Avoid relationship weight gain: couple sharing burgers together
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You’re not just imagining it.

A new study has revealed it takes just 15 months to develop weight gain after starting a new romance. Here's how to stop piling on the pounds when you’re loved up…

1) Don’t snack when watching TV together

Enjoy binge watching box sets together? It could be the reason for your weight gain. “Don’t eat while watching TV,” says Mark Gilbert, Commercial Nutritionist at The 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan. “Often, when people settle down they go out less and instead watch their favourite series or a movie at night. This often includes snacks. Large amounts of research has shown that when people are distracted while eating (like while watching TV), they eat more and they may even eat more later on that day. The solution is to either not eat during the movie or select low-calorie, filling snacks. Salted popcorn, if it’s not buttered or sweetened, is very low in calories, so a great choice.”

2) Planning your meals can stop weight gain

“Nothing will change without a plan,” says Mark. “Again, couples are more likely to stay in, eat dinner and snack both before and after dinner. If your meals or your snacks have too much starch or fat or sugar, getting into this kind of routine is sure to expand your waistline. So have a plan. Eat healthy meals and snacks most days of the week and then plan one or two nights (usually at weekends) to eat what you want. Once you get into this habit, it becomes easy to stick to because you’ve always got something to look forward to. Plus, you'll appreciate it more when you eat forbidden foods occasionally instead of daily. A top tip is to eat foods higher in protein, with lots of vegetables and fibre.”

Avoid relationship weight gain: woman eating salad

Credit: Getty Images

3) Don’t just copy what your partner does

Do you eat what your partner does, because you don’t want to hurt their feelings? If you want salad, then have salad. “One of the things women naturally tend to do in a relationship is over compromising. And this often means eating in a way they wouldn’t before and opting for the same foods (and frequently the same-sized portions) as their partner,” says Ailsa Hichens, Registered Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach at Food Fabulous. “From speaking to women in my weight loss clinic, it seems to stem from a desire to be more attractive by not looking like they are "boring" because they are “on a diet”. But it’s OK and healthy (in fact, it’s essential for the longevity of any relationship) to say: “I want what I want”.”

4) Never lose your focus to stay slim

“When women are on a weight loss journey, it usually begins with moving away from a perceived negative aspect about themselves relating to their shape or appearance,” says Ailsa. “Once they bag the partner, this signals a feeling of “I am accepted” and soon the “pain” that they were moving away from is forgotten. Suddenly the healthy eating habits they have established go out of the window. Instead, try thinking about what you would like your life to look like going forward. You’ve got the partner but what else do you want for yourself? You might still want to work on your energy levels or on your fitness. Take some time to vision what you actually want. You're then much more likely to stick to any health goals you have.”

5) Get your sweat on together to stop weight gain

“You don’t have to go to the gym or run every day but get into the habit of doing some semi-vigorous activity at least three times per week,” says Mark. “Obviously, doing more is better but three times per week is the bare minimum to avoid the bulge. So find an activity that you both like (or find a gym at which you can each do your own thing you like) and do at least three 30-90 minute sessions per week. Again, once this becomes habit, you'll hate when you have to miss your workout.”

Faye M Smith
Senior Health and Lifestyle Writer

Faye M Smith is a Senior Health And Lifestyle writer working across Woman & Home, Feel Good You, Woman’s Own and Woman magazine.  Having gained an NCTJ postgraduate diploma, Faye has worked for 15 years in journalism, covering a range of lifestyle topics for companies including the BBC, Press Association, News UK and Hachette.