Help your partner lose weight

If you’re concerned about your partner’s weight but she or he doesn’t seem worried, there are things you can do to create a healthy eating environment at home. Pushing or pressuring your loved one won’t work and might make things worse.

Instead, consider where your partner is in the “Stages of Change.” These are the stages one goes through on his or her journey to making a behavior change. Keep in mind that he or she has to be the one to initiate the change.

The “Stages of Change” steps are:

  • Precontemplation. Your partner is either unaware of the problem or has no intention to change.
  • Contemplation. She or he is aware of the issue and might be seriously thinking of changing, but hasn’t committed to take action.
  • Preparation. Your loved one plans to take action soon, although he or she might stay in this stage for a long time.
  • Action. His or her behavior is modified during this stage. Remember that it takes considerable effort to change.
  • Maintenance. She or he works hard to prevent relapse during this stage.
  • Termination. Your loved one has accomplished the change.

If your partner hasn’t transitioned to the “Action” stage yet, you can quietly make some lifestyle changes, which can help him or her feel loved, confident, and ready to make a change as well. You can create a nutritious eating environment at home too.

Make “changes” in the kitchen

  • Lower the total fat and sugar content for your favorite family or childhood meal.
  • Offer to send your partner to work with a packed lunch and healthy snacks.
  • Use smaller plates, bowls, and glasses to decrease portion sizes. And plate food at mealtimes, so your partner will need to get up if she or he wants to eat more.
  • Boost healthy homemade meals with even more fruits and vegetables.

Do healthy activities together

  • Sign up for a healthy cooking class.
  • Go on a grocery store “nutrition tour.”
  • Look for “new to you” foods in the produce, fish, or grains aisles on your next shopping trip. Find nourishing foods that you might consider buying and trying.
  • Before eating out, ask if your partner would be interested in sharing an entrée together.
  • Take a brisk walk while you talk and catch up on each other’s day.
  • If you enjoy running, encourage your loved one to ride a bike alongside you.

If you’re preparing for deployment, plan accordingly. Try to find support for your partner while you’re gone, if he or she is in the right “stage of change” and agreeable.

Be patient

There are a variety of factors that contribute to one’s body weight. The better you know your partner, you might better understand his or her weight struggles. Much attention has been focused on the obesity epidemic in the U.S. Some possible contributing factors could be family genetics or dietary patterns during childhood. Or maybe your loved one played competitive sports in high school or college, and he or she still consumes the same amount of calories. Your partner’s work schedule is important too. For example, some evidence suggests that “night-shift work” also can contribute to obesity.

Debrief

Feelings about weight struggles within a marriage or committed relationship change over time, so don’t give up on your loved one. Make changes at home as you can. In time, your partner might be ready for some positive healthy changes that could lead to weight loss.

References

Ledyard, M., & Morrison, N. (2008). The Meaning of Weight in Marriage: A phenomenological investigation of relational factors involved in obesity. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 7(3), 230–247. doi:10.1080/15332690802237946

Norcross, J. C., Krebs, P. M., & Prochaska, J. O. (2011). Stages of change. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67(2), 143–154. doi:10.1002/jclp.20758

Prochaska, J. O., & Norcross, J. C. (2001). Stages of change. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 38(4), 443–448. doi:10.1037//0033-3204.38.4.443

Sirtori, C. R., Peplonska, B., Bukowska, A., & Sobala, W. (2015). Association of rotating night shift work with bmi and abdominal obesity among nurses and midwives. Plos One, 10(7), e0133761. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133761

Wansink, B. (2010). Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. New York, NY: Bantam Books.