Why Your Diet May be Hurting Your Relationship

Rick was biting his fingernails while waiting in the long Starbucks cue. Once he was finally seated and nearly finished his double espresso vanilla latte, licking the cruller icing off his fingers and gazing out the window that he could again wonder: what's wrong with my marriage?

Rather than seeking a traditional couples counselor, he may want to consider the empty cup and wrapper sitting on the table in front of him.

Rick's answer to many of his troubles may lie in the hefty dose of caffeine and sugar-coated lard he just consumed. What are the consequences of starting his day with nearly 1000 empty sugar-laden, diabetes-generating, inflammatory calories?

You may be thinking, "What could Rick's diet possibly have to do with his love relationship?" And before you start having thoughts about body image and metabolism, understand this has nothing to do with body size or looks and everything to do with emotional states, compassion, and overall healthy functioning.

First of all, Rick has just significantly spiked his insulin and robbed his body of the chance to receive the nutrition and energy it needs. As he rushes through his day, he misses lunch and then, feeling incredibly hungry, he picks up a drive-thru bundle of cholesterol, carbs, saturated fat, and preservatives. By the time he returns home to his wife Melinda, he's crashed from his sugar-high, his mood is low, and he feels irritable and unhappy. This is the time when he most needs to "show up" for Melinda with compassion, reason, and steady emotions.

Couples usually develop similar diet habits — they eat together most days after all. If Melida and Rick are eating unhealthy foods on a regular basis, this is going to impact both of them on a physical, emotional, and cognitive level. And unfortunately, they may blame each other in the absence of an understanding of what is happening in their bodies and brains.

We know that blood sugar affects our emotions. Consistent ups and downs in blood sugar can cause depression and low quality of life.  Even without a diagnosis of diabetes, we need to feed our bodies healthy foods and be mindful of how sugar and other unhealthy foods can impact how we feel and how we interact with those closest to us.

How can they rescue their relationship?

Happy couple sitting outsideRick and Melinda need to first strategize and then implement a lifestyle change — together. First of all, I recommend skipping late-night TV shows and going to bed earlier for more good quality sleep. The newest science is telling us that sub-optimal sleep patterns make us more prone to obesity, unhappiness, illness, Alzheimer's, cancer, the ability to learn and remember things, and even early death. Making sleep a priority is essential to reducing your risk of all sorts of maladies including depression, all of which impact the quality of your relationship.

Next, Rick and Melinda need to create a new, pleasurable start to their day. I suggest they wake up early together and have a healthy breakfast. Egg whites, whole grains, and fruit. If the weather permits, they should eat outside in the garden so they can enjoy listening to the birds and the beauty that surrounds them. By no means does this mean they have to speak, they just need to enjoy each other in a pleasant atmosphere. With each pleasurable moment, they can begin to become more comfortable in each other's presence again.

As they continue this new habit, Rick and Melinda will slowly boost their immune systems, experience better moods, and notice the sunshine. If they do this every day for a week, perhaps adding endorphin-releasing music or light comedy while relaxing and feeding their body patience-generating nutrients, they can gradually begin to reroute the neurotransmitter pathways in the brain, and silently, gingerly, begin to reconnect.

Have you ever reconnected with your spouse over a meal?

Cheers – to less talk and more love!

Phil DeLuca is a licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) MSW practicing in Cornelius, North Carolina. If you would like to learn more, visit his website here.


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