You are more likely to gain weight if you consistently eat

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5 Reasons Coupling Up Can Lead to Weight Gain — and 5 Solutions

There are certain side effects of being in a relationship. Falling in love may give you the warm fuzzies. The birds may sing a little bit louder. And you might also see your health habits fly out the window — and therefore, gain weight.

“Surveys show that people who are part of a couple may no longer feel pressure to look their best. They may eat out more frequently or order more takeout, and adopt more sedentary habits,” says Angel Planells, RDN, a Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. He points to an Australian study published in February 2018 in PLOS One that found that while couples were more likely to have healthy habits (like not smoking and limiting fast-food intake), they were still less likely to be a normal weight when compared with singles.

5 Scenarios Where Being in a Relationship May Lead to Weight Gain

If this sounds like you, you can get your diet and exercise habits back on track. Even if they don’t result in weight loss, they’ll still make you feel good.

1. You’ve Abandoned Your Personal Wellness Routine

You used to eat at home and bring your own lunch to work. “Now your lunch routine may be disrupted, and you’re going out for dinner and not having leftovers,” says Planells. You’d be surprised at how caloric restaurants can make even simple dishes. Meaning: Eating out is going to lead to consuming more sugar, fat, and sodium, he says.

RELATED: 9 Things Nutritionists Order at Panera Bread

2. You’re Unintentionally Adopting Your Partner’s Unhealthy Habits

You had your eating and food prep down, and then you met your partner, and what and when you ate changed. “Sometimes eating behavior can be influenced by the new partner. You might try new foods or eat more frequently or later in the day ,” says Mascha Davis, RDN, who’s based in Los Angeles.

3. You’re Having More Alcohol When You Go on Dates

If, for you, dating means meeting for drinks, that’s okay — as long as you’re sticking to one or two drinks (for women and men, respectively), says Davis. In a phenomenon that’s been called the “drunchies,” even moderate drinking before a meal increased the number of calories eaten by 11 percent, and people reported that they were more likely to crave high-fat foods, per a study published in June 2015 in the journal Appetite.

4. You’re Hanging Out More — and Now Your Fitness Regimen Is Taking a Back Seat

Finding a show you both love to binge-watch does bring you closer, per a study published in September 2017 in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, so it’s no wonder that you two are planting yourselves on the couch now. Likewise, you may skip yoga class after work to spend more time with your S.O., so you’re less active, too, says Planells.

RELATED: A Detailed Guide to Fitness — and Why It’s About Way More Than Hitting the Gym

5. You’re Sharing a Bed, and Your Sleep Is Suffering as a Result

If sleepovers are happening, just know that you’re probably not snagging the shut-eye you got when snoozing solo. Sleeping in the same bed as your partner can increase nighttime disturbances by 50 percent, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And in part thanks to a snoring male partner, bed-sharing sleep issues are more common in women, according to the foundation. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is linked to a higher risk of weight gain, as it may affect the hormones that govern hunger and appetite, according to the National Institutes of Health.

How to Get Your Healthy Habits Back on Track

1. Get Your Head in the Game and Revert to Your Old Ways

If you’ve stepped off the healthy living path because you’ve been wrapped up in a new relationship, that’s completely understandable. But you can hop back on — even if your partner eats an unhealthy diet. “Just go by what you have always done and recognize that healthy eating makes you feel better,” says Ilyse Schapiro, RD, the coauthor of Should I Scoop Out My Bagel? and a certified dietitian nutritionist in the New York City metropolitan area.

RELATED: 5 Tricks for Getting Enough Fruit and Veggies

2. Whip Up a Homemade Healthy Meal Together for Date Night

Going out to dinner and trying new restaurants can be really exciting, but if it’s getting out of hand, it’s time to get reacquainted with your own kitchen. “Have date nights where you cook healthy meals together. This way you can still enjoy a meal together but you know what you’re eating,” says Davis. A study published in June 2015 in the journal Public Health Nutrition found that people who cooked dinner most days of the week consumed fewer calories and less fat and sugar compared with people who ate at home one or zero times per week. Don’t know what to cook? Meal delivery kits make DIY meals feel fancy.

3. Recommit to Getting Your Sweat On at the Gym

Your partner may be reluctant to go to the gym, and honestly, it’s not your job to drag them there — that’s a big ask. Instead, focus on your own behavior. A study published in March 2015 in JAMA Internal Medicine found that when one partner changes their health for the better (for instance, starts exercising), the other is more likely to follow their lead. Another tactic is planning more active dates, including going on a hike or a bike ride.

RELATED: 10 Amazing Benefits of Exercise

4. Hit a Restaurant With Healthy Options if You’re Planning on Dining Out

Eating in can be a lovely, bonding, and healthy experience, but of course you’re going to go out sometimes. Schapiro recommends having a few restaurants in your rotation that you know have healthy choices. “Look at the menu prior to the date so you can plan ahead. It’s easier to make healthier choices with a plan in place,” she says.

