodgrass says. “Share your health goals with your partner and discuss how you can support each other as you work toward wellness.”
She recommends that couples begin with these strategies to achieve a healthy lifestyle:
- Make a weekly meal plan: You may prefer to cook at home while your partner likes eating out. Plan your meals to account for cooking at home, eating leftovers and going out. Aim for a well-balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Try these healthy swaps to reduce fat and sodium in your diet. Practice mindful eating by having meals at a table rather than in front of the television.
- Make dates more than a meal out: Strengthen your bond by finding activities you can do together, such as starting a new hobby, taking a class or exploring new places within your community.
- Start an exercise program together: When you work out together, you can have fun and motivate each other to stay on track. Aim for 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per week. Get moving by taking a morning walk and learning a new sport like pickleball.
- Adopt healthy sleep routines: Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night can help you maintain a healthy weight, recharge your mind and improve your overall health. Practice good sleep habits by turning off your computer, phone and television at least one hour before bedtime. Keep your bedroom dark and cool to help you sleep through the night.
- Support each other in reaching your wellness goals: Encourage healthy eating habits without policing each other’s food choices. If you or your partner have certain foods that trigger overeating, avoid bringing them into your home. Encourage your partner to see their doctor for regular checkups, screenings and vaccinations.
Looking for more information about weight loss solutions or want to make an appointment with a physician at Henry Ford? Call 1-800-436-7936 or visit henryford.com.
Dr. Maunda Snodgrass is a psychologist who sees patients at One Ford Place in Detroit.