Preventing Weight Gain After Marriage

If you are like most people, planning a trip down the aisle stirs up thoughts of the wonderful things about to be brought into your life.  You might consider gaining a new companion, a family, and a roommate . . . but extra pounds?

Current research shows that weight gain after marriage is common. Not only is this shown in newly-weds just beginning to live together, but in co-habitants as well. Do you need to be concerned? Yes! Over half of Canadian adults are above a healthy weight right now, and this number continues to rise. The effects of obesity on health are great, causing increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

What factors contribute to weight gain at this time? Partners are often influenced by each other and adopt the eating behaviors of the other person. These include how often they eat, choice of food and how it is prepared. Will you have seconds or increase your portion size?

Don’t worry. There is hope for preventing this weight gain. Studies also show that involving your partner may help you to slim down and maintain weight more easily than going it alone. Moving in with each other is a period of adjustment. Two adults with well established eating patterns need to develop the eating patterns of a couple.  Here’s how to make the most out of your team effort:

  1. Eat slowly and enjoy meals. Turn off the TV and spend quality time with your partner during meals. Eating meals slowly helps you to recognize your body’s signals for feeling full.
  2. Plan to eat breakfast together. Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and helps control hunger throughout the day.
  3. Exercise together. Increased physical activity improves heart health by decreasing cholesterol and blood pressure. Sets goals with your partner to walk 1 mile after supper.
  4. Don’t match each other portion for portion. Men normally require more calories than women to meet their energy needs. Don’t feel you need to match your partner’s portion sizes or accept second helpings.
  5. Plan treats into your menu. Remember that no foods are bad foods. All foods in moderation can fit into a healthy diet. Just watch the portion size and the frequency.
  6. Trade food duties. Offer to do the grocery shopping in trade for your partner preparing the meal. Creating variety in the foods you prepare will keep you motivated to maintain healthy eating behaviors.
  7. Be supportive. Encourage you partner by saying “I’m proud of you” rather than “should you be eating that?”.

Developing the eating behaviors of a couple is like dating. Take your time and negotiate healthy eating habits that you can both live with. The goal of enjoying healthy food together is achieved through learning, communication and practice. Developing healthy habits early in your marriage will help to ensure good health for both you and your new partner for many years.

WRITTEN BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH NUTRITIONISTS OF SASKATCHEWAN

Originator:  Kristy Buchkowski, Dietetic Intern, Heather McAvoy, Prince Albert Parkland Health Region

References:

Califino, J., “Marriage Makes You Fat,” Reader’s Digest, March 2002, pp. 64-65.

“Clever Wives Good For Men’s Health”, October 2002,http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2291737.stm

“Health Information: Nutrition – Active Living”, University of Ottawa website, October 2003, www.uottawa.ca/health/information/nutrition-active.html

“Is Marriage Making You Fat?  Most People Put on Extra Pounds After They Say I do.  Here’s How to Shed the Weight (How to Eat Right)”, Natural Health, April 2003, www.findarticles.com

Kremmer, D., Anderson, A.S. and Marshall, D.W., “Living Together and Eating Together:  Changes in Food Choice and Eating Habits During the Transition from Single to Married/Cohabitating”, The Sociological Review, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 48-72, 1998.