5. Encourage Healthy Eating Habits for Your Partner (Gently)

If you’re a vegetable lover but your partner isn’t, you can let your preferences rub off on them. Maybe skip those they may balk at (like kale) in favor of friendlier picks. “Get creative. Cover broccoli with cheese on top instead of mac and cheese or make buffalo cauliflower,” says Schapiro. “The more exposure they have to healthy eating, the more it will rub off on them,” she adds.

Your Happy Marriage Is Making You Fat

Married men and women are more likely to be overweight than single people even though they are also more likely to monitor their diets and eat healthier food. How is this possible? Research indicates that partnered people wind up with love handles because people love them. Happy relationships lead to weight gain because meals are shared and partners feel secure. Fat, hot, and happy is, according to science, a real phenomenon.

The combination of commitment and cohabitation may have everything to do with relationship weight gain — newlyweds gain four to five pounds on average in their first year — but researchers have historically struggled to pinpoint clear mechanisms that explain the girthiness of the joyfully committed.

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“Happy couples eat healthier but weigh more. This is the finding of our study which is consistent with other previous studies but not all,” explains Stephanie Schoeppe, a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Central Queensland University who recently released what might be the most authoritative study on in-relationship spread. “However, our study examined a large population sample — over 15,000 adults — hence our findings provide a significant insight into this topic.”

Schoeppe is getting closer to unraveling the mystery of the fat and happy? How? She and her team pooled data from the annual Queensland Social Survey, that included 15,001 adults. Questionnaires tracked if people were married or single, as well as a number of lifestyle factors such as whether or not they smoked, how often they exercised and ate vegetables and their BMIs. Results revealed that couples smoked less, ate less fast food, and did not drink as much alcohol compared to single people. And yet they were less likely to be within a normal weight range than singles.

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Schoeppe found that couples were more likely to plan meals around quality time together and that, although family meals were linked with greater fruit and vegetable consumption, they were also linked to larger portions and more consumption across the board. Single people eating alone tended to consume less. Likewise, it’s possible that couples are more willing to gain weight because they’re not trying to attract a new mate in the market. The study did not look at if relationship happiness made people weigh more or less or look at fluctuation over time. Schoeppe plans to look at how additional variables may affect how much couples gain weight as well, like age.

“We are currently working on a follow-up study that examines whether the associations between relationship status and healthy lifestyle factors differ by age,” she says.

While the study did not look at the whether or not relationship weight represents a health issue, psychologist Wyatt Fisher, who was not involved in the study, recommends that couples who are concerned about their weight make an effort to exercise regularly and be more conscious of portions. He also recommends that couples have preemptive conversations about weight before it comes up because it likely will at some juncture. It’s important for the sustained happiness of relationships that couples understand how their spouse is likely to react to their changing shape.

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“Couples should proactively discuss weight gain early in their relationship to see if it is a concern for either of them and why,” Fisher says. “If it is a concern, couples should discuss how to prevent it from happening, such as making healthy dinners and exercising together.”

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Research says marriage makes men fatter

The study shows that married men are on average 1.4 Kg heavier than their non-married counterparts. Credit: University of Bath

Being married makes men gain weight, and the early days of fatherhood add to the problem, finds new research from the University of Bath’s School of Management.

The study shows that married men have a higher body mass index (BMI) than their non-married counterparts, adding approximately three pounds or 1.4kg to the scales.

There’s no effect on male BMI if their wife becomes pregnant, but in the early years after childbirth men gain weight. It takes the period just before and after divorce to register a dip in male BMI.

The findings clear up the confusion of competing theories put forward by social scientists linking BMI to marital status. It confirms the idea that people who are single but seeking marriage have more incentive to stay fit and make more effort than those who are married.

It also supports the theory that marriage leads to more social occasions involving richer foods, or more regular meals for men; while putting paid to the idea that married couples have better physical health because of increased social support.

The study of heterosexual couple in the United States, between 1999 and 2013, used data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and is published in the journal Social Science and Medicine.

Dr Joanna Syrda, Business Economist in the School of Management, said: “It’s useful for individuals to understand which social factors may influence weight gain, especially common ones such as marriage and parenthood, so that they can make informed decisions about their health and well-being. For married men who want to avoid BMI increases that will mean being mindful of their own changing motivation, behaviour and eating habits.

“Given major public health concerns about obesity, understanding more about the social science factors that can cause weight fluctuation is important.”

The impact of marriage and parenthood on male body mass index: Static and dynamic effects is published in Social Science & Medicine.

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Married LGBT older adults are healthier, happier than singles, study finds More information: Joanna Syrda. The impact of marriage and parenthood on male body mass index: Static and dynamic effects, Social Science & Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.05.033 Journal information: Social Science and Medicine , Social Science & Medicine Provided by University of Bath Citation: Research says marriage makes men fatter (2017, June 21) retrieved 2 February 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-06-marriage-men-fatter.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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Marriage and divorce are life-changing events, the effects of which are evident in innumerable ways — including on the bathroom scale.

Both marriage and divorce appear to lead to weight gain among couples, but each occasion affects men and women differently, according to a new study. Researchers from Ohio State University found that women tended to gain more weight than men after marriage, while after a divorce, men’s girth expanded more than women’s.

