Going Solo

Sting and the Police Do you think it’s easier to stick with healthy eating when you’re on your own, or with a partner?

(or sibling, housemate, etc)

I have pondered this one many times, especially since shacking up with the Scotsman. There are advantages and disadvantages with both…

Group Effort
Pros

  • Somebody to share the cooking and cleaning
    I tend to do most of the cooking and Dr G does the cleaning up. It works for us – he chops vegetables too slowly for my liking; I leave too many "bits" on the dishes for his liking.
  • Not wanting to look like a greedy lard arse
    Gareth doesn’t pass judgement on what I eat, but I still feel less inclined to scarf down a third chocolate biscuit if there’s other people around.

Cons

  • Persuasion
    Despite my diligent menu planning, if either of us is tired or grumpy it can take very little cajoling to ditch the Plan and have cheese on toast or a takeaway.
  • I’ll have what he’s having
    Gareth likes a quiet beer and a bag of crisps some evenings, and even though I’m not a beer and crisp person, I feel compelled to eat something just because he is. So there.
  • Man Portions
    I still struggle with a childish sense of, "But but but! His slice of cake is bigger than MINE!" My body simply does not need as much food as Gareth’s, but I still resent the fact and find it difficult not to dish up the same portions for myself.
Wham

Solo Efforts

Pros

  • Simplicity
    I eat very simply when I’m on my own. Poached egg on toast. Fish or veggie burger with salad. I’ll make a pot of soup and eat it four nights in a row. Mostly because I’m too lazy to make a mess of the kitchen! But also when Dr G is in the house I feel like I should make the meal more exciting and less snacky, despite him being a lot less bothered about what we eat for dinner than I am.
  • Easy routines
    Gareth has been working away for a few days and as usual I’ve slipped into healthy little robot mode – packing my lunch the night before, organising my breakfast, cooking dinners for later in the week, doing all my planned exercise. When he’s here, I can easily use him as an excuse. I often go looking for distractions – yapping away when I get home from work, asking him does he want a cuppa instead of doing my weights DVD… next thing it’s 8PM and we can’t be arsed cooking dinner.

Cons

  • No witnesses
    There are times when I still wrestle with the old "Quick! Eat while noone’s looking" mentality. As I said earlier, Gareth doesn’t give a rats’ what I eat, but there is something about being home alone that makes me look at the Hillwalking Snickers bars in the fridge that I can normally ignore and the wheels start turning… How many were there the other day? Would he notice if I ate one? Would I have time to replace it?!
Genesis_3

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53 thoughts on “Going Solo

  1. Hi DG

    Oh the conundrum! Flying solo or having a partner in crime?!

    Tonight my husband was delayed, he’d had a very bad day (so had I) and this is the text I got, and I quote:

    “Train delayed. Please could you put on the oven for me. I fancy chips.”

    And that would go with the beer in the freezer that was waiting to be opened for the footie!

    Hmmmmm. Of course, I HAD to help him out! Aaaggghhh!!!!

    Big kiss.

    Mrs Lxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Ohhh I KEN, Mrs!!!

    It’s good of you to put on the oven; there is nothing worse than getting home and having to wait for the preheat! 😉

    Dr G arrived home during the penalty shootout and I said, “Want some dinner? Cuppa tea?” and thought, Oooh I quite fancy a piece of toast. But I didn’t, having just posted this here entry 😛

  3. hi shauna, i am glad i am not the only one who experiences these things when you’re trying to be ‘good’ and living with someone who doesn’t really need to watch what they eat. i really hate that about myself… that these things change how i treat my body. bah!when my boy and i took a break a few years ago, i dropped 7kg in an instant, albeit i headed to the gym everyday and didn’t have to deal with takeaways and man portions. bah again! ;P

  4. It is MUCH easier for me to keep myself in line when i’m by myself, because I don’t buy things not on the grocery list and thus, they never make it into my house.

    I can’t eat what’s not there.

    My girlfriend, on the other hand, insists on having desert a couple times a week and I have 0 willpower.

  5. I could easily have written this post! I was laughing my head off at the part about how you leave bits on the dishes. My husband freaks OUT when I do that. So mostly, I cook and he cleans.

