Question: My partner and I are both overweight. I would love for us to get healthy together, but I don’t know how to get started. Weight and food is such a touchy subject and I’m not sure how to broach it. We’ve tried dieting before and nothing seems to work. Please help!
Answer: If you are concerned about your and or your partner’s weight, then try to engage your partner in a more healthful lifestyle that you do as a couple, as opposed to forcing yourself or both of you on a “diet.” Below are some simple tips to help control your weight, improve your health and strengthen your relationship.
• Shop together: Make joint decisions about the food you bring into your house. Some simple guidelines to keep in mind are: 1) increase plant-based foods and decrease animal-based foods; 2) choose snacks that are in a whole food form, such as an apple or almonds as opposed to processed and convenience foods such as chips; 3) choose whole grains over white flour. Sometimes, it’s helpful to start this process by making it fun in some way. For example, for the first few times, shop someplace unique, like trying out the farmer’s market or a specialty store.
• Cook together: Meal preparation can also become a couples event, which is good for your relationship and can even foster more intimacy. You may not be able to cook together every night, but even a few nights during the week or on weekends can be helpful in terms of keeping your partner involved in meal planning. If you have never been very active in the kitchen, keep it simple at first. Some couples find that having small dinner parties for friends really mobilizes their cooking team into action and prompts them to find an array of healthy recipes that work for them.
• Exercise together: Work on ways you both can get more physical activity, alone or preferably as a couple. Take walks together and go to the gym together. Buy one another sessions with a physical trainer at the gym to learn how to workout effectively. In addition to a workout routine, the best kind of exercise employs play of some kind – ideally with each other. This is the time to start couples tennis, ballroom dancing, cross-country skiing, golf, or whatever activity interests you.
• De-Stress together: Stress reduction practices, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), have proven very effective in minimizing distress and improving metabolic function – two important factors for weight control. Exploring new stress management tools with your partner makes it easier to integrate them into your daily life. For more information on available mindfulness programs, go to jeffersonhospital.org/cim.
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