Previous studies of weight gain and coupledom have looked at average gains and losses, but sociology professor Zhenchao Qian and his doctoral student Dmitry Tumin decided to break down the weight effects by gender to better understand whether marital transitions affected men differently than women.

The researchers looked at survey data from a nationally representative sample of more than 10,000 men and women who were 14 to 22 years old when the survey began in 1979. The participants were questioned every year until 1994, and then every other year afterward.

(PHOTOS: Love and Marriage on TV)

The scientists found interesting gender differences when they focused on the two-year mark after a marriage or divorce. Although both men and women who married tended to gain weight compared with their counterparts who stayed single, women tended to gain more weight than men.

Two years after a divorce, separated partners tended to be heavier compared with couples who remained married, but conversely, men posted larger weight gains than women.

The study did not delve into what particular lifestyle habits — in diet or physical activity, for example — may have changed after either marriage or divorce to lead to weight gain, but the relationship between weight and life events remained strong after the researchers accounted for potential confounding factors such as race, obesity at the start of the study, education and income.

Qian and Tumin have some theories, based on previous research by others on the subject. Following marriage, the researchers suggest, wives may encourage their husbands to adopt a healthier lifestyle, helping men maintain their weight or even lose a few excess pounds. After divorce, however, men may return to their pound-packing habits.

(READ: Unemployed Men Are More Likely to Divorce)

Women, on the other hand, may tend to eat more and exercise less after getting married and starting a family because of the stresses of child bearing and maintaining a household.

“Marital transitions, like any change in life, have an impact on people,” says Qian. “There is a shock to these events, and our research shows that men and women deal with them differently. Never-married women tend to take care of their health and body more carefully than never-married men, for example, so after marriage, women are more likely to gain compared to their never-married counterparts. Men, on the other hand, gain from the supervision that comes with being part of a family, so they tend to lose weight after marriage compared to women.”

The effects were strongest among those who were 30 or older at the time they married or divorced. Younger people didn’t show as consistent a pattern in weight gain or loss after such events.

The new data are being presented on Monday in Las Vegas at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Alice Park is a writer at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @aliceparkny. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

READ: Is Divorce Counseling for Happily Married Women Really Necessary?

Marriage or getting into a relationship is a big change in a person’s lifestyle. People involved will see a change in their activity, behaviour, mood and shockingly, weight!

According to a report by The Star, a study found that as couples get comfortable with each other and physical attraction is no longer a need, people in relationship averagely gained 5.7 kg a year while singles only gain 1.7kg a year.

Scientists from Central Queensland University, Australia, analyzed data from around 15,000 people over a 10-year time period for a study on this. Lead researcher Stephanie Schoeppe explained the result citing that people in relationship tend to lose track of their eating habits and they stop caring to look lean in order to attract their loved ones anymore. So watch out guys…is this the price of true love? Sounds like the epic love story of Shrek and Fiona.

Source: Tenor

Parent-couples also take up a new eating role in life and that is to finish their children’s food, according to Schoeppe. Apparently, these happy couples get their weight from romantic dinners and other food-related social behaviours, said Jerica Berge, associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s department of family medicine and community health. Hahaha. Ice-cream date lah, cafe-hopping date lah, 6 monthsary dinner lah. Celebrate catching a Pokemon together lah. You name it, they will find a reason for it.

Here’s a cute scene of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook. Source: gifer

That is just talking about weight. Other than the gluttony part of a relationship, living together and being in love is actually healthier for couples compared to singles. Researchers at Central Queensland University claim that couples tend to eat more fruit, quit smoking, avoid alcohol and exercise together. Add in these positive feelings and it will automatically pile up the happy kilos.

Hold your breath for the next line. Drum roll please.

Apparently, it’s also reported that people who live with their romantic partners have a 10-15% higher life expectancy as couples would tend to take care of each other’s well-being. Now isn’t this a lovely way to grow fat and old together and live belly full ever after.

Can Love Make You Gain Weight?

When you’re single, life seems to be all about you: your schedule, your time, your goals.

But when you become smitten by that special someone, things change. You first catch each other’s eye, you go on a first date, and then you wonder how you ever lived without this person in your life.

Unfortunately, there’s evidence out there that throws a wrench in the notion that being in a happy relationship is always beneficial to one’s health. New couples tend to go out more than established couples, which often means fewer healthy meals, and time spent sipping cocktails while gazing into each other’s eyes. While sweet and romantic, these new infatuations can also mean weight gain, which increases your risk of other health problems.

Whether your couple goals are Han and Leia or Posh and Becks, at least some of those goals should include keeping each other healthy.

Newlyweds Tend to Gain Weight

Anyone who has been married knows all too well about the work you need to put in to looking good on your wedding day, including months of exercise and diet. (And spray-tanning, if you’re on “Bridezillas.”)

But what happens after you’ve taken those perfect wedding photos?