    I am also quite upset about the basic unfairness of the man-portions. My coping mechanism is to make 4 portions of my meals — 1 for me, 2 for him, 1 for my lunch the next day. That way, I still get the same amount — it’s just spread out! I have to put the lunch portion away immediately, though, or the whole plan is shot.

    I’ve also had a bout with the “no witnesses” problem this week. I get home first and just went to town on some pita chips in his absence the last two nights. They are now banned from the residence.

  6. Hi Shauna,

    Well as a longtime singleton I’ve always thought that my single state (eating on my own, pigging out whenever I wanted, no one aware of how much I was eating) was a large part in my downfall.

    But reading your post I now realise there is the other side to the coin as well. Hmmmmmm ….

    P.S. In my letterbox tonight was your book which has just arrived from Amazon — hoorah! I will have a lot of weekend reading to help inspire me on my way !!!

  7. You forgot the other con of group efforts – buying healthy food, and having other people eat it and throw it out! What’s THAT about?!

  8. I really have a secret eater mentality…so I imagine, only imagine mind, that were I by myself that I would eventually get out of that and revert to consistently regular, normal eating, rather than harbour the intense desire to eat scantily while in company, and gorge myself in private.

  9. You are so right!

    I just drafted a post about love and fat.

    I noticed when B is away I eat little healthy meals and regularly get my workouts in but when he is home I’ll cook larger meals, sneak food and use him as an excuse to skip my workouts.

    It is so unfair how easy it is for guys. I’d hate him if I didn’t love him.

  10. “How many were there the other day? Would he notice if I ate one? Would I have time to replace it?!”

    Yes, absolutely. I can completely relate to that statement, and while I’ve pretty much reached a decent relationship with food, it’s always there lurking in the back of my mind.

  11. I tried this experiment last summer when I had to live away from my husband for for a month (well on weekdays anyway). I wasn’t intending to lose weight but two and half kilos just drifted away. I’m sure it was largely down to not seeing my OH eating every five minutes – he was in training for a triathlon and just ate incessantly.

    Plus I was working with a bunch of dietitians, who ate cake surprisingly regularly but only very small pieces

  12. Skinny hungry men and their metabolisms are a scourge! Heehee. Aaah, bless.

    It drifts 50/50 with TB, sometimes I’ll eat more because I’m around him (in the early years of our relationship, definitely), but then he does often encourage more sensible food choices. The best thing to have ever happened (well, in terms of rampant man-size servings x 2) was his metabolism slowed right down and he started gaining a bit of weight. This meant all pizza menus were out the window. Four years ago we’d order pizza once or twice a week, now we’ve done ordered it twice in 12 months.

    But, yes, every time he goes away for work, I eat cereal/toast/silly snack food most nights. Without him I’d probably have scurvy.

  13. Loved Dr. G’s video. But that hill was covered with big, slidy-looking rocks that could definitely kill you. I can see why you’re cautious.

    I tend to panic that my husband (skinny, hungry, grrrr) is watching what I eat and secretly saying, “no wonder…” even when he doesn’t say (and swears he isn’t thinking) anything. Of course I then have to prove that no one’s going to boss me around. Sigh.

  14. lol good to know it’s not an isolated situation! I’m the same way, except have aaaalways found it easier on my own. I don’t buy that stuff and funnily enough, even when I was hamstering food as a young girl/teen, I always sent my little sister to the shop to buy my stuff. Basically if i were alone, i’d never eat it because it would never get purchased. Of course when i DID live alone, I ate all my meals at the theatre to save for rent money, there i scoffed everything and the kitchen sink. I have less issues about looking like a stuffed pork roll in public. No shame, no guilt… what the hell is that about?? Did i miss that when it was getting handed out at the maternity ward to everyone else??

  15. You nailed all the pros and cons precisely.

    I reeeeally hate it when my husband goes interstate on business – not because I miss him (although I do) but because I’m more likely to eat any old crap without him around. Like Dr G, he couldn’t give a rat’s what I eat, but I have this mental brake on when he’s around. Weird.

  16. I have to say I view this as one of the few areas in life where being single can be an advantage. I’ve never had much luck eating what I want when there’s a man involved that might want differently. And I so relate to the “if I re-stock it no one will know” thinking, too.

    So this brain stuff doesn’t get easier over time? Damn.

  17. I have to say I view this as one of the few areas in life where being single can be an advantage. I’ve never had much luck eating what I want when there’s a man involved that might want differently. And I so relate to the “if I re-stock it no one will know” thinking, too.

