Dieting is a miserable practice that can easily leave anyone irritable, unhappy, and hungry, so it makes sense to think that dieting with a partner will make it easier and more enjoyable. Well, you might want to hold off on the buddy system for now; a new study found that dieting with a partner doesn’t work.
The study, published in Eating Behaviors, surveyed 50 overweight couples that had made New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. The survey asked questions about how much confidence the participants had in controlling their food portions when they were alone and when they were eating with company. Participants were asked if they agreed with statements like “When eating out with friends, they influence how much I eat” and “I feel confident that I can leave food on my plate if I think a serving size is too large.”
Overall, the study found that when couples diet together, only one person is successful. The main reason for this is because as one partner is accomplishing their goal, the other loses confidence in their own efforts. It seems counter-intuitive, because partners are supposed to be support systems for one another, but it turns out that being close to someone who is successful in a similar goal undermines the other’s confidence. It also appears as if women have a disadvantage in couple’s dieting form the get-go; the women who participated in the study reported being less confident then men in their ability to control portions.
It’s easy to scoff at the outcomes of this study, especially for those who view dieting as an exercise in vanity. However, this information is useful for those who are dieting in order have a healthier lifestyle. And it’s not easy! As author of the study Jennifer Jill Harman points out, portion sizes have increased 700 percent over the last 30 years, so understanding portion control and eating healthier is more important than ever. So for those of you who are serious about losing weight, do yourself a favor and don’t ask the significant other to join in your diet…you’ll be more successful on your own.