You're doing everything you can to lose weight, but your spouse either doesn't need to diet or isn't interested. Find out how you can still stick to your plan.
By Madeline Vann, MPH
Medically reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH
You've been trying to lose weight and stick to a diet plan that helps you feel good and achieve your goals, only to watch your significant other bust out a bowl of chips and a chocolate bar as an evening snack. Whether your spouse is naturally slender or ignoring his own weight problem, you can take steps to keep your diet from derailing.
Lose Weight: Dieting With a Non-Dieting Spouse
Many a dieter has wished her spouse would change his ways so she could achieve her diet goals. While it may be tempting to simply throw up your hands, creative strategies that curb frustration can help, says one resourceful dieter.
"I'm not going to blame my husband for this, but I am around him all the time and he can eat anything and everything that he wants," notes Frances Simon, a writer based in New Orleans who says she is committed to make this the year she returns to her goal weight. "He has a completely different metabolism and he exercises all the time, whereas I find it hard just to find the time."
For years, her husband's habit of snacking during the evening TV shows they enjoyed together undermined her diet plans. Even though Simon reports that she has found a Mediterranean-style weight loss plan that keeps her feeling full, she still sometimes has to fight the temptation to snack along with him.
"Best thing I've learned [to combat] the evening snacking — which I am not going to change about him — is knitting. If I keep my hands busy, I won't start eating," says Simon.
Lose Weight: Communicating Your Goals
While you may be frustrated that your spouse doesn't "get" your diet, your spouse may actually feel threatened by your resolve, says Emily Banes, RD, clinical dietitian at the Houston Northwest Medical Center. "Sometimes if they just realize how important it is, if they realize you're trying to do it to change your health and you're not going to leave them, it helps."
Although it may not seem like your attempt to lose weight should bother your husband or other family members, Banes says loved ones may worry that certain activities you used to do together, such as going out to eat, may now be off-limits.
Banes recommends reassuring your family that you will still do things and go to places you have enjoyed in the past, although perhaps less frequently. To do this successfully, she suggests you come up with your own game plan ahead of time so you know what you will or won't eat when you're out together.
For example, Simon has made a personal commitment to cut back on calorie-laden cocktails and wine when dining out. She also often brings a serving of nuts in her purse in case she needs to stave off the urge to order unhealthy items on the menu or take the edge off hunger while waiting for everyone to order.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, communicating your goals to your spouse is pivotal to your weight loss. Here are some ideas:
- Convey a positive message. Simon tells her spouse, "I love you, you love me, and this is a form of self-love. I'm taking care of myself, and I know you want me to do that.
- Explain your process. If your family teases you about your diet strategies, like weighing portions, explain that you are more successful when you take these measures.
- Talk about what you can eat instead of what you can't. Avoid boring non-dieters with all the details of your plan.
- Cook separate meals if necessary, but encourage your spouse to try some of the new dishes you are eating, especially if he has a weight problem too. He just might like them!