Help your partner lose weight

If you’re concerned about your partner’s weight but they don’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 their journey to making a behavior change. Keep in mind that your partner has to be the one to initiate the change.

  • Precontemplation. Your partner is either unaware of the problem or has no intention to change.
  • Contemplation. They’re aware of the issue and might be seriously thinking of changing, but haven’t committed to take action.
  • Preparation. Your loved one plans to take action soon, although they might stay in this stage for a long time.
  • Action. Their behavior is modified during this stage. Remember that it takes considerable effort to change.
  • Maintenance. Your partner 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 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 they want 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 they’re 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 their 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 they still consume the same amount of calories. Their work schedule is important too. For example, “night-shift work” also can contribute to obesity.

Feelings about weight struggles within a marriage or committed relationship change over time, so don’t give up. 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.

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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.