They say love is blind, and that may be true—especially when it comes to an expanding waistline. In a new British survey, 62 percent of women polled said they accidentally gained up to 15 pounds after coupling up. Nearly 75 percent also thought their other half had packed on weight, too. Whether eating out, grabbing drinks, or swapping gym time for movie nights is to blame, one thing is certain: Following a few healthy-dating tricks can help keep the weight off and you happy-in-love. Here, experts explain how.
Don’t forget your BFFs. It’s easy to lose track of friends when you’re spending a lot of time with a new flame—especially the ones who kept you healthy. New York City-based trainer Larysa DiDio suggests catching up while at the gym, instead of at a coffee joint. And try to plan workouts for the morning. “The longer during the day that you put it off, the less you’ll be apt to do it,” she says.
Keep your dates moving. Dinner and a movie can be a snooze anyway. “Schedule your dates around active things,” DiDio says. “Go bowling, take hikes, go on a bike tour.” You’re less likely to snack and more likely to burn calories.
Rev up your cardio pre-date. Don’t panic if you know your dinner will be a calorie splurge—just follow the plus-fifteen rule. “If you know that you’ll be going out for a long, romantic five-course dinner, be extra careful during the day with your meals and exercise for an extra 15 minutes on cardio,” DiDio suggests. This will help you burn a few extra calories beforehand.
Don’t guzzle alcohol. Date-night cocktails and a few beers at the ball game can pack hundreds of empty calories. If you’re drinking beer or wine, stick to one serving at a time, rotating with water between drinks. Twelve ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine both run around 100 calories per serving, which is more forgiving than cocktails. However, if you do want a mixed drink, NYC-based RD Jaclyn London suggests keeping it clear. “Mixing 1.5 ounces of a spirit—gin, vodka, tequila, rum—with any kind of calorie-free soda, like flavored seltzer or club soda, is always a safe choice,” she says. “Add a splash of fresh lime juice or dash of grenadine for some extra sweetness.”
Eat leaner restaurant meals. Early in a relationship, you may start to treat yourself more often since you’re eating out frequently, opting for a bowl of pasta and pre-dinner bread instead of a grilled-chicken salad. It can also be a slippery slope if you start choosing things you may not ordinarily choose for yourself, says London. Ordering lean-protein and veggie-based meals whenever possible. “Choose shrimp, scallops, and fish with sautéed or grilled veggies or a salad,” she says. “Skip anything breaded, fried, or dough-wrapped (like egg rolls, dumplings, and pastry-wrapped items), and opt to taste or split more decadent items like cheese- and cream-based dishes and high-fat meats such as chorizo, prosciutto, or salami.”
Indulge without the bulge. While you should always think of healthy foods first, you don’t have to avoid the occasional sexy sweet. A piece of chocolate—which is around 155 calories per ounce—or a chocolate-covered strawberry—just 60 guilt-free calories—is a lighter way to enjoy an end-of-meal treat, says London.
Cook at home—together. Bond and save calories by whipping up healthy food together at home. “This adds an element of control to what you’re serving since you get to choose together what’s on the menu direct the food prep,” says London. Look for recipes with less butter, oil, and belly-bloating sodium and more whole grains, fresh veggies, herbs, and spices.
Snack smart. Just because your significant other likes Doritos, doesn’t mean you have to start dipping your hand in the bag. Opt for better snacks when you’re lounging around at home. “A good one is a piece of fruit or a serving of whole-grain crackers with a tablespoon of nut butter or a quarter cup of unsalted nuts,” London says. “Cut-up veggies with hummus and salsa or a half of grilled-cheese sandwich on whole wheat-bread will also do the trick—bonus points for adding tomatoes and sweet bell peppers.” Just be wary of dips, says London. Salsa is a great, low-cal option, but high-fat dips and spreads add up. Two tablespoons of guacamole, for instance, run around 50 to 60 calories, which you could likely scoop up on one chip.