How to avoid gaining weight when you become a couple?
September 8, 2009 6:46 PM   Subscribe

How to avoid gaining weight when you become a couple?

I know the general principles for avoiding gaining weight: eat less, exercise more. But any tips for when life circumstances change – specifically you go from single to a couple?

My boyfriend said a lot of his exes gained weight after they started dating, and I’m worried that it is starting to happen with me. In a way, it’s almost predictable…I’m eating out more and watching calories less, and I have less time in my already tight schedule for workouts now that we’re spending a lot of ‘couple time’ together.

Probably the most diet-unfriendly is the social aspect of eating together. My boyfriend has a larger appetite and can get away with eating more than I do, and more frequently. But since I’m at his house much of the time, I tend to match his schedule and habits and even tastes, and end up feeling deprived if I eat much less than him. This was not really a problem when I was eating dinner alone at home (although I suppose it’s a nice problem to have in the grand scheme of things) and had 100% control of what food was in the fridge and when and what was available to eat (no tempting snacks on hand, etc.).

I know I should just “be stricter” but any tips for how to actually do it without feeling totally deprived?
posted by mintchip to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Exercise together!
posted by you're a kitty! at 6:52 PM on September 8, 2009

It's tough. Here's what we do: yoga together, bike together when we go out together, cook healthy meals together, and have lots of vigorous sex.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:54 PM on September 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

I had this problem with my last SO. I have managed to not replicate it with my current SO in a few different ways

- excercise together, yes! My last SO was a serious cyclist and ate like one. I was not. He'd make big meals and we'd each eat half, not a great idea. At some point we moved towards not splitting the grocery bill 50/50 [we lived together] and this sort of calmed me down more in a weird way about not worrying about eating "my share"
- Split entrees. I eat like a small person a lot of the time. Often we'll go out and get an entree and an appetizer and give him the lion's share of each. We both eat, we both feel like we've had a meal but I'm not eating way more than I should.
- Meet up for certain meals. Doing a sort of on your own thing for breakfast and lunch means I can sort of adjust what I eat in the rest of my day if I know we're having some big dinner out

Snacking was really the big killer for me, so making sure there was an assortment of snacks -- more healthy for me, less healthy for him if he wanted -- was an important part of enjoying eating together. At the end of the day though it's still willpower. If you want to eat more, that's totally okay, you just need to exercise more to stay the same weight. For a lot of people, this is a better compromise than eating less or adjusting eating. Thinking of other ways to work exercise into your routine -- walking/biking to work, elliptical machine at home, etc -- can be a decent way to balance things.
posted by jessamyn at 6:58 PM on September 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Fuck a lot.
posted by runehog at 7:01 PM on September 8, 2009 [6 favorites]

One of the big reasons I gained weight in my first relationship was that I started eating full meals on a schedule. "Oh, it's 12:00, it's time for us to eat lunch together." Then I'd eat a full lunch. "Now it's 7:00, so we should eat dinner." So I'd eat a full dinner.

The problem is, my body doesn't work on the strict schedule that the standard person does. By eating a full lunch and a full dinner, I was actually overeating. I wasn't even necessarily that hungry when 7:00 rolled around, but I ate anyway.

The way to stop it, for me, was to recognize that. So I wouldn't force myself to be hungry for lunch or dinner. If I was, I would eat. If not, I wouldn't.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 7:23 PM on September 8, 2009 [4 favorites]

I've had this problem too, and the best things I can come up with are 1) exercise together and 2) communicate about the issue and actually try to get him to help you with it. That has helped some... One other idea, use smaller dishes for yourself (small bowl vs big bowl) so you both feel like you're getting a full helping of something.
posted by rzperllian at 7:42 PM on September 8, 2009

Use smaller dishes, yes!

You didn't mention much about what you normally eat, but I found that one thing that helps is to know which types of food has more calories in it than others. So cutting down on butter-rich foods in favor of fruits and veggies, for example....
posted by storybored at 7:55 PM on September 8, 2009

Don't just exercise together, but set a goal to run a half marathon together, or something like that. It's easy to skip out on just regular exercise, but when you know you have to be able to run 13 miles soon, you're gonna go for long runs. And 10 mile runs take a long time - that's a lot of couple time, and then jump into the shower together and massage each other, and make healthy smoothies after your run.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 7:55 PM on September 8, 2009

eating out is a huge culprit. try cooking together more often.
posted by bunny hugger at 8:09 PM on September 8, 2009

Have healthier foods in the house. Buy less junk and quick frozen crap meals. If its not in the house, you can't eat it. Eat less fast food. Restrict yourself to a few treats now and then but don't overdo it. Have a lot of fresh veggies ( carrot sticks, celery) at the ready in the fridge so you see them when you open it. Watch some of the weight reducing shows, they are full of tips and hints. I like the idea of setting a goal for the two of you to do together. A marathon ( walking, running) or a long distance bike ride.

Oh, and yeah, what runehog said......
posted by Taurid at 8:51 PM on September 8, 2009

You've got a built-in tennis partner--go hit. You don't have to play games, just go hit some balls and run for the ones you think you can't reach.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:59 PM on September 8, 2009

I like to cook anyway, but an advantage of being the chef of the relationship is that I can make the decisions about how healthy our meals will be. Of course, it's sometimes challenging to find healthy and good tasting and satisfying for a guy but it's been fun for me. Also, plate your own food, you don't need your portions to be as big as his.

