Ever since the recent University of North Carolina study linked marriage to weight gain, people have asked me if the reverse is true. Can getting divorced help you lose weight? The answer is that sometimes, yes, breaking up can help you lighten up, but not necessarily for the obvious reasons.
Your spouse can be a huge influence on your health. If you partner didn’t support your attempts to eat healthfully and exercise, separating from that person could positively affect your waistline.
Many women I’ve worked with in my private practice lose weight after divorce partly because the unhealthy, unsupportive influence is gone. Also out of the picture: the source of some of the couple’s food conflicts that contributed to the woman’s weight gain. However, the primary cause for post-divorce weight loss has to do with the absence of something else. Often, women who divorce lose the ravenous appetite that the marital stress caused. After that difficult chapter of their lives is behind them, they often lose their cravings. That positive change can jump-start a health kick that prompts them to improve their diets and work out more, especially if they intend to start dating.
If you’re newly single, it’s certainly a good time to consider making healthy lifestyle changes. Here are three ways to get started:
1. Stock your pantry
Daily meals may be different now, especially if you used to eat with your partner. There could be a temptation to skip meals or snack on whatever is in the house instead of preparing a formal meal for one. If you don’t feel like cooking, keep healthy convenience foods on hand so you can put together a nourishing meal in minutes from just a few ingredients:
For breakfast, buy organic skim or soy milk + frozen berries + almond butter
For lunch, buy whole grain pita + pesto + canned wild salmon
For dinner, buy organic ready to eat greens + vacuum sealed steamed lentils + slivered almonds
2. Share meals with friends
To re-launch your social life, and your diet, make lunch and dinner dates, especially at Japanese, Mediterranean and other healthy ethnic restaurants. Consider starting a cooking or wine club or enrolling in a cooking class. You can even throw dinner or potluck parties for friends who are healthy eaters.
3. If you want individualized nutrition advice, tailored to your specific needs (likes, dislikes, activity level, allergies or food intolerances, preferred meal frequency, etc.), it’s worth consulting a registered dietitian/nutritionist. Go to eatright.org to find one near you.