One study that tracked the weights of over 8,000 people found that, on average, married women gain 24 pounds in the first five years of marriage. Women who cohabitate, but aren’t married, only gain 18 pounds, while women who are in a relationship but living separately gain 15 pounds.

Men also gain weight, but there weren’t many differences between men who were married and men who were just living with a partner.

The researchers concluded that living together increases both men and women’s risk for obesity. (The study only looked at straight couples, so the jury is still out on whether there are similar trends in non-heterosexual couples.)

Other research has found that young newlyweds who are happy with their marriage tend to put on extra weight. In contrast, couples who weren’t as satisfied with their relationship tend to gain less weight.

Researchers concluded that the reason why happy couples gain weight is because they are less motivated to maintain their weight when they don’t need to attract a mate.

So, if your partner has gained some weight, chances are high that they think you’re the one.

Weight Gain Is Contagious

In the 8,000 person study mentioned above, researchers noted that going from being single or dating, to married or living together, is positively associated with obesity. Women who live with a romantic partner have an increased chance of becoming obese within a year, and men’s odds increase within two years. As a whole, married couples are most likely to experience this weight gain within two years.

This is called “concordance.” One study found that if one person in a married couple becomes obese, their spouse has a 37 percent higher chance of becoming obese, too.

Most research on the topic of couple weight gain agrees that the cause is quite simple: behavior is contagious. When you’re living in close proximity with someone else — someone who you want to spend time with, that is — you’re more likely to eat the same things, and do the same activities.

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Married People Still Eat Healthier

Nine studies that looked at the behaviors of people in different parts of Europe all found that people who have never been married tend to have a lower body mass index.

However, they also found that married people were more likely to eat healthier foods. How does this make sense? The researchers think it’s because married people pay less attention to dietary fat, as well as to their body weight.

Also, married men were found to exercise less than single men, which links back to the notion of caring less about your appearance.

Exercise Together, Stay Healthy Together

If you’re in a happy relationship, you have to take care of each other’s hearts — and we don’t just mean romantically.

Here are some ways couples can take care of each other’s health:

Exercise Together

It can begin with a walk after dinner, and progress to running marathons together. If kids are preventing you from leaving the house at the same time, try an exercise video — the kids might even want to join in on the fun. Whatever it is, exercise can help fight off the dreaded relationship weight while spending time together.

Eat Out Less

When you dine out, you don’t have control over what goes into your food. Restaurants are havens for excess fat and salt, which can contribute to weight gain.

Choose Healthier Snacks

When it is time to stay in, stock your place with fruits, vegetables, and nuts instead of chips and other unhealthy snacks.

Don’t Skip Visits to the Doctor

Couples can also care for one another by getting routine health checks from their doctors, as well as keeping each other accountable for health goals.

9 Things Every Man Needs to Get Checked

Love fat-tually! Happy couples grow chubby together, claims science

The traits of a happy couple are many. They love each other very much, they are honest and open with each other, and always respectful and caring when it comes to each others needs.

But there’s another characteristic of a happy couple that will surprise you, and perhaps have you exclaiming, “Ah! No wonder!” When a couple are happy together, they tend to put on weight!

Here’s what science says about healthy relationships weight gain.

Healthy relationships weight gain: what does science say about it?

Healthy relationships weight gain is real

Several scientific studies have shown that one result of a happy relationship is weight gain for both parties. In fact, it’s a striking pattern noticed in many couples.

In one study, researchers tracked 169 newly married couples over four years. During this time, they measured each person’s weight, as well as tracked their general happiness and how satisfied they were in their marriages.

The results? Those couples who reported they were in happy marriages also gained weight over the study period. Those who did not gain weight, on the other hand, were more likely to separate.

A study undertaken by the University of Queensland, Australia is another example.

After tracking 15,000 people over 10 years, researchers discovered that on average, people in a relationship were 12.7 pounds heavier than their single peers. People who had partners also had gained a mean weight of 3.9 pounds per year.

Healthy relationships weight gain: Why do people in happy relationships gain weight?

In the first study we mention, researchers had an interesting theory. They suggest that those in happy, stable relationships no longer were under pressure to find/attract another mate. So, they literally let it all go, and were happy to be comfortable in their own skins!

In the next study, it was discovered that the usual unhealthy lifestyle habits – fried food, smoking, alcohol – aren’t the biggest culprits for weight gain in couples. As a matter of fact, couples in the study included a good variety of fruits and vegetables in their diets.

Rather, the researchers found a more behavioural basis for this weight gain. As people live together, they tend to imitate their partner’s lifestyle routines as well, and not all of these are healthy.

For example…

1. Women Eating the Same Portion Sizes as Men

A good example of adapting to others’ lifestyle habits would be that women eat equal, if not more, portions of food than men. This warped understanding of portion sizes leads to weight gain as both genders have very different requirements for calorie intake.

2. Larger Portions of Home-Cooked Meals

Couples commit to taking time to prepare meals. Living alone makes it difficult to prepare large meals (and hence single people are likelier to skip meals or snack).

