We'd like to introduce a new acronym: DWD. It stands for "dieting while dating," and according to a new study from North Carolina State University and the University of Texas at Austin, it's not always a good thing for your relationship. (Key words being "not always," because it can also be totally fine in certain circumstances.)
Here's the deal: Researchers surveyed 21 couples from across the country where one person in said couple had lost 60 pounds, on average, in less than two years. Then they asked them to fill out a detailed questionnaire alllll about their feelings on the weight-loss process and how it impacted their relationship.
"Most couples told us that the weight loss improved their relationship, namely because they felt more comfortable being open about healthy eating habits," says lead study author Lynsey Romo, Ph.D., assistant professor at North Carolina State University.
However, not all couples were in happy land--some also reported a bit of a dieting dark side. "Some of those who slimmed down said that they weren't happy with their partner because they felt he or she wasn't being supportive enough," says Romo. "On the flip side, some of those who didn't lose the weight said that they actually felt threatened or jealous because the power in their relationship shifted-and they therefore tried to sabotage their partner's good results."
So what exactly does this all come down to? Communication. "Weight loss isn't an individual thing if you do it while you're dating someone--it has an impact on the unit," says Romo. "So if you're going to make a conscious effort to eat better and slim down, be sure to get on the same page as your partner as early as possible."
Make sure to develop a support plan, too. "If you're the one trying to lose weight, tell your partner what you need, whether it's a daily check-in conversation or weekly incentives," says relationship expert Emily Morse, host of the Sex With Emily podcast on iTunes and SiriusXM. And if your partner's the one slimming down, be sure to do the same for them.
And if you're trying to lose weight but your partner isn't supportive, no matter how much you try to step up your communication with them? That's no reason to abandon your health goals. Anyone who tries to sabotage their partners' efforts is obviously a jerk, and their insecurities shouldn't get in the way of your mission to get healthy and do what's best for you.
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