This month I am celebrating my 7 year wedding anniversary with my wife. I am by no means a marriage or relationship authority but coming up on this milestone has forced me to reflect on my relationship, love and of course how that relates to food. My wife and I have both, at different times in our lives, struggled with weight and we each have our own issues with food. I gained weight during and after college by eating too much and not exercising. As I look back on it now, I was a very unhappy person and food was my best friend. I didn't like work, I didn't like being single and the only constant was food. Food was there for me no matter what and it would comfort me late at night when there was no one else around. I changed my habits before I met my wife. I quite literally woke up one morning and decided to eat better. I lost over 100 lbs by being a different person, I ate better, I exercised, but more importantly, as I lost weight I felt better. After losing the weight I met my wife. I told her about my relationship with food and she had similar experiences and that helped bring us together.
So where does this whole story lead me to? As a dietitian helping individuals lose weight I often hear something like, "When I get skinny, I'll be happier." I wish it was that simple but it never is. Weight loss is not a quick fix to happiness. The problems you had when you were heavy are going to be there when you are thin. I think it goes back to the old saying, "You have to love yourself before you can love someone else."
One of my fears as my wife and I started dating and as we settled into our lives together as a couple was would we both gain weight. I'm sure that we all have stories from friends who talk about how they got comfortable with their partner, stopped exercising, ate differently and started to gain weight. Well interestingly enough, there's some research on the topic and according to this article from the Mayo Clinic:
Co-habitating increased the odds of becoming obese for women by 63 percent, compared with only 30 percent for men. Marriage doubled the risk of obesity for both men and women — 107 percent for men and 127 percent for women.
The study's findings are echoed in this person's personal story posted on Discovery Health. She talks about how her weight changed once she moved in with her boyfriend. It's gives you a glimpse into one person's struggle with weight while also enjoying a new relationship.
Being a dietitian didn't prevent me and my wife from having a similar experience after we got married. We each "relaxed" just a little and we began to notice some increase in our weights. But I have I learned after 7 years of marriage. Just like good eating, love requires some balance, variety and moderation. We have learned to live together and build a life together and now I couldn't imagine life without her, but building that life took time and patience. Here's what we do to enjoy each other and stay healthy at the same time:
- We try to cook at home as much as possible. The one place we don't get along is in the kitchen so we don't cook together but we have roles in the kitchen. We plan a week's worth of meals at a time and we make a point to eat together as a family without the TV on. Since we had kids, we also make sure to have a family Shabbat meal together.
- We try to find activities that we can do together that keep us active. Recently we started hiking together and it gives us a great break from our lives to enjoy each others' company while also getting our heart rates pumping
- We talk about our feelings together instead of using food to soothe us.