The Secret to Diet Success? Your Spouse

By: Dilia Narduzzi  |  Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Research shows your partner can either help you succeed or sabotage your efforts. Here are 3 tips to get—and give—support in your relationship.

Discuss your goals


The first step in almost any diet plan is to make a goal, but it’s equally crucial to talk about those goals with the important people in your life.
If your partner reacts negatively to your new diet, try to find middle ground.
Ask questions about small changes he or she may be willing to start with, says Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, a psychotherapist and relationship coach in Virginia.
“Could we eat at 7 p.m. instead of 8? Could we go for a walk together? Could we try eating some different foods together?” are all great examples.

Don’t be bossy


Research shows when one spouse makes positive health changes, the other is more inclined to do the same. However, you can’t force your partner into making changes he or she may not be ready to make, says Coleman—and doing so may backfire.
Case in point: women aged 20 to 31 whose significant others encouraged them to diet to lose weight were almost twice as likely to binge eat than those with partners who didn’t exert diet pressure, according to an American Journal of Health Promotion study.
So let your partner see the positive physical and attitude changes in you—and he or she may naturally follow suit.

Reach out to friends


Even if your mate is supportive—but especially if he or she isn’t—reach out to other people in your social circle.
Perhaps not surprisingly, we tend to eat the same way as our peers do, reports a Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics study, so connect with people who share your vision for healthy eating.
Then, find-non-food-focused activities to enjoy with those who may not be as supportive. This way, you can still enjoy your friends' company, without feeling like your healthy-eating efforts are being sabotaged.