I’ve gained weight since I started my new relationship. How do I get it under control?

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A couple cooking together.
A new relationship often means a few more date nights and special dinners. Getty
  • Gaining weight in a relationship is common, especially if your partner eats more than you.
  • Have an honest conversation with them about your goals and how they can support you.
  • Identify “why” you want to drop the extra weight, and start with small steps to build momentum.
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Dear Rachel,

I’m in a new relationship as of about three months ago, and while I’m really happy about it, I’ve realized I’ve gained weight over this time period – about eight pounds. I’m actually fine about this amount, but don’t really want to gain more. My new partner is bigger than me so needs more food, but we eat so many meals together (often takeaways or nice dinners out), and I suppose I also drink more when we’re together. On paper I know the solution is simple: Stop eating and drinking so much. But in reality I don’t know how to do this. Do you have any practical advice?

– Smitten

Dear Smitten,

Congrats on the new relationship, and what a relatable question you have! People often find they gain a few pounds at the start of a new partnership – it’s nice to have someone to cook for and to share dessert with.

It’s great to hear you’re still happy in your body, but understandable to feel like you want to get a handle on the weight gain.

According to consultant dietitian Ro Huntriss, this is the perfect time to build new habits, and you’ve already taken the first steps: acknowledging the gain and thinking about how to cut back.

Larger people require more food

Bigger people need more calories to sustain themselves than smaller humans, so make sure you’re eating enough to feel satisfied without going overboard.

“It’s important to appreciate that your calorie requirements will be lower, so therefore the portions and calories you consume should be less,” Huntriss said.

As much as we might like to eat as much as our bigger partners, if you’re consuming the same amount as someone who weighs 40-50 more pounds than you, and this is more than you’re used to eating, you can gain weight.

Figure out why you want to stop gaining weight

If you want to make lasting change, you need to have intrinsic motivation, which comes from within rather than external factors, behavior change specialist Dr. Heather McKee told Insider.

Identify your “why?” Why do you want to stop gaining weight? If it’s because you think you’ll feel less confident if you keep gaining, why is that? Why is it important to you?

“Tapping into your intrinsic motivation makes it much more likely that you’ll actually adopt the habits that you need,” McKee said.

Ask your partner to support you

Maybe your partner loves a mid-morning latte or a pre-dinner bag of chips, and you’ve started enjoying them too, but sometimes it’s these tiny changes that make a big difference.

You may feel reluctant to share your goals and concerns with your partner out of fear they will think you’re suddenly going to be “no fun” or you’ll never have pizza or wine together again, but being honest means they can help you.

Tell your partner how they can support you, and let them know they don’t need to change any of their habits if they don’t want to, but you need them to not sabotage you.

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Maybe your partner wants to be really involved and do a weekly check-in with you, maybe you’d prefer accountability from someone else. Either way, work out what kind of support makes you most comfortable and what role your partner can play.

Perhaps you can come up with some active date ideas like rock climbing to replace dinner at a restaurant, or cook from scratch rather than order take out.

Identify small steps you can take

Track your habits with a food diary for a week or two and reflect on what you’re really consuming.

McKee suggests starting with the easiest step and building momentum from there – she encourages clients to do a five-day habit challenge.

So rather than trying to skip the bread basket, starter, booze, and dessert on a Saturday dinner out, make a small adjustment like having a non-alcoholic drink on a Wednesday night while your partner pours themselves a glass of wine.

When going out, it may help to plan out your meals. Decide if you’re going to have a starter or dessert before you sit down to eat, for example.

Making smart choices can allow you to make healthy progress without feeling like you’re missing out.

“Some alcoholic drinks contain fewer calories than others; for example, a gin and diet tonic contains approximately 60 calories, whereas a large glass of wine may contain 200,” Huntriss said. “Alcohol is a common contributor to weight gain if consumed in excess.”

Create an environment for success

It may sound obvious, but it’s harder to eat a packet of cookies when you don’t open the cupboard and immediately see a packet of cookies.

Make the healthier choice the easier choice, and “add friction” between you and the foods and drinks you’re trying to consume in moderation, McKee advises.

Tweaks like using smaller plates and glasses can also help trick the brain into feeling satisfied with less.

But at the end of the day, being happy and in love is a very special and beautiful thing, enjoy it and don’t stress too much about your body evolving.

Wishing you well,

Rachel
As a senior health reporter at Insider and a self-described fitness fanatic with an Association for Nutrition-certified nutrition course under her belt, Rachel Hosie is immersed in the wellness scene and here to answer all your burning questions. Whether you’re struggling to find the motivation to go for a run, confused about light versus heavy weights, or unsure whether you should be worried about how much sugar is in a mango, Rachel is here to give you the no-nonsense answers and advice you need, with strictly no fad diets in sight.

Rachel has a wealth of experience covering fitness, nutrition, and wellness, and she has the hottest experts at her fingertips. She regularly speaks to some of the world’s most knowledgeable and renowned personal trainers, dietitians, and coaches, ensuring she’s always up to date with the latest science-backed facts you need to know to live your happiest and healthiest life.

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