    So this brain stuff doesn’t get easier over time? Damn.

  18. Ah, the agony of Single eating Vs Couple eating!!!

    My husband was away for 10 weeks and I ate the same thing for dinner EVERY NIGHT the whole time he was away (Fish with steamed veggies) and had salad at work every day for lunch.

    I don’t mind eating the same thing every day as long as I enjoy it – he says he’s not bothered and will eat anything, but I plan a different meal for every night of the week because if he asks what’s for dinner and i mention something remotely like what we ate the night before he gets this look on his face that says “Bloody hell, not again!” but what he’ll actually say is “Whatever”.

    He moans when I buy snacks that we’re snacking too much.

    He moans when there’s nothing in the house to snack on.

    I give up!

  19. Are you in my head? Every single pro/con you listed is exactly what I think about this whole process. My husband is out of town for the next several days and it’s so much simpler when he’s gone, and yet more difficult at the same time!

  20. Excellent topic. I’m married, live in Seattle with a very, very nice husband who CAN eat just one cookie or potato chip, then re-seal the bag, stick it in the pantry, and forget about it for six months. Whereas if I have one bite I have to finish the whole bag, trans fats be damned.

    He also likes a nice bottle of wine with dinner. He never drinks more than 2 glasses of red wine with dinner (for his heart). But it’s not so healthy for me: 2 glasses of wine, and I am ready to eat any and all starchy, sweet, high fat food in the house.

    I try to remember that he’s not responsible for my food choices, but . . . his little indulgences do make it much harder for me to lose weight.

  21. The frustrating part is when the people around you get all freaked out by any efforts to be healthier. But if they don’t have any problems with you doing it, then I find it’s fine to do it solo. But sometimes it can be a really nice change to have someone else there for the support too!

  22. I have exactly the same experience with my husband. Like you, I always feel I should make ‘an effort’ with the meal, when left to my own devices I’d probably just have dips or salad or soup. I start behaving like a 1950s housewife, thinking ‘meat and two veg and a pudding’. It’s just another version of that old conundrum: are we better off with them, or without them??

  23. I have exactly the same experience with my husband. Like you, I always feel I should make ‘an effort’ with the meal, when left to my own devices I’d probably just have dips or salad or soup. I start behaving like a 1950s housewife, thinking ‘meat and two veg and a pudding’. It’s just another version of that old conundrum: are we better off with them, or without them??

  24. I’m actually planning to move out of my apt right now partially due this issue. My roomie is a runner4life and vegetarian. I’m struggling immensely. While I think it IS possible to live with someone and eat/exercise well, one must be careful that the live-in isn’t a negative influnce. Mine tends to be condenscending at times & overbearingly encouraging at others. (Not making this up. It’s taken me a year to figure it out.)

  25. DG, now that I’m seeing the most wonderful man I’ve gained 10 lbs! You nailed a bunch of the reasons, but I have an additional one. I’m just so damned euphoric that I don’t feel like being as restrictive. I’m eating carbs and drinking beer! Plus, I don’t want him to think I’m a totally neurotic diet chick, so I rationalize the need to eat a wee bit more. Then, there is the extra socializing that comes your way when you are part of a couple. What with my carb and portion envy, the euphoric non-restrictive eating, and the fear of looking neurotic, I’m lucky it’s only 10 lbs. Thanks for this post. I am determined to learn to manage my food without destroying the loveliness of this relationship. It can be done! You are doing it!

  26. oh man, these comments are a total nod fest. as in, nodding in agreement!!! it’s nearly midnight so i better scoot to bed but thanks for yer comments everyone 🙂

    and GG – the brain stuff DOES get better, there is hope… 🙂

  27. Interesting – My other half can eat anything he likes. He will come home from a holiday, maybe up a kilo, a couple of days and it’s gone. I can gain 3 plus and takes weeks to lose. Not fair as I do watch what I eat whereas he doesn’t! I’m sure his eating habits are no help for me, we still have a pantry with biscuits, nuts and other tempting goodies. If it was just me I wouldn’t buy them (I think)

  28. I see the pro and cons for sure, however I always do better alone before my hubby just loves junk, its very hard to be eating a salad and grilled chicken while is is eating a pizza and chicken fingers. We manage somehow but he is always tempting me. I wish he could climb on board the health train with me.

