You gain a lot when you get married — love, companionship, fun between the sheets, a family, someone who can share your dreams. But a new study highlights a not-so-nice gain we bet you’ve seen up close and personal: extra pounds since you tied the knot.
German researchers checked the marital status and weight of 10,226 women and men from nine European countries. They found that regardless of nationality, age or income level, those who were married weighed about five to seven pounds more, on average, than those who were single. American researchers have found that compared with unmarried people, newlywed women in their 20s gain an extra nine pounds, while newly married men gain an extra six. “If you take one of those happy marriages that go on for 20, 30, 40 years, it could potentially become unhealthy,” quipped a researcher who looked at links between wedlock and weight.
A better idea: Use the strength of your relationship to avoid the marital weight trap. Staying slim will let you make sure you can access all the other great health benefits associated with tying the knot, including less heart disease and a longer, healthier life.
Potential Fat Trap: You mirror each other’s eating habits. Our brains are wired to prompt us to eat the way everybody else at the table is eating! That’s great if you’re both munching the good stuff. But it’s dangerous if you’re both taking big portions, or if you’re a woman mirroring her husband’s larger serving sizes (chances are he’s burning way more calories than you every day, thanks to a bigger body and more muscle mass), or if one of you is already overweight. In one study, spouses ate 22 percent more when they dined together than apart!
How to Get Slimmer Together: Make a pact to banish the five food felons — saturated and trans fats, added sugars and syrups, and any grain that’s not 100 percent whole. Eat more veggies and watch portion sizes of higher-calorie foods. Dr. Mike and his wife even bring their own whole-grain pasta to their favorite Italian restaurant where the chef cooks it up and serves it with a garlicky marinara.
Potential Fat Trap: You buy the family-size container, even if it’s just the two of you. We bet plenty of couples without kids at home still shop at big-box, discount supermarkets. That’s great, but only if you stock up on healthy foods — and you still have to be careful! Research shows you tend to eat more when food comes in extra-large boxes, bags, jars and cans or when you’ve got lots of a food stockpiled.
How to Get Slimmer Together: Don’t buy prepared or packaged foods; cook from scratch. That way, you control portions, ingredients and additives (there won’t be any).
Potential Fat Trap: You’re using oversize tableware. The trend toward bigger plates, bowls, cups and serving dishes can get you in trouble. Serving yourself from a big bowl can prompt you to take more. So can plopping your serving onto an oversized plate or bowl.
How to Get Slimmer Together: Downsize your dinnerware. Try using the salad plates as dinner plates. Instead of putting serving bowls on the table, serve yourselves buffet-style in the kitchen. Make a new rule: Only have seconds of veggies and salad.
Potential Fat Trap: Food equals Romance. Wining and dining is a formula for romance in reel life — and real life. But don’t confuse steak and chocolate cake with love! In fact, they’re love busters, because high lousy LDL cholesterol and clogged arteries can hurt your sex life.
How to Get Slimmer Together: Skip restaurants with menus soaked in fried foods or red meats; look for new restaurants with healthier fare you can fall in love with. Grilled fish or veggies with beans, chicken or seafood prepared with delicious herbs and spices are great options. Then you’ll really be able to enjoy your romance.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.