You're Making Me Fat!
We’re not about to point fingers, but since you asked…yes, your partner could be behind those extra pounds
By: Emily G. W. Chau
'Til Fat Do Us Part
Photo Credit: Thinkstock
When you find the number on the scale rising, it’s easy to point fingers at the person who’s weighing down the other side of the couch. Study after study shows that couples, both married and cohabitating, have a higher risk of being obese than singles. While some say it’s a result of “letting yourself go,” researchers chalk it up to a “shared household environment.” To put it in plain English: Your bad habits are rubbing off on each other.
10 Little things connected couples do together!
“When you’re dating or living with someone, it’s easy to pick up their eating and exercise habits—or lack thereof,” says Jenna Bergen, author of Your Big Fat Boyfriend: How to Stay Thin When Dating a Diet Disaster. “The more time you spend with each other, the greater chance of that happening.” We’ve identified eight ways your partner could be helping you pack on the pounds, as well as some smart strategies to keep love chub at bay.
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He: Considers French Fries a VegetableIf the celery that comes with Buffalo wings counts as a serving of vegetables to him, it’s unlikely that he’s going to stock the refrigerator with fresh produce. It’s stereotypical but true: Men eat fewer veggies and more meat than women. If he’s calling the shots at the supermarket, both of you could be missing out on the health benefits of antioxidants and fiber. Men may think that a rib-eye is the epitome of a hearty meal, but high-fiber foods, whole grains, and vegetables fill you up more than you’d expect, says Ruth Frechman, RD and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. To add some color to your diet, a simple request is often enough to get vegetables added onto his grocery list. Ask him to toss on some peppers and asparagus on to the grill or to keep a bag of baby carrots on hand.
She: Always Orders Dessert Women’s taste buds are genetically primed to crave sugary foods and are more sensitive to bitter flavors, so it’s no wonder that she keeps an emergency pint of Chunky Monkey around. But her sweet tooth doesn’t just translate to more treats around the house. On dinner dates, women will often try to split dessert to share the calories—as well as the guilt, says Frechman. Guys end up digging into a dessert that they never would have ordered on their own, and finish it, too. The next time she asks if you want to go halfsies on the tiramisu, try suggesting a scoop of the sorbet instead. At home, keep some frozen grapes or Blue Bunny ice cream treats on hand so you can indulge a little without sabotaging your waistline.
He: Always Super Sizes His Meal“You might be equal in all other aspects of your relationship, but don’t try to match his serving sizes,” says Bergen. When you eat together so often, it’s easy to start thinking that his extra value meal is the new normal, but that additional slice of pizza or second helping of mashed potatoes is probably more than you need. On average, men should tuck in 500 to 1500 more calories a day than women—but they burn it off easier, too. In fact, women burn about 16 percent fewer calories than their male counterparts. Instead of falling into the portion distortion trap, gauge your hunger on internal, not visual, cues. Let your food digest for about 20 minutes, and ask yourself if you’re really hungry before going up for another serving. Rather than splitting a hoagie down the middle, let him take the bigger half.
She: Is a Stickler for Dinner DatesDinner-and-a-movie isn’t only overdone, it can also wreck your diet. “So much socializing goes around food,” says Bergen. “When you’re out on dates, it’s easy to keep on ordering food just to prolong the conversation.” Plus, the number of calories in an order of movie theater popcorn, Milk Duds, and a medium soda is enough to make one cringe (1,780 calories, to be exact). Thankfully, you can still honor her desire for date-night without burdening your belly. Think about changing up your traditional Friday night plans with a round of bowling or a walk in the park. Variation isn’t just good for your body, it can also rekindle feelings of adventure and romance if you’ve fallen into a rut.
He: Has Domino’s on Speed DialIf your guy prefers channeling General Tso over Gordon Ramsey, it may be time to take matters into your own hands. According to a Pew Research Center survey, men are more likely to eat out and less likely to cook than women, and 47 percent say they go to the drive thru every week. “There are some men who are handy in the kitchen, but a lot of times they will pick up dinner on their way home—and it’s usually fast food,” says Frechman. Talk about a diet disaster. If your husband is grabbing dinner for the two of you, handle the order yourself, advises Bergen. That way you can tell the restaurant to hold the mayo or ask for your salad dressing to come on the side. For a low-prep nutritional boost, keep a bag of frozen vegetables ready to supplement your takeout.
She: Wants to “Split” EverythingIn her mind, splitting an appetizer means half the calories, but for you, it can translate into extra food you never even noticed that you were eating. While dividing your meals down the middle can help lower your calorie intake, pay close attention to how often you’re doing it and what foods you’re actually ordering, notes Bergen. Sharing a roll of sushi is fine. Too often, however, we use splitting as an excuse to rationalize trying the calamari or adding an extra side of onion rings. The calories in half portions can add up quickly, so it’s just as important to consider the calories in her tapas free-for-all before you indulge in a large entrée.
He: Cracks Open a Beer—Or Four—While Watching the GameIt’s easy to grab a beer and snuggle up with your guy on a lazy Sunday, but don’t be lulled into downing your own six pack. “Drinking while watching a football game is definitely a social thing, and generally men have more beer available at home than women,” says Frechman. Just having that brew in easy reach is enough to tempt one to toss back a few over the course of a game, but they come at the cost of about 150 calories a bottle. Even when you choose the “lite” option, drinking beer like it’s water is going to load you with empty calories. On game day, remember that the usual drinking rules hold true: moderation equals one drink for women, two for men.
She: Snacks All AfternoonResist the urge to rummage through the pantry for her extra snacks. “While men tend to eat three-square a day, women often eat small meals throughout the day with plenty of snacks thrown in-between,” says Frechman. Unfortunately, the calories from chronic grazing tally up, so you might be better off sticking to a more structured meal plan. If you are struck by an afternoon craving, lay off her snack packs and instead create your own mini-meal. The perfect snack should be part protein, part carbohydrate, so opt for power combos such as an apple with peanut butter or string cheese with whole-wheat crackers.
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