Couples living together, on the other hand, have spousal duties like family meals. Such obligations lead to more complete meals – with dessert or alcohol sometimes included – being made, and in larger batches. With marriage, such meals take on more significance because they are a way for couples busy with life and work to sit down together and enjoy each other’s company (and food).

3. Prioritising Quality Time Together, Which Leads to a Sedentary Lifestyle

Spending time together (which only a couple happily in love will want to do) means less commitment and effort to personal care.

For instance, newly married couples might go out to eat together often, on romantic dinner dates. After work, they’d prefer to hang out together rather than work out, which they might have done when they were single. They also enjoy their weekends or free time by watching movies and eating sugary snacks and drinks together, to go with the movie. Weight gain naturally follows.

4. Having Children

A no-brainer here! Your children might also unintentionally cause weight gain. For instance, parents tend to to finish their children’s uneaten meals to minimise waste. If their kids are on a “mac and cheese” phase, then this is obviously not the healthiest meal option for parents.

5. What Your Partner’s Health Goals Are

Another study also found that your partner’s lack of progress on their health goals could be to blame for you not fulfilling your own goals.

A partner who has difficulty trimming his or her waistline can also lead to a decline in your motivation or efforts. This ripple effect is one of the possible reasons why couples put on weight while together unlike the times when they were still single.

Healthy relationships weight gain: Cooking at home more often instead of eating out is a way to stop piling on the pounds.

What can be done about it?

Sure, it’s really cute to know that couples happy together are also chubby together. But the reality is that it’s also unhealthy to pile on too much weight. After all, if you are in love, you surely don’t want to lose the love of your life to a health condition caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, right?

So happy couples, here are some tips to slim down that growing waistline!

1. Cook at home instead of eating out

One easy way to make sure you don’t accumulate unnecessary weight is by eating at home. Home-cooked meals are more often than not friendlier to your waistline. This is due to the simple fact that you know – and are in control of – exactly what goes into your meal.

This is not to case when eating out where you don’t know the exact ingredients restaurants are putting in to your food. The prime suspects are extra salt, fat, or sugar.

Need some ideas to get started on dinner? Try out our quick and easy recipes for a simple, stress-free, and delicious meal!

Healthy relationships weight gain doesn’t have to be the definition of a happy relationship. You can be healthy AND happy together.

2. Stay fit with your partner, as an exercise buddy

Can’t bear to spend even a moment away from each other? No worries, just go to the gym together! Studies have shown that exercising with others makes you sweat greater and the whole time more fruitful.

Kim Larson, a registered dietitian and nutritionist for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends sitting down and thinking through recreational ideas you can do together. Hiking to picnic spots or going on walks are two great workouts you can do even with your kids. Cycling together as a family also counts.

Too rigorous? Even a quiet stroll around the park after a meal works! If you have very young children who are cooped up at home, why not try using an exercise video? Or wear your baby/pop them in a stroller, and head outdoors.

Just remember to be honest and actually do it. “Being proactive and upfront about your health needs and goals with each other will serve both parties better in the long run,” Larson says.

3. Stick to good lifestyle habits

Berries are definitely much healthier snacks than junk food. | Image source: stock photo

When it comes to weight loss, it is important to remember that you have to stay the course: If you’ve started cooking at home and exercise, good job! But that doesn’t mean you should stop. The important part is consistency, no matter how small you start.

Other good habits to keep would be to:

  • Replace all (or most, if you can’t resist) of your junk food and instant noodles with healthier alternatives, like fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
  • Attend medical checkups as recommended
  • Be responsible for one another’s health goals.

True love doesn’t have to be about getting fat together. It’s also making sure you spend a long, happy and healthy life together – agree?

References: Psychology Spot, Healthline, Huffington Post (Article 1, 2), NY Post, Smithsonian Mag, PLoS One, Wiley

Also Read:

How to rekindle your relationships in just 4 minutes

Study: Couples who fight are happier than those who don’t

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My girlfriend is purposely gaining weight :/

I recently found out that my girlfriend has left home because 1) her mum kept yelling at her for gaining a bit of weight; And 2) she spends too much money on junk food. Personally I don’t care about the weight gain- she went from a skinny girl with a little tummy poking out to looking like she has a basketball hiding under her top in less than 2 months. I also found out last night that whenever I am away from work her and her best friend like to force feed each other loads of food until their stomachs get really big and they film this and put it up on their blog. The fact that they are purposely trying to gain a lot of weight weirds me out. I tried voicing my concerns about the health problems associated with this kind of thing but she just laughed and said that her tum tum won’t grow any more. I tried to figure out if there was a deep seeded issue making her do this to herself but she assures me this is the happiest she has ever been. My question is: How do I get through to her? How can I make her see that she is causing her body harm? I am honestly scared to go away for work anymore because every time I get back her stomach is noticeably bigger. Should I talk to her friend? Or should I just let her do what is supposedly making her happy?

EDIT: She came over. I told her that I can’t support her decision to do this and she took it quite well. I asked if she would consider stopping but she wants to explore this thing some more . She gave me a rather lovely goodbye gift if you know what I mean 😉 Thanks to everyone who gave me the courage to dump her.

