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The Do's and Don'ts of Wedding Weight Loss

How to lose weight before the big day -- and avoid 'heavier ever after'

Heavier Ever After?

Once a couple says their "I do's," they may be at risk for a honeymoon holdover effect. Research shows that newlyweds gain weight at a faster rate then their single peers.

"Married people are heavier than people who have never been married," says researcher Jeffery Sobal, PhD, associate professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University. "They are also somewhat heavier than people who have been previously married, divorced, separated, and widowed.

"Recently married people eat about half or more of their meals together," he says. "So marriage really is a huge influence on what you eat, its caloric value, nutrient composition, and all of those things."

What seems to happen, Sobal says, is that newlyweds eat more regularly, and more formally, than they did in their single days.

"The fact that you have dinner together is seen as one of the wonderful thing about marriage. You've got an eating partner," Sobal tells WebMD. "Those meals are usually more formal and consist of multiple courses."

Sobal says his research has shown that when you control for other variables, like age and having children, the "marriage effect" seems to go away to some extent in women while it persists in men.

"It suggests that there is something about being married that makes men slightly, but not hugely, heavier," says Sobal. He says more long-term studies will be needed to determine the exact nature of this marriage effect on weight.

Say "I Don't" to Post-Wedding Weight Gain

"You're never as thin as when you get married because it's all leading up to the big day," says newlywed Bonnie Lee of Mamaroneck, N.Y.

But in the two years since they exchanged vows, Lee says, she and her husband, Wayne, have managed to maintain a healthy lifestyle, despite constant temptation from the homework she did while studying at the French Culinary Institute in New York. Lee recently completed the culinary arts program at the cooking school and says her training has helped, rather than hindered, their efforts to maintain trim, post-wedding waistlines.

"One of things that we love about our marriage is that we both cook together," says Lee. In their single days, she and her husband used to eat out a lot more, grabbing a pizza or burger here or there.

"One thing I've learned about restaurants after working in them is that they don't measure the amount of oil they use," says Lee. "The food is saturated in oil, and you don't even know it."

Instead of eating out and risking fat overload, she puts together quick, easy meals that incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables, like stir-fries and salads.

"Cooking doesn't require a lot of time once you learn to cook efficiently," Lee tells WebMD. "The best and most inexpensive ingredients are usually those that are freshest and are in season." Mercer agrees, and adds that her own husband lost 20 pounds after they got married more than two decades ago and never gained it back. But even if you're not married to a registered dietitian, having a spousal support system can make it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle.

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