The pros and cons of dieting as a couple
A few days ago, I found a receipt hidden away in the recesses of our car. Immediately on the alert, I smoothed out the wrinkles from the paper and found that once again, my husband had snuck away to a fast food restaurant for a little pre-dinner snack.
I teased him a bit about my investigational skills with his mistress McDonald’s, but underneath our laughter was a deeper issue. As a couple and as parents, healthy eating is often a journey together and when one half of the team isn’t on board, it can make the process a lot more difficult. In my quest to lose the baby weight, I’ve often begged my husband to help me eat a little healthier. But I can’t help but wonder — would it help me if he was on board with my healthy eating? What are the pros and cons of dieting together as a couple? Here’s what I — I mean we — have found, with the help of experts and other couples who’ve been there.
Food prep is easier. Henry Halse, a certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist, points out that buying and cooking food is made easier when both individuals are on board with a diet.
“When a couple decides to follow the same eating habits they will have much less to worry about as far as food shopping/cooking is concerned,” he notes. “If they are eating the same [or] similar food, then they will know where to shop and what food to buy. Also, one person can do the food shopping and one person does the cooking. It is also much easier to avoid certain foods if your significant other is not eating them all the time!”
Going out to eat is easier. How many times have I tried to stick to my diet when out to eat with my husband only to give in to the temptation to just take a few bites of his meal or to mow down the bread basket? Staying strong together at restaurants is a definite pro, Halse says.
“If you are trying to avoid certain foods then going out to eat can be a struggle, especially if you don’t want to inconvenience the person you are going out to eat with,” he explains. “If your significant other is eating the same things as you it will be much easier to choose a place to eat. You can scope out the menu beforehand and plan out where you would like to eat. That way you aren’t ruining a date because you don’t like the food options at a restaurant.”
Motivation. “It can certainly be tough to diet, but if someone is going through the same diet that you are it is much easier,” says Halse. “A couple that diets together can keep each other accountable.”
Friendly competition. Steve Siebold, author of Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People, and Fat Loser! Mental Toughness Training for Dieters says he has also had a lot of luck with couples using the weight loss process as a friendly competition, for example, who can lose the most in a given week or month.
Melissa Murray and her husband, Jeff have dieted together and tracked meals on the Fitness Pal app, which, Murray says, makes things a little competitive.
“It was fun to get on his app when he wasn’t looking and add random food (like 12 McDonald’s hashbrowns for breakfast) and wait til he got back on it and flipped out that he was negative calories for the day before realizing I sabotaged him,” she laughs.
Accountability. Siebold also points out with someone there to hold you accountable for the choices you make, you are much more likely to succeed.
“When one person has a good day but the other is struggling, it helps the person struggling to see the success of his or her partner and often picks them back up,” he explains. Calyssa Smith, a wife who frequently diets with her husband says that she has “the best results” when she diets with her husband.
No individualization. “Diets should be individualized,” Halse points out. “There are a plethora of differences in the way the male and female bodies function [and] regardless of the difference between sexes, no two people even of the same gender should have the same exact diet.”
He explains that factors such as lifestyle, genetics, and even taste mean that every person needs a different diet. “The best diet for your significant other is probably not the best diet for you because you are an individual,” he says.
Resentment. If one member of the couple dieting duo falls of the bandwagon or eat differently, there may be room for some resentment. Murray experienced some moment of frustration when she and her husband couldn’t agree on what to eat for meals together.
“For example, if I make chicken Alfredo for dinner but because he’s already ate a hefty lunch while I ate a salad, I now spent my time cooking this meal for one which gets very frustrating,” she says.
When you add it up, it certainly would appear that the pros of dieting together as a couple outweigh any cons. And the bottom line?
“Losing weight is filled with many challenges, so anything you can do to encourage a more successful outcome, such as dieting with your partner, is always a good idea,” Siebold sums up.
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