‘My boyfriend kept feeding me … and then I realised he had a fat fetish’

ALEX thought John was perfect — until she realised he wanted her to change her body.

“In 2012, I was 18 and had just completed Year 12.

Here, she tells her story.

As I waited to hear whether I’d made it onto a physiotherapy course at university, I was working in a coffee shop. Over a period of six weeks, I had a frequent customer: a tall lanky guy, with a thick crop of dark hair and the most startling bright blue eyes. We’d often have little chats, and then he’d disappear again, leaving me wanting to know more about him.

Finally, one day, he called me over to the other side of the counter and nervously asked me whether I’d go on a date with him. I readily agreed. We went for a coffee, and the conversation flowed. John was 25 and studying for a degree in science at university. He was an outdoors type that loved exercising. Despite the seven-year age gap, we became instantaneously inseparable and fell in love. I’d had some sexual encounters and casual boyfriends in my teens, but I’d never had a proper relationship.

A couple of months later, John started a conversation about what we were both attracted to physically. “You know that I like girls with curves, right?” he said. At the time, I was 65 kilos and 173cm tall. However, I wasn’t skinny. I had always had a rounded bottom and decent sized C cup breasts. Then he explained that not only did he like curvy women, but he also loved the act of making them curvier. He said he’d always wanted to be thicker himself, but no matter what he did, he just couldn’t put on weight.

I didn’t understand what he meant at the time, or what was in store. I never had any body issues, although like most teenage girls I had wanted to be skinnier. I used to do a lot of sit-ups in pursuit of a flat tummy. In some ways, it felt liberating to be with a guy that liked his women a little curvier. I thought, ‘Great, I can eat whatever I want, and he’s still going to find me attractive.’

media_camera Picture: iStock

Seconds and chocolate

At first, he made little changes. If we went out to dinner, he’d encourage me to eat dessert. If he cooked, he’d invite me to have extras. Or he’d buy a big block of chocolate, specifically for me. Then he told me that he would find it very sexy for us to grow my belly. He seemed so excited by the prospect that I went along with it. If I’d gained a few kilos, I wouldn’t mind because he’d find me more attractive. I reasoned it would be easy to lose the weight, and most importantly, it would make him happy. So I agreed.

media_camera Picture: iStock

John did all the cooking. We ate pretty healthily, lots of veggies, meat and not many carbs. However, the big thing was portion size and dessert. He’d eat a reasonably sized portion while mine was massive. It was hard at the beginning, but then eating a lot became a habit.

John kept photos of the growth of my stomach. Every shot was captioned with my increasing weight. He praised me for each kilo gained. If we’d had a big dinner, he’d rub my belly as I ate. Sometimes he’d even weigh me before and after a meal to see if I’d gained anything. When I weighed in at 75 kilos, one of my friend’s mothers said that I looked better with a little more weight. She used the expression “womanly” so I didn’t think it was a problem.

“You are so hot and sexy”

The bigger my stomach got, the more turned on he was. During sex, he’d jiggle my belly and wobble my thighs. “Look at how big you’re getting!” he’d exclaim. “God, you are so hot and sexy.” I was trained to equate being full with being horny, and getting fatter, as being more attractive. John loved me to wear super tight clothes. I had a red and white shirt I wore when I was sixteen. He’d like me to wear it during sex. It was so tight my boobs bulged over the top. Then he’d grab my love handles that splayed out and pat my belly. I started to enjoy the pressure of the tight clothes, and became turned on by it too.

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After a year, we moved in together. We’d often be naked at home because we were both so comfortable with each other. He’d be full of admiration for my body. He’d cook, and we’d eat in front of the television. Then he’d fill up my plate again, without asking.

As university became more stressful, I started comfort eating. However because John gave me so much positive reinforcement, it wasn’t a problem. ‘Who cares what I look like,’ I thought to myself, ‘the person I love, loves my body.’

Despite the fact I was replacing my clothes with bigger sizes, I never realised that I was technically overweight. I was living away from home, and your friends don’t say, “Holy crap, you’ve gotten fat since the last time I saw you.”

Reality sets in

Then the depression started. I’m not sure it was directly related, but I began to feel ugly. In three years from 2012, I’d gone from 65 to 95 kilos. John started to feel guilty and encouraged me to exercise. But then I’d have a stressful period at university, and I’d overeat.

Then we went to visit his family in northern New South Wales. The family decided to climb a mountain together. However, I had to stop every few steps, as I was so overweight and unfit. I felt embarrassed. Everyone was overtaking me, including his sixty-year-mother. Then John told me that his dad had said to him, “Oh, I see you like big girls.” It annoyed me that they didn’t comment on my personality.

In hindsight, John was controlling in other ways, I had to do the dishes in a certain way, or he instructed me how he liked me to shower. It further impacted my mental health. When I was stressed, the facade in my confidence in my body would break and couldn’t be fixed by him saying that I looked beautiful. At those points, I didn’t want to be attractive to him, I wanted to be attractive to everybody else.

