Wednesday, 26 November 2014

What's the Calorie Count of Love?

You have had a really good week – you worked out a few times – you ate properly – you kept your portions under control – and you’re feeling pretty good.  Then the unthinkable happens …

… Your mom bakes your absolutely favourite cake and brings it over to have with coffee

… Your husband comes home with a treat from your favourite ice cream shop because HE had a craving

… Your friend (who can eat whatever he/she wants and never gain an ounce) offers to treat you to lunch at the newest food truck – the one with no salads on their menu

Sound familiar?

We’ve all been there!

Everyone’s intentions are good, but tempting a dieter with food or treats they know are forbidden is probably an unconscious act on their part.  Yet, when it happens, it can make it difficult when you are trying to stick to your diet.  We’ve discussed sabotage (intentional or not) by family and friends before so this time I want to focus on the worst culprit of all – the person you share you home with – your husband or partner.

While it may seem that your loved one is deliberately tempting you by bringing home that ice cream treat or you favourite donut, but experts say that their intentions are not as evil as you may think.  People who don’t have issues with food often do not realize the level of temptation that those of us on diets experience.

The most important thing to do is let them know how difficult it is when they lovingly offer temptation.  They need to understand that no one has an unending supply of willpower – and no matter how strong you are you cannot stare at fattening foods every day without your willpower breaking down.  Tell them not to bring you food as gifts – and nicely ask that they eat any calorie-laden food they may enjoy when you are not around to see, hear or smell it.

Even if your partner tries his/her best not to tempt you, there are many other reasons that you might gain weight when you are in a marriage/partnership.  Weight gain happens to men too, but since our TOPS group is all ladies at the moment and, with regards to weight gain in relationships the truth of the matter is – the female typically gains it. I am going to focus on why women gain the weight.

Why does it happen?

It’s more than just the “nesting-bulge”.  In a relationship where men and women are sharing the same space one does as the other does. When women start sharing meals with their husbands, eating habits change.  Some men might actually begin eating healthier; better balance meals, fruits, and veggies, while women might start eating LESS healthy – they begin to allow more junk food into the house and they start consuming larger portions, similar to those their partner’s are enjoying.  Portion judgement seems to go out the window.  With smaller muscle mass and body size, women don’t need as many calories to keep the body functioning.  When there is excess – weight gain is inevitable!

The phenomenon is very real and is called “Spousal Concordance”.  It happens more frequently in the
beginnings of relationships but can carry through the years, or begin at any point.  Are you an empty nester with only two mouths to cook for instead of more?  Did you or hubby recently retire and now you spend more time in each other’s company?  Spousal concordance is sneaky and you may not even be aware it’s happening … have you submitted to his Sunday TV binge-watching routine?  Joined his late-night taco runs?  When women spend more time at home with their mates, they tend to shift towards eating more and exercising less.  Beware of those upcoming fall and winter nights when the TV and ice cream seem very appealing. 

In the March 2010 issue of Women’s Health they offer some reason why the weight gain happens and how to get it back under control.

You match him bite for bite – it’s tough to stick to tiny portions when your partner downs 500 to
1500 more calories than a day than you do.  Women tend to develop “portion distortion”.  You don’t recognize a normal-size serving anymore because you are always eating with a guy who consumes huge platefuls of food.  He might be able to get away with it because men have more muscle mass, so they require more calories, but shovelling in all those extra forkfuls WILL eventually catch up to you.

How can you fix this?  It’s pretty basic!  Serve yourself less.  Eat about three quarters of what he’s eating.  Sorry, but women burn 26 percent fewer calories than men do, so at that rate you’ll break just about even.  It’s not fair but it is what it is … men lose weight faster then women too … can’t hate them for the cards Mother Nature dealt.

His snacks are your snacks – you might not buy chips for yourself, but when he leaves the bag out on the coffee table, you need supreme willpower to ignore it.  Believe it or not women are more likely to adopt their partner’s eating habits than vice-versa.  For some reason women feel that this is a way for them to “connect” with the men in their lives.

How do you fix this?  Know your options.  You have two diet-friendly choices.  Serve yourself a small amount of his snack and put it on a plate.  Dipping your hand into the bag over and over again leads to nothing but diet disaster.  Or, have a portion controlled, lower-calorie alternative on hand to munch while he takes down that bag of chips or pint of ice cream.  Pop Chips(120 calories per serving), with just three servings in a big bag can satisfy your salt craving, while hockey puck size Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches (140 calories each) fill in nicely for fattening frozen desserts.  Who knows – you may even convert him!

If you eat out all the time – sometimes life gets busy and cooking a meal seems like one more thing you
have to do.  The easiest solution is to order in, grab something on the way home or go out to a restaurant.  That’s bad news for your waistline.  A study of 24 national chains revealed that the average entrée at a sit down restaurant contains 867 calories.  And that does not include Apps, sides, drinks and dessert.

How can you fix it?  Cook meals together.  Not only can it be some time that you can share together (food is a bonding experience) but also you can control the fat and calories by using healthy recipes and ingredients that are low fat.

You are always at home – with the kids, on the couch, in the kitchen – anywhere but at the gym.  A study by the Obesity Journal found that couples who live together for two or more years are less likely to be physically active, and the women are the ones more likely to become obese.  As positive as relationships can be, they also change your routine. 

How can you fix it?  Get him involved.  Women who exercised with a partner lost more weight than those who sweated it out solo.  When people do something together they are more likely to stick with it.  You don’t have to join a gym – just decide to go for a walk after dinner every night.  In a perfect rose-coloured world – when you don’t feel like going, he’ll drag you out, and you’ll do the same for him.

So – I guess love does come with calories.  But stop blaming you partner/spouse for your weight gain.  They are not forcing you to consume the food – you own that decision.  But, by the same token don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Love may have calories but it should also have understanding.  Adding a few extra pounds isn’t the really bad part.  Starting unhealthy habits is! 

If you both need to get back on healthier track, set small goals you can achieve together.  Commit to taking that 15-minute walk together, or forgo take-out (whether fast food or green juice) twice a week in favour of a home cooked meal.

If you partner does not want to or does not need to participate, nicely ask for his support 
of your efforts … and CARRY ON!

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