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What to Do When Marriage Is Making You Fat

Research links wifehood with weight gain. Here’s how I took control when it happened to me.

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sisters, aarp, marriage. weight
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I’ll never forget my first date with Harrison. And not just because 16 months later he became my husband. That dinner is memorable because he ordered a whole fried fish, sushi platter, spring rolls, soft-shell crab, fried calamari and papaya salad. It couldn’t all fit on the table.

My maddeningly slender husband’s zest for life and his cultural curiosity is reflected in his love of food, and I adore him for it. But my waistline . . . not so much. In the year we were dating I went up two dress sizes. As a newlywed, the weight-creep continued.

Several studies link wedding bells with weight gain in women — especially . It’s taken trial and error over 12 years of marriage, but I’ve figured out ways to eat sensibly in spite of temptation. So, hey, whether your significant other is a food enthusiast, you and your girls enjoy eating out or you’re simply hoping to stay in control during holiday party season, my little tricks might help you, too.

Snack wisely.

For those evenings spent snuggled on the sofa binge-watching (and snacking), we replaced our sugary and salty snacks (beef jerky, full-fat cheese, rocky road ice cream). Lighter bites (air-popped popcorn, fresh fruit and sugar-free popsicles) helped me say “buh-bye” to newlywed spread.

Cook together.

I currently work from home, but when we were both working in offices, Sundays were our designated lunch prep days. We’d hit the supermarket in the morning and spend the afternoon cooking lean cuts of pork for him, salmon or chicken for me and a medley of veggies. We enjoyed those perfectly proportioned meals all week. Bonus: We’ve had some of our best conversations while chopping vegetables.

Stay out of the hunger red zone.

It’s easier to wave away the breadbasket or forgo the extra appetizer if you’re not starving when handed a menu. When we were first dating I made the mistake of saving my stomach on days Harrison and I had plans, skipping breakfast and having soup for lunch. Welp, I’d arrive at the restaurant ravenous and surrender to the siren call of whatever calorific culinary delights he ordered. Now I have a cheese stick wrapped in a slice of ham, a boiled egg or a protein bar beforehand.

Cut down the number of courses.

To prolong time spent with my sweetie, I often found myself having cocktails and dessert. Those pre- and post-meal indulgences can quickly add pounds. I knew I had to choose one or the other. We could always linger over a cup of coffee or kick the evening off by sipping sparkling water with lime.

Meet for a lighter meal.

Since dinners out had become a minefield of decadence, coffee dates became the better bet.

Alternate fitness dates and foodie dates.

I’m an avid runner, and this year I finally convinced Harrison to hit the pavement with me. Now, instead of sleeping in on the weekends or heading to our local diner for breakfast, we log three or four miles and watch the sunrise together.

Cherish your connection.

I’ve saved the best news for last! If you’re boo’d up in a happy, supportive partnership, you may be less likely to gain weight and become obese when you’re middle-aged, according to a brand-new Harvard study. A separate study found that heated arguments with your spouse can cause the hunger hormone ghrelin to spike and trigger cravings for sugary, salty or fatty foods. So, as long as you eat sensibly, those dinner dates that help keep you two close might also keep you at a healthy weight!