This question comes from a reader in Ann Arbor, MI.
I am 26 years old and my boyfriend is 28. We have a pretty good relationship, but I often feel like we eat too much together. Since I’ve been with him, I’ve gained close to ten pounds. We hang out most nights and we usually sit in front of the television and eat nachos together or we go out to eat and usually have burgers or pizza or burritos or something equally unhealthy. We wake up on Saturday and Sunday mornings and go out to brunch. Seriously, I feel like all we do is eat. I’m becoming totally miserable. I’ve talked to him about it and he doesn’t seem to care or he looks at me like I’m nuts. But I feel gross and I’m getting depressed. What should I do?
-Lisa in Michigan
Thanks for your question. I hear what you are saying – your relationship is beginning to revolve around food instead of each other and it’s detracting from the relationship itself. You’re becoming increasingly dissatisfied with your eating habits and your weight gain is making you uncomfortable.
Sometimes in family therapy we talk about triangulation- that is when another person is pulled into the relationship to avoid or disperse conflict. But triangulation doesn’t always happen with a third person, it can also happen with drugs, food, or alcohol. Is there something that the two of you are avoiding in your relationship? You say that you watch TV every night over nachos, does that mean that you’re not talking to each other? Are there any feelings that you might be having about this relationship that you are not looking at? Check through this article to assess if there is something more there or if you and your bf are using food to avoid.
But it does not necessarily have to be that complex of an issue. It can also just be more of some bad habits that the two of you have slipped into due to the nature of being in a new relationship. Most people do gain weight when they get into a relationship. They are less active and begin to spend more time nesting and cuddling, which starts out as happiness but ultimately causes you to feel bad.
Use the following suggestions to help you find other ways to deal with this.
1. Explain to your BF that you are not feeling happy with the food situation. Use I statements. “My habits have changed quite a bit since we began dating, I love our time together and I enjoy our cuddly nights and lazy weekend morning so much, but I have gained ten pounds because of how much my eating habits have changed! I’d like to start doing things together that don’t revolve around eating so much…”
2. Make suggestions for things you guys can do in the evenings besides eat and watch TV.
–find recipes and teach yourselves to cook healthy meals.
-Cook healthy meals together
-On weekend mornings, explore farmers markets to buy the ingredients for said healthy meals
-While the weather is still nice, go on hikes, either urban hikes or find some nice trails
-Go apple picking
-Go out to see live music
-Go to a comedy club – open mike nights are cheap and fun
-Go out to the movies
-Stay home and read out loud to each other. Choose a book that you’ve both been dying to read and read it outloud!
-Do something crafty like building furniture.
-Go to thrift stores or the Salvation Army, pick out some old grubby furniture, bring it home, refinish it, paint it and sell it or keep it for yourselves
-Do a yoga video together
-Have sex. Just have a ton of sex. You’re young, no kids, have more sex!
-Go out dancing.
-Stay in and have a dance party alone together
-Make ridiculously funny youtube videos
-Write a story together
-Work on a fun blog together
-Do beach clean up
-Plant a garden
-Go to animal shelters and walk dogs
-Train for a 5k
-Create scavenger hunts for each other
-Go to the gym
-Go to the beach/lake and go swimming
3. If your boyfriend still has no interest in doing non-food related activities, you might consider making plans separate from him sometimes, this doesn’t mean that you are rejecting him or breaking up with him, but it’s important to individuate (be your own person, not just part of a couple) so that you don’t feel resentful and like your life is just going along for the ride of his life.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. Please do feel free to ask anymore questions in the comments or add to this conversation.
Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started.
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