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Tinder and a new town

Then I was sent on a uni placement in a small country town. I’d become jealous of my friends’ abilities to explore the town, without getting puffed. I realised I needed to change. However I wasn’t sure John wouldn’t have been capable of changing his fetish. Before a visit home, I told him that I needed to make some changes; I was going to lose some weight and start a proper exercise regimen. When I returned he was at work but he’d left a note that said. “I’ve brought you a surprise!” I looked around the apartment but I couldn’t see his gift. Then I opened the fridge, and there were two full-size cheesecakes, an apple pie and three boxes of chocolates. That’s when I realised that he wasn’t supportive of what I truly wanted, as he’d led me onto to believe.

Maybe it was a sign but we mutually agreed upon an open relationship. Living in a small town, I had a lot of matches on Tinder, despite being 85 kilos. The conversations were flirty and I got compliments about my sense of humour and about my body. During our dates, not once did anyone jiggle my thighs or rub my stomach. They wanted to have sex with my body as it was at that moment. Despite being 10 kilos heavier than I desired to be, I was still as sexy as hell. I knew then, I could stay at my current weight or lose weight and I’d still be able to attract men.

In September 2016, despite loving John, it was our difference in personality and what we perceived as beautiful that caused our breakup. I do not regret the relationship though. It helped me realise that it is my body and I will do with it as I wish. But more importantly, society is superficial. Desire changes and naturally, so does your weight. But it shouldn’t ever determine your own sense of worth.”

Scared to Choose Wrong

Steve Almond: I don’t think you’re a terrible person, Scared to Choose Wrong. You felt an immediate and intuitive connection to this man, enough to talk marriage a week in. That’s awesome. But it doesn’t leave much room for the doubt that naturally arises as a courtship lengthens and intensifies. Now that you’re getting serious about a long-term commitment, your ambivalence is locating itself in anxiety about his weight gain. It’s worth considering whether this anxiety is standing in for a more fundamental fear: that you won’t be able to love this guy over the long haul, that you’re too “terrible” — too judgmental, too superficial. When we doubt a lover, it’s almost always an expression of self-doubt cast onto them.

Cheryl Strayed: What’s really interesting to me about your situation, Scared, is that your desire for your partner returned once you realized how much he meant to you, not after he lost weight. You thought you weren’t attracted to him because he became a bit chubby, and then you found yourself attracted to him again. That tells me that there might be something else going on here — something more internal than how your boyfriend’s face looks after he’s put on a few pounds. Perhaps it isn’t his weight gain that’s causing you to question your relationship, but rather your own notions about what the ideal man should look like. There are so many messages we receive in this culture that tell us that people who are overweight are undesirable, so it’s no surprise you would internalize that and feel conflicted when you see your boyfriend’s body changing. Only you can answer the question of whether or not your reservations about this relationship are self-sabotage or a sign that it isn’t meant to last, but as you grapple with it, I encourage you to deeply examine the difference between the ideas about body weight you’ve received from the culture and your experience of loving — and sometimes desiring — your boyfriend.

SA: We get so many letters from people who are struggling with negative feelings about their bodies, or those of their lovers. So much of it has to do with living in a society that sets up impossible standards of beauty, particularly for women but also for men. Think about how much of our consumer culture is predicated on the illusion that we can purchase our way to thinness, to eternal youth, to perfect abs and no wrinkles. Our doubts are what underwrite that industry, so companies do everything they can to stoke those doubts. And we wind up carrying them into our relationships. You worry that you “have issues,” Scared, but the point is, our entire culture has issues.

CS: That’s not to say physical attraction doesn’t matter. It absolutely does — and you’re correct that it matters even more in a long-term relationship, Scared. But a good part of our desire for others starts with the self. The onus is on us to identify what we want in our intimate relationships. Is your boyfriend’s weight a deal killer for you? It might be. You have a right to your preferences. But you’re going down a dangerous path when you hitch your wagon to an erotic ideal. No one can maintain it over the long haul, even if we achieve it for a short while. Ask any 80-year-old who’s still sleeping with the person they married at 30. We all change in appearance as we age, whether it’s weight gain, wrinkles, gray hair or something more significant. Part of loving someone over time is loving those changes. Long-term relationships thrive when the people in them are open to repeatedly seeing their partners anew, physically and otherwise.

Women gain weight after marriage, men after divorce

Dmitry Tumin of Ohio State University, who led the study, said: “Clearly, the effect of marital transitions on weight changes differs by gender.

“Divorces for men and, to some extent, marriages for women promote weight gains that may be large enough to pose a health risk.”

The impact was greatest on older people because a marriage or divorce comes as a greater shock later in life, he added.

The study, to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas today , says it is not clear why men’s and women’s waistlines respond differently to marriage and divorce.

But Prof Zhenchao Qian, one of the researchers, said: “Married women often have a larger role around the house than men do, and they may have less time to exercise and stay fit than similar unmarried women.

“On the other hand, studies show that married men get a health benefit from marriage, and they lose that benefit once they get divorced, which may lead to their weight gain.”

