IS YOUR MARRIAGE MAKING YOU GAIN WEIGHT? HOW TO AVOID GAINING ‘LOVE WEIGHT’ TOGETHER

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes weight gain. It turns out having a spouse, while wonderful, is not great for your waistline. A study presented at the Obesity Society’s annual meeting found that both men and women who were recently married gained an average of 24 pounds.

 Why does marriage tend to tip the scales? From adopting your partner’s bad eating habits or having less time for workouts to making household changes and sacrifices in the name of compromise, there are a variety of factors that disrupt the lifestyle you were living as a single person. But that doesn’t mean your relationship has to lead to love handles. Whether you want to keep from packing on pounds or lose the “honeymoon period” weight, these simple solutions will help.

Set Health Goals

A lot of newlyweds will save for a house or start planning to have a family, so add a couple of health goals into what you’re already working on together,” says Allison Drury, MPH, a certified health coach. “It can be something minimal like you’re going to cook one new healthy recipe together a month or something bigger such as training for a half marathon.”

She recommends writing down the goals to keep yourselves accountable and adopting the SMART formula: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely.

 Make a Plan

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Research published in the journal Nutrition found that eating a meal with another person boosts the amount of food consumed by a whopping 33 percent. How do you avoid this diet trap?

“You have to be mindful of what you’re eating and develop a strategy before you go out to dinner,” says Drury. “If your spouse loves getting a huge appetizer at the beginning of the meal, let them know that you’re trying to watch what you eat and figure out something healthy you can enjoy together.”

Control Your Environment

When you live alone, you control exactly what goes into your pantry. Once you’re cohabitating, you have to live with each other’s food cravings as well—for better or for worse. If ice cream previously never crossed your front door because you knew you couldn’t resist the temptation of Ben & Jerry’s calling to you from the freezer, you need to ban it from your shared home. That doesn’t mean you both have to give up dessert. If your husband or wife is capable of eating just one cookie without going down the sugar rabbit hole, then he or she can enjoy it at the office. Or make your guilty pleasure food into a treat you have when you go out to dinner or celebrate a special occasion.

 Coach Each Other

One of the advantages of being married is having a built-in support system. When your partner wants to make positive changes it their life, it’s important to be respectful and encouraging of those choices—even if you’d prefer to snuggle in bed longer when they want to hit the gym.

 “When you’re with someone who’s struggling with weight loss, the natural inclination is to point out to them what they’re doing wrong, but it will serve you better to build up their confidence,” says Drury. “Your spouse will start to see results and they’ll get excited about it. They’ll see you as a person who helps and supports them and it’ll build a stronger relationship for you as a couple as well.”