  29. Nodding along here with everyone else! I have a wicked skinny husband (wickedly skinny, not actually wicked himself) who could eat for days, or not eat for days, who cares. I rabbit around in my brain thinking up meals and such. So far he kind of gets the idea of what is healthy food versus unhealthy, but he would happily cook us two steaks the size of dinner plates with butterered veggies on the side and not blink an eye. Protein and vegetables, what else did you want, baby? Arghghggh.

    I don’t know if the good Doctor would do this for you, but last week I loved it when I asked my hubs to cook me 2 surprise dinners, as a favor. They had to have clean protein and clean veg, all other bets were off. It went okay! He does care about what I eat, vaguely, as long as we’ll still make fried stuff every now and then.

  30. Sooo much easier to do on my own. I’ve finally had to resort to making my meals separately from the rest of the family, otherwise I eat what they do and well, that’s how I ended up needing to lose 15 lbs in the first place! I will allow myself a bit of whatever they are having if I really want it, but I can’t diet by committee.

  31. i totally think it’s easier to eat healthy/lose weight solo. i’m like you — i’ll make a big pot of soup or a casserole and eat in as lefotvers for days, and be just fine with that. or i’ll have cereal and fruit for dinner if i choose. i’ve noticed that nights my roommate is home, if she’s craving junk i fold much faster and give in than i would if it were just me. if she brings home fatty foods, i’m more apt to eat them, whereas i just don’t bring it into the house. i think it’s even harder if you’re living with a partner/husband/etc., because usually meals are planned together.

  32. With a partner is certainly easier for me. I’m such a social butterfly that I prefer to cook/eat and exercise with someone else. Is a pity I rarely get to do either with someone else.

    Joined up for water aerobics classes last week, just to stop myself going insane with the solo exercising!

  33. With a partner is certainly easier for me. I’m such a social butterfly that I prefer to cook/eat and exercise with someone else. Is a pity I rarely get to do either with someone else.

    Joined up for water aerobics classes last week, just to stop myself going insane with the solo exercising!

  34. I sometimes think it is easier to do it alone, not that I have ever done it really on my own.

    My Husband doesn’t have much weight to lose – maybe 5kgs. Whereas I have around 50-60kgs.

    It is harder because we both cave at different times and manage to drag the other down in the ‘cave in’.

  35. My husband is the diet Gestapo. He likes to keep his own weight down in the lower range of what’s healthy for his height and is a complete, obsessive health nut. He would no more eat a chocolate biscuit or a packet of crisps than he’d be tempted to jump out of our third-floor window and believes in tiny portions of everything, except steamed veggies, which are coming out of our ears. Most of the time this attitude of his works very well and helps me to stay lean too (I’ve been maintaining a weight loss successfully for years, but still need to be vigilant) but sometimes it makes me feel an irresistible urge to be naughty and ‘outwit’ him by rushing out for fried chicken, chips and chocolate cake.

  36. My husband is the diet Gestapo. He likes to keep his own weight down in the lower range of what’s healthy for his height and is a complete, obsessive health nut. He would no more eat a chocolate biscuit or a packet of crisps than he’d be tempted to jump out of our third-floor window and believes in tiny portions of everything, except steamed veggies, which are coming out of our ears. Most of the time this attitude of his works very well and helps me to stay lean too (I’ve been maintaining a weight loss successfully for years, but still need to be vigilant) but sometimes it makes me feel an irresistible urge to be naughty and ‘outwit’ him by rushing out for fried chicken, chips and chocolate cake.

  37. my husband and i usually eat the same thing, but then i don’t allow many things like chips, brownies, cookies, etc. in the house. but he usually eats really big portions, but i’m fine with my minuscule (normal) portion.

    i do have to commend him on running with me. he really pushes me and because he has a longer stride, i tend to run faster!

  38. Eating????? All alone is easier… at least i dun have to face discrimination from other people…. i dun wan people think i’m diet for looking better… i jus wan my self esteem back…

    can i link u in my blog?

  39. For me I find it more helpful and easier when my partner and I diet together. That way he doesn’t bring junk food into the house..

