Published on February 27, 2017 | by Carmen Wong     Photography by


How love handles tell people about true love

The best way to tell if a couple is happily in love could be by looking at their waistlines. From a dietician to nutritionist and weight loss coach to researcher, there’s a consensus that love often leads to weight gain.

According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, if a couple is satisfied with their relationship, they tend to gain weight.

The Maryland-based center’s website says it advances science and health by providing access to biomedical information. Researchers of a study followed 196 couples over the course of four years. The couples were weighed twice a year and provided details about their overall satisfaction of their relationship.

Andrea Meltzer, a psychology professor at Florida State University and a lead researcher of the study says the happier the relationship, the larger the love handles.

“People who commit to long-term satisfied relationships are more likely to gain weight,” says Meltzer.

Meltzer says on the other hand, dissatisfied partners are less likely to gain weight because they may be more aware of their appearance in order to attract a new mate in the future.

According to a separate study conducted by the Obesity Society, also in Maryland, women who were dating gained an average of 7kg, 15lbs over five years, those who were living with a romantic partner gained 8kg, 18lbs and the newly married packed on 11kg, 24lbs.

Cassandra Reid, a Toronto-based dietician in private practice for 15 years says couples that are in the early days of a fulfilling relationship often feed those joyous feelings with food, similar to how those who are sad might seek food as comfort.

“Couples tend to eat out more for social or celebratory reasons and the food choices become more decadent, so it’s not unusual to see the weight gain,” says Reid.

According to a study conducted by the University of Toronto, researchers say that the average meal at a sit-down restaurant contains 1,128 calories, which accounts for half of an individual’s daily caloric intake. And that’s not counting appetizers or desserts.

Lucinda Watkins, a weight loss coach in Alberta says on average, a woman needs to eat about 2000 calories per day and a man needs to eat about 2500 calories per day to maintain their weight.

“For women gaining weight in a relationship with a man, portion size is the biggest culprit,” says Watkins.

Watkins says women regularly feel the need to match the amounts that their partners eat but don’t need as many calories.

Stefanie Senior, a Toronto dietitian and nutritionist says romantic relationships can alter the dynamic around food, with dates, special occasions and quiet nights in, which often revolve around meals.

Senior says new love is time consuming, so people tend to skimp gym time and trade that for more cuddle time.

“People in stable relationships no longer feel the pressure to look good to attract a partner, so couples tend to let themselves go a bit, often subconsciously,” says Senior.

Jennifer Nguyen, a Humber fitness and health promotion student fell in love and fell out of shape.

“When you’re single, dinner can be a bowl of Kraft Dinner and then you meet someone and eating out basically becomes a hobby,” says Nguyen.

Nguyen says somewhere between the wine and dine, it hit her that she was 15 pounds heavier.

“I think it’s easy to get swept away in all the lovey-dovey and forget to put your health first,” says Nguyen.

Reid says she suggests understanding personal hunger cues and not eating, just to eat.

“Be mindful about what you eat because how much more enjoyable will the moments be with the person you love, if you feel good about taking care of yourself for the long haul,” says Reid.

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