Extreme Dieters: Partners Who Say 'Lose Weight'

Big surprise.  Women who are frequently encouraged by their significant others to lose weight are more likely to resort to unhealthy measures, such as fasting and diet pills, according to a new study by the Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, reported at newswise.com.

Almost half of the participants said their significant other encouraged them to diet.

Unhealthy weight control behaviors -- fasting, using diet pills, and self-induced vomiting -- and some of the more extreme ways young adults try to control their weight, are often the beginning of more severe eating disorders, depression and other health problems, the study found.

I'm a big fan of the shows on addiction and intervention, and I can't count on one hand the number of episodes that show young women -- even pregnant women -- hovering over the toilet as all the food they've eaten -- or binged on -- pours out.  

I'm fortunate.  My husband could care less what I weigh (although his mother certainly does!).  Since he's 6' and I'm barely 5'2, I always look small next to him anyway!  But he did influence me in one way -- to eat healthier foods.  Before I met him, I dabbled in vegetables, and occasionally, fruits.  But I loved, loved, loved fried chicken and would usually eat it once a week until I got tired of hearing him complain about it.  It had nothing to do with the calories or fat -- he just knew that fried foods were really bad for you.

I haven't had fried chicken in probably 20 years.  Can't say I really miss it.

But I know men who want to keep their wives in size 2's, and I feel so sorry for these women.  (I don't think I was a size 2 even when I was born.)  We live in an affluent area where some women look like they eat one meal a month and all the clothes displayed in shops look like they'd fit, well, dolls.

And back to binge eating.  This nearly doubled among women in the study "if their significant other encouraged dieting 'very much' (25.5 percent) compared to 'not at all' (13.6 percent)," newswise.com noted.

Ominously, more than 40 percent of the people surveyed had used extreme diet tactics in the past year, according to the study.  The survey was taken in Minnesota, where I lived in my 20s, and I remember that state's residents as solid and blonde.  This was the last place I'd expect so many young women to be so obsessed with their weight.

But in Fairfield County, where I live, it's rampant, and I guess it just shows it goes on all over the country. How did we get so obsessed with weight?  When I was growing up, there was "Twiggy" (whose big eyes probably were 90% of her weight), but most people back then saw her more as a sideshow than a model of how to be.  Today you can't go anywhere without thinking about weight (me, at least).  Even the models who are photo-shopped are still as skinny as pencils, un-airbrushed.

It all comes down to liking yourself, no matter your shape or size.  I still have 10 pounds to go before I'll be the weight I want to be, but I've given up hating myself that I no longer fit in my size 10 jeans.  It certainly doesn't help when your partner's berating you, too.  We do enough of it to ourselves.


  1. I lost 40 lbs last year. My wife said I now have "a body like a chick." She has trouble losing any weight. I can lose 2 to 3 pounds a week. No problem. I use the tried and true method of exercising and eating less. I'm tempted by every aisle in the grocery store to buy junk. And I do buy some. But there comes a time when I say to self, you're fat. And then I eat less, or healthier. For me, cutting out the breads, cakes, pasta, and switching to light beer works well. And then I jog 16 miles a weeks, and walk another 14 miles. So I do 30 overall. That's the secret of good health. My cardiologist says I have "a good physique" and has "no recommendations." There definitely is an obsession with weight and body image in this country, but who of us really has the will power or desire to do something about if. Self-indulgence and complaining (with your mouth and belly stuffed) is so much more fun.


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