  40. I think being around people at all makes losing weight much more difficult. I wish I could just become a hermit for a year (somewhere without a shop anywhere nearby) and a veggie patch to sustain myself. Then I would just come back a year later with my head sorted out, my fitness levels fantastic and my weight exactly where I want it. Best to stop day-dreaming now I think 🙂

  41. oh i know exactly what you mean.
    wih my partner it is all to easy to eat the same – and that means chips, pizza and chinese. i need to cajole and plead in order to create something healthy. all the same, there is a side of me that loves that. often i don’t want to cook. often i want msg, fat and crunchy chippy goodness.

    and then there are days like today, when i found i have lost a good pound after listening to my body for a whole two days and i feel great. i know i will still want chips and pizza, but i need to listen to myself: still ‘fly solo’ but with my partner.
    i think.
    i hope that makes sense!

  42. I totally agree with you on the whole eating when you’re alone thing. My BF doesn’t care what I eat… in fact, sometimes he says he wishes I’d eat more! What he doesn’t realize is how much I eat when I’m alone… sounds a lot like your Snickers story.

    Great blog here, btw. I love your voice and your stories. Keep up the good work!

  43. ha ha ha at the moment I really couldn’t compare, having not been in a relationship proper (longer than 3 months) for years!

    But I do remember with my first boyfriend I had a real problem with eating too much because of his presence: I was queasy for months because he always dished up two equal portions without thinking and then had been brought up to finish everything on his plate so made me feel as though I had to, too.

    When I figured it out though, I had no trouble persuading him to give me smaller meals / finish mine / let me chuck loads away, as soon as I made it clear that it was severely damaging my libido, feeling ill every evening!

    Unfortunately my problem since then is not eating too much at a time but snacking too much, and being single makes it very easy to indulge…

  44. ps

    Aware you weren’t just talking about relationships … my only other arrangement (since I’ve always cooked for myself in house shares) that’s affected my eating is living at home, and there I always wonder. Meals are always home cooked and therefore healthy, and I don’t shop so therefore don’t stash up on goodies, but Mum does keep a very well stocked larder and there is plenty of cream for puddings…

  45. Still have not quite trained my OH out of serving up Man Portions… I can (just about) dish up less for myself, but he doesn’t think to.

    He doesn’t much care for takeaways, which I’m sure has an influence on me – although I’m not sure it’s always a good one! Sometimes it might be better to just order the Chinese meal or whatever and do better tomorrow.

  46. I’ve found it’s a lot easier for me to stick to a weight loss program now that I’m married. When I was single, I would come home from work and eat whatever was at hand – and I usually kept a lot of really “good” stuff at hand (and by “good” I mean “bad” – multiple boxes of macaroni & cheese, bags of Doritos, gallons of ice cream, etc.). And I’d eat it all in front of the TV. Now that I’m married I can’t do that anymore, and feel a lot more confident about losing & maintaining at least a small amount of weight.

  47. Hi Shauna,

    I am so much better at weight loss/maintenance when I am flying solo, but given that I have one husband, three kids and a dog, looks like I am just going to have to learn to do with all of them around!

    Cheers

  48. Ha! I totally blame my husband for my weight problem. 1. He’s an excellent cook. 2. He loves good food, so is always cooking it for us. 3. He serves up huge portions. I have very little self-control, so of course I have to eat it! When I was on my own it was baked beans on toast for dinner, popcorn, fruit and vegies etc … instead of gourmet meals every night. But I love him anyway!
    Bye the way, love your blog and your book. I’m going to add you onto my favourites on my blog, if that’s okay.

  49. Hi DG!

    I must say that you are so right. About the whole lard-loss thingie with or without a partner-in-crime. I find that it works best for me when I do it on my own, but I can have my BF slapping me on the fingers when I think about slipping. But at the same time I would ripp his head of if he would put his nose in my “diet”. =P
    Heh, it can’t be easey beeing male sometimes. XD

    Anyway, thank you for an AWSOME blogg! I’ve started writing my own blogg, and you are such a huge inspiration to me. Thanks for everything! =D

    Sincerely yours,
    Lisa from Sweden

  50. I TOTALLY agree with the man sized portions…my boyfriend was worried he may come out worse off when I suggested that we get one portion of fish and chips (as a weekend treat) and I’d just have a couple out of it. Have just started trying to shed an excess 2 stone (again!) but am determined this time. Can identify with a lot of stuff on this site!