I’ve decided to do a little mini blog post series looking at different times in which we might find out diets are challenged. After all, with all the talk of new year, new me, I don’t think it could be much better timing! But as most readers of my blog will know, I’ve been following the Weight Watcher’s diet for a while now, and I find it really helps me to get a good balance in life – I’m not always perfect (if I was, I suppose I wouldn’t be doing it anymore!) but it does help me to get a tangible grasp of how I’m doing.
But then around 2 months ago, I moved in my boyfriend, Dan. A little bit of context – my boyfriend is 6 foot 5 and at 23 has only just started to realise he can’t eat exactly what he wants, whenever. BUT, and it’s a big but, if he even thinks about eating a little less, he’s lost a couple of pounds, and he has always been slim and never needed to watch his weight. So I guess you could say he’s pretty much the opposite of me.
So here goes. Surviving a diet – when your partner isn’t dieting. Of course, this applies to anyone, a housemate at uni or otherwise, a parent, or a child, but it just so happens I’m living with my boyfriend. Here are a few lessons I’ve learnt.
1. Ditch the diet mentality
It’s not ground-breaking and if you’ve ever read a book on healthy eating, you’ll know all about it, but ditching the diet mentality will pay dividends. That is, don’t think of being ‘on’ or ‘off’ the diet. If you’ve had one more chocolate than you meant to, don’t write the day off. Having Saturday night off for a meal doesn’t mean you’re destined to never lose a pound. Just have controlled indulgences. And don’t feel like you’re eating on a diet, when your partner isn’t.
2. Accept your issues
It’s a sad truth, but true nonetheless. Most of us who are dieting (or should I say, healthy eating, ahem) have dieted before, and a large slab of us will diet again. Accept that you will probably always have to watch your weight, and get over it. Your partner may not have to – that’s just life. Also, add some context here. I am a 5 foot 8 woman with a job where I spend most of it sat at a desk. Dan is 6 foot 5 and has a physical job fixing ambulances. Sometimes, life is fair, we just forget to add in the context.
3. Don’t deprive yourself
It would be excruciating to see anyone eat your favourite food in front of you, let alone your favourite person. So why deprive yourself? Just have a bit less. My boyfriend, Dan, and I have very similar tastes in food, and when I knew we had onion bhajis in the freezer to go with a homemade curry, I knew I couldn’t pass altogether. But while Dan had 2, I had 1. And that’s controlled indulgence. I couldn’t go no carb like some people either, so I always have rice or whatever the carb may be, but I just have less. One thing I never scrimp on = coriander. Yum.
Dan’s portion of homemade Thai Green Curry vs. mine (probably not the best example, as these portions defeated both of us!)
4. Get them on board
A lot of maintaining my weight for me lies in portion control, not food choice. I may have a few too many snacks sometimes, but mainly, if I keep my portions down, I’m doing alright. I always cook from scratch – or should I say, Dan does, as he’s normally home before I am – and that’s where getting them on board comes in. Dan is a good cook, but without some instructions before, it wouldn’t even have crossed his mind to weigh out potatoes. I just leave a little note in the morning with anything special he needs to know, like quantities of carby things like pasta, rice, noodles or potatoes, and voila. Oh, and we never eat different meals. As with the last point, if I had to sit and watch him eat a lasagne (one of my absolute favourites) every evening, I don’t think we’d be living together too much longer.
This little gadget is really rather handy – you can use the hole for measuring a portion of spaghetti, but generally I use it for keeping noodles and pasta separate to Dan’s portion, so it’s easy to measure out when it’s cooked. Unfortunately, doesn’t work so great for rice, as it falls through the holes!
5. Make time for exercise
I don’t need to sit here and preach about the benefits of exercise. Dan joined the same gym that I go to pretty much a couple of weeks in to us living together, and we try to make it at least 2 – 3 times a week. It’s going okay, and actually, we both sleep better because of it. Whether you need to watch your weight or not, exercise is a great way to wind down after work, and definitely takes the pressure off small indulgences at meal times.
6. Learn to make changes
There is having a little of what you want, but there’s also making changes. Fajitas are one of my all-time favourite meals – you know the Old El Paso ones, and lots of them. But Dan and I can easily polish off a pack for 4 people as a weekend treat. Last weekend I decided to stop sabotaging my progress with this meal, and allowed myself a single wrap, and used baby gem lettuce leaves for the others. Lettuce isn’t my favourite, but with all the yumminess inside, it really was a satisfying swap so I could still enjoy one of my favourite meals without the guilt.
7. Accept your mistakes
Finally, accept you’ll make mistakes. There’s still Christmas chocolate hanging around, and as I write this, Dan is sat across the living room eating some. I can’t stop him from living his life, nor would I ever want to, and sometimes, I’ll want one too. That’s okay, one 100 calorie chocolate won’t make you put on a stone – in fact, let’s talk realistically, it won’t make you put on a pound so stop fretting. But stop there. What will two bring you that one didn’t?
Next time: Surviving the diet… when you’re at work