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First comes love, then comes marriage,
then comes…20 extra pounds on your
hips and ass? It’s shocking but true: Nutritionists
say it’s common for women to put on serious
weight during the first five years of marriage,
with one survey finding that many new wives
gain an average of 21 pounds in year one. And
you won’t be the only one bummed if you can’t
fit into your single-girl jeans. Turns out that new
husbands can feel freaked when their bride
suddenly goes up two dress sizes — they think
maybe she now cares less about the relationship.
Plus, experts say letting yourself go weight-wise
once you’re hitched can trigger problems
in the bedroom. Here’s what might be causing
the pound creepage and how to outsmart it.

The Fiancée Get-Fit Trap

Often, the weight gain is a result of what you
did before the wedding. Thanks to a surge in
bridal boot camps and prewedding diets, lots
of women get to the altar considerably below
what they should
weigh. And in many
cases, they’ve used
extreme regimens, like
eating only 1,000 calories
and doing two or
more hours of cardio a
day in the final month, says nutritionist Danielle
Schupp, RD, coauthor of Urban Skinny. Not
only is that impossible to maintain, she explains,
but it also slows your metabolism way down. So
even if you don’t totally hit the skids after the
wedding, you’re still going to put on weight.

Schupp advises avoiding any quick-fix program
(which lasts a month or less). Instead,
start your shape-up when you get engaged so
you’ll lose weight slowly…and permanently.

Eating Manly Meals

Yes, it’s partly your husband’s fault. “Females
tend to mimic their guy’s eating, consuming
more calories and less healthy food,” explains
Natalie Rosenstock, RD, a nutritionist in Los
Angeles. “They do this even more so after getting
married, since there’s this feeling of ‘We
share everything — even diet habits.’ ” And once
you’re married, quality time often revolves
around food — eating out or cooking together —
so you’re more likely to indulge.

“Often just being conscious of mirroring
your guy’s eating routines is enough to keep
you from doing it,” says Rosenstock. And try
this trick: Order before he does at restaurants,
and serve yourself first at home. It may sound
simplistic, but not being influenced by what
or how much he’s having can easily knock off
up to 300 calories per meal.

Another easy technique that Rosenstock
swears by: snacking smartly but often. Men
usually munch less between meals than women
do. And new brides often try to kick their grazing
tendencies since they feel like they shouldn’t
be eating without their husband. But the
we-only-eat-together rule can backfire. “You
don’t end up saving any calories,” says Rosenstock,
“because denying yourself snacks when
you need them only leads to bingeing during
meals.” In fact, she adds, you’ll most likely end
up consuming more calories in a day than you
would have if you’d indulged in, say, a midafternoon
banana and yogurt.

Lounging Around in Love

When you were single or dating your
now-husband, you most likely went out
often — meeting up with friends after
work or going on dates on weekends.
But now that you’re hitched, chances
are, much of your social scene revolves
around your bed and your couch.

It’s normal for newlyweds to get in
the “couple bubble,” says family therapist
Jenn Berman, PhD. And a recent
study from the journal Obesity confirms
it: Women who go from single or
dating to married become less active.
After all, it’s fun to spend half of Sunday
between the sheets or Friday nights
watching a movie at home with your
new husband. But doing so can make
you chub up for the obvious reason that
you’re not burning calories.

No need to cancel your Netflix queue
and return to a single-girl social calendar,
though. Berman recommends
simply making an effort to plan out-of-the-house dates…and not necessarily
heavy-duty pursuits like hiking or
dancing. Just getting your butt off the
couch will motivate you to be less lazy
and remind you what a good time you
have together actually doing stuff.

Feeling Too Cozy

Finally, there’s the sneaky relaxation
factor. Be honest: You’re just not feeling
the same urgency to impress him
with your looks, and you may quit stepping
on the scale and being so critical
of any flab, says Schupp. We’re all for
less self-criticism, but you want to stay
fit for your own sake, if not for his.

Letting things slide can send a
subtle message to your guy that you
don’t think he’s worth the effort anymore,
says Berman, which is sometimes
enough to make him look for
that ego stroking elsewhere, in the
form of a fling or an affair.

And showing him you don’t care
as much about the relationship can
also squash your sex drives. Berman
says she’s seen many women who
stop wanting sex after gaining weight
and men who admit to not feeling
turned on by their suddenly overweight
wives. Not a happy honeymoon
thought.

So combat that feeling of “I don’t
need to try as hard now” by hanging
on to a few of your single-girl body
habits. Weigh yourself regularly, since
nutritionists have found that doing so
helps women learn to associate certain
foods and behaviors with weight gain
and, therefore, avoid putting on
pounds. Rosenstock also suggests hitting
the gym for regular classes, like
an abs session before work or spinning
on Saturday mornings.

The benefits are twofold: Your husband
will know you still care about
the relationship, and you won’t have
to be one of those women who always
says “I’ll never look as fit as I did on
my wedding day.”

From RealAge.com: Lose weight with these tips and tricks.

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