The Marriage Diet: Are You Hurting Your Spouse’s Diet?

The marriage dietYour better half is committed to eating healthy in the New Year, and you’re behind ’em one hundred percent.

Or are you?

New research has found that when it comes to nutrition habits, we are who we’re hitched to.

Which means that, despite your nagging about his dangerous three-bag-a-day Cheeto addiction/her habitual midnight Taquito fests, you could actually be the culprit.


The Marriage Diet

A diet study published in November offered an inside look at this phenomenon. The research team, led by UC Berkeley’s Mark Pachuki, tracked the eating patterns of some 3,400 people—groups of spouses, friends, brothers and sisters—over a 10 year period.

As the decade stretched on, they watched in awe (or neutral scientific observation) as the husbands and wives of the study began eating more and more and more alike.
Spouses, they concluded, have a much stronger impact on a person’s food choices than friends, coworkers and other family.

Well, that’s not surprising: you grocery shop and cook together, you dine out together. Having rivaling food preferences doesn’t really work in a relationship.

But there’s more to it, I imagine. Not only do our brains naturally, subconsciously, imitate the things around us, but there is a singular tendency to mirror the objects of our affection.

That explains how even one’s most stubborn healthy habits can fade, as couples gently add pounds together over the years.

It also explains how Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux can unwittingly step out in matching outfits.

So Who Started It?

Um, good luck nailing down who baked the first butter-crumb-encrusted macaroni and cheese, or programmed the Pizza Hut number on speed dial.

The findings of the Couple’s Diet study present an opportunity. Not to justify food faults or point fingers, but to make a joint change.

If you are hoping your spouse will join you in discovering the merits of slow food and Whole Foods in 2012, you won’t need artful persuasion tactics or a stronghold on the shopping list. You won’t even need to—thank goodness—‘accidentally’ trip them on their way to calling Pizza Hut.

To get your spouse’s full healthy-eating support (as in, conscious and unconscious—cha-ching!), all you have to do is go first.

Consistency is key to make this change long-term and at times your spouse may sabotage your new found habits. Learning to deal with Sabotage may make all the difference.


  1. sandy says

    Chelsea, How true!!! Hadn’t really thought about it seriously. Just chuckled when hubby commented that he wasn’t a dessert guy till he married me. And I never touched potato chips & fries in the past, but boy watch me gobble ’em now! This is SO true that he is currently on a business trip and I actually said to myself, ‘this is my chance to get serious, eat healthy, get exercisin’ and drop a few.’ Thanks for the great insights, keep ’em comin’!
    sandy r

  2. Kate Nelson says

    This is so true! My husband and I (November Ship Shape winners as a couple) were successful with our lifestyle changes because we were both on the same page at the same time. Even through the holidays we have maintained our weight because we are always there to support each other.

  3. Amy Redford says

    Totally true! :) And for the record, he started it! My husband is very tall and lean, and has the metabolism of a growing 15 year old boy, even though he is 35. Over the years, my eating habits became more and more like him. On my 5’1″ body, this wasnt a good thing! We now dont eat so alike, but he is supportive and has been willing to make some small changes to accommodate the way my body needs fuel compared to his.

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