Is your HUSBAND making you fat? How your partner can make insomnia worse, derail your


Dreams of matrimony often involve a magical engagement, a big white wedding followed by partnership until the end of your days.

But the reality doesn’t always match the fantasy, as romantic dinners are replaced by mindless snacking on the sofa contributing to weight gain and nights of passion become battles over the duvet, leading to poor sleep.

In fact, so-called wedded bliss could increase spouses’ likelihood of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes.

So how can we limit the negative impact of marriage and boost the positive effects? We ask the experts….

So-called wedded bliss could increase spouses¿ likelihood of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes

So-called wedded bliss could increase spouses’ likelihood of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes

The problem: YOU’RE PUTTING ON WEIGHT

If your waistband is feeling snug, and you don’t dare step on the scales – you’ve probably become one of the many people who’ve gained weight after marriage.

In fact, according to a 2012 study by the US Obesity Society of 8,000 people, on average women gained 24lb in the first five years of marriage.

While, a 2013 Texas study found that it’s the happier couples who are most likely to pile on the pounds.

‘Spouses in satisfying relationships relax their efforts to maintain their weight because they are no longer motivated to attract a mate,’ the study concludes.

… And how marriage can IMPROVE your health

It reduces pain

In 2017, investigators from the University of Colorado, Boulder and the University of Haifa in Israel found that when heterosexual couples touch when the woman is in pain, their heart rates and respiratory patterns synchronise which then reduces her pain levels.

It helps achieve your healthy goals

In 2015, researchers funded by Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, and the National Institute on Aging, scientists at University College London (UCL) found that among women who smoked, 50 per cent succeeded in giving it up for good if their partner quit at the same time.

It changes your microbiome

Couples who live together influence the bacteria and microbes that live on each other’s skin, with feet having the most similar microbiomes. ‘You shower and walk on the same floor barefoot. This process likely serves as a form of microbial exchange with your partner, and also with your home itself,’ says Prof. Josh Neufeld from the University of Waterloo, Canada, about the 2017 findings.

It protects your heart

Happily married couples are three times as likely to be alive 15 years after coronary bypass surgery as their unmarried counterparts, researchers found in 2012.

And married people are less likely to have cardiovascular problems than individuals who are single, divorced or widowed.

The spouse solution: 

Sports and registered nutritionist Rob Hobson, sports and registered nutritionist at Healthspan and author of Unprocess Your Life says that men and women need different amounts of food and energy for their bodies.

‘The calorie guidance for men is 2,500 daily and for women is 2,000 but these figures are meant as a general reference as everyone is different,’ he says.

Clinical Psychologist Dr Jen Bateman says that we can, ‘sometimes unconsciously, adapt our true needs and preferences to fit in with our life partner.

‘Practically, in terms of our health goals, this may translate to finishing everything on our overloaded plate because they’ve served it to us, or give in to their suggestion of “grabbing a takeaway” to people-please or stay on the same page.

‘Make your partner aware of your dilemma – that you’d love to stay up late or grab the takeaways when they offer them – but it’s making it tricky to stick to your healthy goals, and asking for their support towards your goals.’

The problem: EATING TOGETHER ISN’T GIVING YOU THE RIGHT NUTRIENTS

Eating regular takeaways, catering for a picky palate and sticking to tried and tested meals can mean women miss out on key nutrients.

‘Women during their reproductive years need more iron than men, with the recommended daily allowance (RDA) about 18mg for women and 8mg for men,” says Hobson.

‘Men can require more zinc, and more protein due to larger muscle mass and higher overall caloric needs.’

The spouse solution: 

Aiming for a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, legumes, lean protein and fish in your diet can help deliver the vitamins and minerals you need.

Hobson suggests taking a multivitamin to ensure you’re getting enough, such as Healthspan’s MultiVitality Pro, 90 tablets for £17.49.

‘Lycopene, found in red vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes, is beneficial for men, lowering stroke and prostate cancer risk,’ he says.

‘Nuts and seeds are a great source of zinc for men, as well as magnesium which is lacking in many women’s diets.

‘Phytoestrogens, plant compounds that have a similar structure to oestrogen, are good for women during perimenopause and menopause, so try eating more beans.

‘These are also a good source of fibre, which helps to reduce the risk of heart disease – the leading cause of premature death in men.

‘Phytosterols – natural, plant-based compounds that can help reduce cholesterol – may also help with enlarged prostate.’

A plant sterol supplement such as Healthspan’s Plant Sterols, 90 tablets for £19.49, could also help your heart health.

Sleeping in the same bed as your husband might not be as restful as you¿d imagine, whether it¿s floor-shaking snoring or fights over the thermostat

Sleeping in the same bed as your husband might not be as restful as you’d imagine, whether it’s floor-shaking snoring or fights over the thermostat

The problem: YOUR PARTNER’S SNORING IS RUINING YOUR SLEEP

How to stick to YOUR diet

Clinical Psychologist Dr Jen Bateman reveals the trick that can stop you falling off the healthy-eating bandwagon

When it comes to being faced with temptation, we only really have the power of our mind to not give in when the food is calling us.

Create a one sentence reminder that summarises your ‘Big Why’, which is the reason why you’re committed to making this change to your health.

