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Why Marriage Makes You Fat (and What You Can Do About It)

You vowed to love each other for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. But no one said anything about packing on the pounds together. Here's how to stop married life from going straight to your hips.
The Couple Problem

You've heard that husbands and wives begin to look alike, but the real resemblance may be the bellies both spouses start to develop. Putting on weight is a common problem for couples. According to a recent study in the American Journal of Human Biology, married people are more likely to be overweight than single people -- and the older they get, the more weight they gain. But why do the postnuptial years plump you up, and what can you do to defy the odds? Read on for the expert lowdown and slimming strategies.

DIET DILEMMA: You share everything.

Being equal partners in life may be a beautiful thing but not when you eat the same heaping helpings as your hubby. Men have more muscle mass than women (even if they weigh the same amount), and can therefore consume more calories without gaining weight. "The extra muscle helps men burn more energy, even at rest," explains Cynthia Sass, RD, coauthor of Your Diet Is Driving Me Crazy: When Food Conflicts Get in the Way of Your Love Life (Marlowe & Company). While a moderately active, 180-pound male can eat about 3,050 calories a day and not gain weight, his moderately active 145-pound wife can consume only about 2,235.

SLIMMING SOLUTION: Keep your eyes on the size.

Use a few tricks to trim calories from dinner: Make up your plate yourself so he doesn't give you a supersize helping, and do it in the kitchen rather than from serving dishes at the table. This way you won't be tempted to graze once you've finished. To make your plate look just as full as your hubby's for a fraction of the calories, double up on low-cal foods (like steamed veggies) and take half as much in carbs (such as potatoes, rice, and pasta).