Caught in a bad romance

A new study has found destructive relationships can expand your waistline…

As if the strain of having a relationship in free fall isn’t stressful enough, new research says that a bad romance will mean there’s a good chance you’ll be battling to fit into your favourite jeans too. Published in the American Journal of Public Health, a recent study found a link between relationship rough patches and weight gain, with those already on the heavier end most at risk.

Using the famous White II research, which studied 10,000 employees of the UK public system over 11 years, scientists found unhappy lovers who put on a few kgs during tough times with their BF, were more likely to develop obesity-related diseases too.

Before you put their love-chub down to well-established bad eating habits, at the beginning of the study most of the subjects were fairly healthy: half had never smoked, they had an average of three hours of moderate exercise a week, and over 50 percent ate fruits and veggies every day. So it was the horrible relationship that triggered them to develop crappy habits like, bingeing on Ben and Jerry’s, giving up their morning run to hide under their doona, or skipping cooking for takeout.

Clinical psychologist Meredith Fuller agrees that rocky relationships can lead to comfort eating: “We might be hungry for something that we can’t ask for [from our partner], so we fill ourselves with food rather than what we really want, which is love.”

Plus, when you’re feeling super sad and worn out from fighting, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go for a run, when you’d rather stuff yourself with 45 blocks of chocolate to drown your sorrows. That’s why research shows unhappily married people are more likely to go for high-carb high-fat food options to numb their stress.

“Sometimes it’s also about punishing the other person by trying to make yourself less attractive, or you might feel you need a protective layer of fat so they can’t hurt you,” says Fuller.