Then when the tempting voice of, ‘I want that now!’ pops into our head when we compare ourselves with our partner, we can answer back with our ‘big why’ reminder.

Some reminders that clients have shared with me that work for them are:

● I’m choosing to be healthier so I can look great in my clothes.

● I’m choosing to lose weight so my teenagers aren’t embarrassed when I’m with their friends.

● I’m choosing to lose weight so I can feel free when I’m on holiday – to wear what I really want to and not have to get a seatbelt extender on the plane.

● I’m choosing to cut down on sugar so I’m a good role model to my children or grandchildren.

Sleeping in the same bed as your husband might not be as restful as you’d imagine, whether it’s floor-shaking snoring or fights over the thermostat.

In fact, a 2021 study on the impact of bed-sharing on sleep found that, ‘while males may get apparent benefits from bed sharing, female sleep may be disturbed by bed sharing with a spouse.’

While less than five hours of sleep a night is linked with a range of health problems including heart disease and diabetes, it can also impact our weight.

‘Sleep deprivation causes fatigue and tiredness, impacting our motivation to eat well and keep active,’ says Dr Bateman.

‘Coupled with this, when we feel fatigued we have a tendency to reach for high calorie food for an energy boost to get through the demands of the day.’

The spouse solution: 

‘Sleeping on the back often worsens snoring, so encourage your husband to sleep on his side,’ suggests Dr Bateman.

‘And raising the head of the bed by a few inches can help prevent the tongue and soft tissues in the throat from blocking the airway.

‘Going to bed before the snoring partner can help you fall asleep first and potentially sleep through the snoring, while earplugs or a white noise machine can help drown out the sound.’

Your male partner may need to make some lifestyle changes: ‘Excess body weight, especially around the neck, can tighten the throat, making snoring worse,’ says Dr Bateman.

‘Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help maintain a healthy weight.’

‘Alcohol relaxes the muscles of the throat, which can exacerbate snoring, so avoiding it in the hours before bedtime.’

Ultimately, you may find a ‘sleep divorce’ – when you sleep in different rooms – is the best way to ensure both partners get quality sleep.

The problem: HE’S DERAILING YOUR DIET

Going on a health kick with your partner seems like a good idea, after all it’s easier to reduce your intake of processed foods, booze and excess snacks when you’re in it together.

However, it can have the opposite effect. 

‘When people strive to reach a goal, being close (in this case, romantically) with someone who is successfully reaching the same goal can make the other partner less confident in their own efforts to reach the goal,’ says Jennifer Jill Harman, an associate professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, after studying the subject in 2014.

Going on a health kick with your partner seems like a good idea, after all it¿s easier to reduce your intake of processed foods, booze and excess snacks when you¿re in it together

Going on a health kick with your partner seems like a good idea, after all it’s easier to reduce your intake of processed foods, booze and excess snacks when you’re in it together

The spouse solution: 

 ‘You could consider making some “deals” with your partner so you can both help each other towards your goal,’ says Dr Bateman.

‘For example, if they support you with your healthy eating or sleep goals, what can you do to support them with one of their life goals?

‘Or if they promise not to tempt you with a takeaway or they clear the leftovers so you’re not tempted, could you promise to take something off their task list, such as taking the bins out.

‘If you’re both committed to a health or weight goal, you may like to experiment with using the hunger rating scale to keep you accountable to staying on track,’ she says.

‘“Tune in” to your tummy and rate your level of stomach hunger or fullness on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being feeling completely full.

‘Pausing to ask each other what your hunger number is can provide a quick pause before deciding whether to top up the snack bowl.’

It can help with breaking bad snacking habits too. ‘Find a hobby you can do together or go for a walk before bed rather than reverting to Netflix and chilling,’ she says.

‘Keep healthier snacks in stock such as plain popcorn or chopped fruit, and watch how you are both eating across the day.

‘Meal skippers tend to eat more at night so try to address your overall diet and not just the late night snacking.’

Mars and Venus is real! Men and women really ARE different 

From bones and fat to hearts – sports and registered nutritionist Rob Hobson points out where the sexes diverge

Muscles

Men typically have more muscle mass than women due to higher levels of testosterone.

This hormone plays a key role in muscle growth and development. Men also generally have greater upper body strength and a higher capacity for muscle hypertrophy (increased muscle size).

Fat

Women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat compared to men. Women’s bodies are genetically programmed to hold more fat, particularly in the breasts, hips, and thighs, as part of reproductive health.

Men, on the other hand, typically accumulate fat around the abdomen.

Bones

Men usually have larger, denser bones than women. This difference becomes more pronounced after women go through menopause, as the reduction in oestrogen levels can lead to decreased bone density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Men generally have a faster metabolism than women because their higher muscle mass leads to a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR).

This means that men burn more calories at rest than women, which can affect dietary needs and weight management strategies.

Hearts

Men’s hearts are typically larger than women’s, and they have a higher blood volume and haemoglobin content. This means that men’s hearts can pump more blood with each beat compared to women’s hearts.

Hormones

Men and women have different hormonal balances, with men having higher levels of testosterone and women having higher levels of oestrogen and progesterone.

These hormones influence many aspects of physiology and behaviour, from physical characteristics like muscle strength and body hair to emotional and cognitive behaviours.



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