On nice days we also take lots of walks together. Just rambles in the neighborhood. Going to the gym together mostly works. I say mostly, because although it's motivational to have a partner goad you into going, it's also easy to also say "screw it" if you can tell the other person is wavering just the tiniest bit. We also tend to go the gym more often if we are planning a snowboarding trip together, so I guess the same applies if you both train for a marathon or something like that.
posted by like_neon at 2:10 AM on September 9, 2009

I've been a part of a couple for over 6 years now. Married my husband over a year ago.

A couple of years ago, I gave up sodas (no plain, no diet), and my appetite changed. I started paying close attention to it. I quit eating when I'm pleasantly full. If I eat too much, I'm miserable. If we all go as a family (2 adults, a 12yo boy, and an 11yo girl, now) to the local wonderful Chinese buffet, everyone eats more than I do, and that's ok. The kids tend to eat more than I do anyway these days, but they are growing up and not out. As long as it's the buffet with more vegetables and less fried stuff, I'm happy.

I've lost over 30 (or maybe 40) pounds, as best as I can tell from pants sizes, since the diet change. I haven't stepped on a scale since I was my biggest, because it was so disheartening. I was 5'4" and around 160 lbs, a weight I had been at varying times (college, my first desk job, and second pregnancy; to me that's too big to be healthy, regardless). Right now, I feel good and I feel like I look ok. This is good. I'm 41 years old and feel pretty healthy. My reflection in the mirror doesn't make me say Ugh. My gut doesn't sit in my lap with me anymore.

I also tend to eat differently from my husband. He likes darker meats and fattier foods. I tend to like lighter things in general. Luckily, my kids are omnivores. Sometimes, they'll all have one thing, and I'll have leftovers from a previous lighter meal. We chalk it up to "Mom has a weird tummy" and no one bats an eye When the kids are at their dad's, my husband and I will often eat differently and at different times, depending on what suits us.

It's ok to have different food needs than your SO. It doesn't have to be a dealbreaker.
posted by lilywing13 at 2:31 AM on September 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe I'm reading too much into this but something about this doesn't quite sit right with me: My boyfriend said a lot of his exes gained weight after they started dating.

If this has been a pattern of his, all his exes gaining weight, it makes me want to look at the common factor: him. If your boyfriend is able to eat basically whatever he wants he's very fortunate or very active. But his apparent method of eating, big and more frequent meals, lots of eating out, etc., is going to make most of the rest of us gain weight, unless we won the metabolism lottery or do a lot of physical activity.

Yes, I realize that we all are responsible for our own dietary choices. But, as America's expanding waistline shows, maintaining a healthy weight and diet is really difficult. Difficult enough without a partner sabotaging our efforts, even if unintentionally. I know if I have tasty but unhealthy foods around I'll eat them, so I choose to not keep foods like chips, ice cream, cookies, etc, on hand. So, while your diet is your responsibility, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect your boyfriend's support and assistance to make it easier for you: less eating out together, cooking healthier meals, keeping junk foods out of the house, and maybe even some shared exercise if he wants to see you during times you would otherwise be working out.

He can eat huge lunches without you and snack on Doritos at work, or whatever, if he needs to scratch his big eating itch.
posted by 6550 at 7:10 AM on September 9, 2009 [3 favorites]

Portion control is a huge deal. It's natural to just serve each person the same amount of food, but not everyone needs the same amount. If one of you is eating less, serve less. Naively splitting the food 50/50 may lead to problems.
posted by explosion at 7:52 AM on September 9, 2009

I've been on a diet for six months and will testify that it is almost ESSENTIAL that in order to maintain a healthy diet for a person like me (who loves to eat) that your better half be on-board with you. Not necessarily dieting themselves because my boyfriend has not -- but has been incredibly supportive of not suggesting we go get ice cream or get snacks at the movies, etc.

If we go to the movies now, I sneak in a bottle of water with crystal light. Or whatever diet soda I want. Or just water. And then I'll also sneak in some healthy snacks. Sugar free hard candy is my favorite. Or I'll even make some microwave popcorn and sneak that in. WAY better than the popcorn at the theater which has gobs of butter even if you don't ask for the 'extra' butter.

If he wants to go get ice cream ... we walk up to baskin robbins or wherever.

We eat at home more. Not only has it saved my waistline but it has saved us probably a thousand dollars easy over the last six months from not going out to chain restaurants where its harder to predict calories.

Instead - we go to subway. And YES, we walk if we can.

Make dinner dates more special by making them less frequent. Go for walks, the fall season is upon us! Go apple/pumpkin picking. SKIP the cider and donuts or just get a small batch of each.

Just smarter choices food wise and coming up with more physical activities to do together. It will make you a smarter/stronger/happier couple. PROMISE.
posted by mittenbex at 10:43 AM on September 9, 2009

I agree with runehog. It's hard to eat (or think about eating) when you are otherwise engaged. The eating out thing is brutal too. Slow food is the way to go.
posted by Wendy BD at 3:04 PM on September 9, 2009

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