I guess I should have known that there was going to be trouble from that first time we met. It was across a table at a group dinner when I met the man who would become my husband. And when we eventually went on our first date, it was at another table, at another dinner. This scene would be repeated throughout our courtship - a wonderful meal, a bottle of wine, and delightful conversations. With each new food discovery we made ever more interesting personal discoveries. We traveled the globe, with stops in India, the Middle East, Africa, China, Thailand, and France, all on a dinner plate, and we fell in love. It was intoxicating, fulfilling, and filling, very filling!
We celebrated our engagement in New Orleans, a city known as much for its food as its sensuality. There were doughy, hot beignets in the morning, muffalottas in the afternoon, and andouille-filled nights. We let the good times roll, and by trip's end, well, lets just say that my waistline was beginning the rapid transition from buttons to elastic!
Fast forward 10 years later and our love and our waistlines have continued to grow, and so have the numbers of other couples who share in our same dilemma. When your "plus one" becomes a "plus 20, 30, 40", you start to look for the root of the problem.
Before I met my husband, I was living and working in the city, going to the gym most mornings, and walking the 3-mile round trip to my office before heading out to after-work gallery openings. And pre-We, my hubby was traveling across the country and around the world and in the best shape of his life. So what happened???
Well, let me disclose the sometimes ugly truth of coupling: food becomes your activity.
When the two become one, the difficult dance of merging two people with two sets of friends and two sets of interests can become overwhelming. If she likes to salsa dance at a sweaty club on a Friday night, but he likes to spend Friday nights playing basketball with his friends, as their relationship with each other deepens, the compromises start - maybe he doesn't need to shoot hoops every Friday night, and maybe she doesn't have to salsa dance at some stuck-up club on a Friday night in order to get her weekly thrill. And food soon becomes the neutral zone, a space that's not his or hers, but theirs - you know, like Pottery Barn furniture in a hetero couple's home!
If you're in a romantic relationship try this exercise: For one week, keep an activity log, include activities, like going to the gym, dinner and a movie, or visiting a museum. Include details about all of your meals as well as if you did the activity with or without your significant other. Feeling adventurous? Keep your activity log for 4 weeks. You'll see some interesting trends. I tried this and was dismayed to learn how many of our activities involved food.
De-coupling food from the couple equation is hard to do, and my husband and I are working hard. Some days are wonderful low-calorie/high activity days. And some days, well, not so good, but we're trying and enjoying this new journey. I hit the road with him and he walks the museums with me and food, well, it's just that stuff we grab before heading to the next adventure. I'm just saying:)