Is Your Boyfriend Making You Gain Weight?

istock_000002727359xsmall1.gifThere are a lot of positive things about having a relationship with a guy, but gaining weight is not one of them. I frequently have women come to my office complaining of weight gain as they spend more and more time with their boyfriend.

Mindy was a prime example of guy – induced weight gain. She was a 28 year old who lived alone and hadn’t had a serious relationship in 4 years. Mindy worked long hours yet still found time to go to the gym 4 times a week. She kept minimal food in her apartment. By the time she got home at night, it was so late that she often had a small dinner such a soup or cereal. Other nights she met friends for a dinner – usually Japanese. She maintained her weight at 130 pounds for the past 6 years.

Mindy met Tim and things changed. She found herself meeting Tim for dinner and drinks 3-4 nights a week. Not only did this add extra calories from the restaurant dining, she also was missing her workouts. Tim was a hearty eater and liked to try new restaurants. Steak and pasta were his favorite foods. Mindy found these restaurants tempting as she also loved steak and pasta. Tim often ordered fattening appetizer such as caesar salad or fried calamari and encouraged Mindy to split them with him, which she often did. Soon enough her clothes started getting tight.

Mindy had been dating Tim for 8 months  and gained 8 pounds! While she was having a great time with him, she was terrified that her weight was going to spiral upward. She needed to find a way to enjoy the relationship yet stay in control with her eating and weight.

Problems:

 

  1. Spending more time with Tim led to decreased time at gym.
  2. She was eating more of her meals out in restaurants and ended up eating foods she usually did not eat (i.e. pasta, steak and fries, Mexican food, etc.).
  3. Did not think about the “little extras” such a few spoons of Tim’s ice cream at night, a few bites of his greasy Chinese food or a few of the fries of his dinner plate.
  4. Tim was keeping his favorite snack foods (i.e. ice cream, chips) in Mindy’s apartment. Mindy snacked on it when he was around (and not around!). Since she usually did not eat these kinds of foods, she found it set off more cravings.
  5. Mindy increased her alcohol intake with Tim. They often split a bottle of wine in a restaurant and had a glass or two on the nights they did not go out.
  6. She was having so much fun eating and drinking with Tim that her resolve to really watch what she ate was fading away. She needed to find a way to get back in control.

Solutions:

  1. Mindy needed to find a way to increase her exercise. I suggested she meet Tim for a workout instead of dinner or drinks. Meet at the gym, go for a run or take a dance class. Another option would be to work out before work or on a lunch hour. I told her to schedule her workout in her appointment book and take it as seriously as any other work appointment.
  2. I reminded her that the “extras” count. An extra 70 calories a day can add up to a 7 pound weight gain a year.
  3. Start to keep a food record of everything she ate and drank. This will help make her aware of where the extra calories are coming from. It will also make her think twice before grabbing that chip or piece of bread.
  4. Be more disciplined when ordering in restaurants. Tell Tim she does not want to split the fattening appetizer. Order a healthier appetizer such as a mixed green salad, tuna tartare, grilled shrimp or calamari.
  5. Alternate between Mindy’s favorite restaurants (Japanese) with Tim’s (Italian, steakhouse).
  6. Cook at home more often. Best meals to cook: lean protein and vegetables.
  7. Let Tim know that she was serious about trying to eat healthier. Enlist his support by asking him if he could either not buy snack foods to keep in her apartment or at least buy a type of snack that was not that appealing to her.

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I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.

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