Supporting spouse weight loss while maintaining own weight
September 28, 2012 8:24 AM   Subscribe

How do I help support my husband with his diet while maintaining my own weight?

We have a bit of a eating/meal planning challenge going on in our house. We have a four-month-old, exclusively breastfed son. With the extra breastfeeding calories, I lost my pregnancy weight fairly quickly and, despite my best efforts, I am dipping below my pre-pregnancy weight. For a variety of reasons I’d prefer to stay at my current size.

My husband hasn’t had the benefit of breastfeeding to lose the weight that he put on with me during pregnancy, and he’s expressed a desire to lose his pregnancy weight.

I’m trying to eat as many nutrient dense foods as possible as snacks while at work (e.g., hard boiled eggs, nuts, avocado, etc.). For dinner, my husband is responsible for the cooking. He usually makes fairly healthy dinners (e.g., smaller piece of chicken with veggies; bean and grain based salads), but we do end up eating take out a couple of times a week as there never seems to be enough time in a day.

I’d like to support his diet effort as much as possible, but am trying to figure out how I can add some additional calories without sabotaging his effort.

Any ideas?
posted by statsgirl to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Add stealthy things to your portions of the meals he makes. Full-fat sour cream on tacos and chilis, butter on rolls, etc. Also, could you squeeze in a "between lunch and dinner" meal sometime late in the work day? A sandwich or a big bowl of chowder or some other calorie-dense thing that is more than just a snack?
posted by xingcat at 8:28 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

You have a nice problem. Congrats on your baby!

Pile those calories on at breakfast. Or at a meal that you eat once you've arrived at work.

How about a fruity smoothie with lots of yummy add ins? (Oh hell, just have a malt!)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:41 AM on September 28, 2012

I would try for add-ons; if you make something likes vegetable side dish, cook with very little fat. Serve his as-is; then put an extra tablespoon of olive oil on yours. I think it will probably be easiest for him if you don't keep a lot of foods like ice cream around, but adding olive oil to your food probably won't make it any harder for him.

Liquid calories are also great for gaining / maintaining weight - juice, milk, yogurt smoothies, etc. your husband can drink a calorie-free beverage at meals, you can drink something with calories at/ between meals. If you start to have a real problem maintaining your weight, there's always things like Ensure - very dense, easy liquid calories.

It was hard for me to gain weight when my calorie needs were high - and I'm sure it's even harder when you have a baby and are trying to balance different family dietary needs. Liquid calories were the easiest thing for me because they didn't make me uncomfortably full.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:09 AM on September 28, 2012

It sounds like you're doing a lot of the right things at work. Adding foods like nuts, avocado, full-fat cheese, etc., for your snacks at work will help you to maintain the weight while not "flaunting" your additional eating in front of your husband. Eating larger portions of the healthier foods that you are eating together will also help. It doesn't even have to look too large; depending on your relative body weight, it's possible that his reduced portion size will be equivalent to a larger portion for you, so eating the same amount as he does may not stress him out too much.

When you're eating out, it should be even easier to eat higher calorie meals, since you don't have to eat the same thing as your husband. You also get to reach for the bread and butter, or the tortilla chips, more often than he does.

Adding smoothies or malts is also a good way to keep up your weight. If you want to share this, you can make yours with ice cream and his without (or with reduced fat yogurt). As long as you keep up the moral support, you guys should be able to do this together.

Good luck, and congrats on the new addition to your family!
posted by blurker at 9:16 AM on September 28, 2012

I'm curious whether his diet is healthy enough. Men can generally eat 500 more calories a day than women due to the increased natural muscle mass. This should mean that eating at your maintain level would mean a 500 calorie deficit for him and hence losing a healthy pound a week.
posted by Wysawyg at 10:21 AM on September 28, 2012

Men can generally eat 500 more calories a day than women due to the increased natural muscle mass.

Breastfeeding burns way more calories than that each day. Also, it sounds like statsgirl has a faster metabolism than her husband does.

So I am in a somewhat similar situation, though not because of a baby (about which, mazel tov! so wonderful!) I need to eat small portions of calorie-dense food so I don't lose weight too quickly; my husband wants to lose weight and eat large portions of calorie-sparse food.

My solution is to add calorie-dense snacks during the day, which I see you're already doing, and to have a calorie-dense dessert after a dinner that is fairly calorie-sparse because I'm sharing it with my husband. Also blue cheese dressing or hollandaise sauce on pretty much every vegetable (this may not work for you if you have a tendency to high cholesterol, though). And guacamole; I have guacamole with lots of foods that you wouldn't think would be good with it (guacamole is amazing with grilled salmon, fyi).

Another thing you might want to think about is adding a nutritional supplement drink like older folks who have trouble keeping their weight up do. Or make it a high-protein (good for breastfeeding!) shake like body builders do. Muscle Milk from GNC is pretty palatable.

It is so hard to reverse the conventional wisdom and try to eat more calories while trying to maintain a right-for-you balance of protein/fat/carbohydrates!
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:03 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, I also have desserts my husband doesn't like, and I have them after dinner in a different room, not at the table while he's still seated.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:05 AM on September 28, 2012

It sounds like he's preparing and eating nutrient-dense healthy things, and you just need a supplement. Is there a reason you can't ask him to cook more of the same things he's already making?
For me, my husband is bigger/taller/hungrier than me, and when I make a pot of whatever for dinner, it's assumed I'll take 1/3-2/5 and he'll take the other 3/5-2/3. His portion is bigger than mine, and that's the way we plan it. For you, sounds like you need to reverse that, make sure you get enough food. He can keep eating exactly the same amount he's eating now, just adjust his perception of who gets the bigger plate, and you eat more than he does.
posted by aimedwander at 12:10 PM on September 28, 2012

If part of it is that you're trying to inconspicuously consume more calories, consider having your husband use a slightly smaller plate. His portions will seem larger in comparison.

For liquid calories, consider adding a latte to your morning ritual (probably decaf if you're breastfeeding). Trust me; I know from bitter experience that this easily adds a few hundred painless calories to your diet.
posted by Hylas at 3:32 PM on September 28, 2012

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