When Your Date Overeats

What to do when your sweetie really overdoes it at restaurants.

By Matt Coppa

ou’re dating someone who seems like the perfect mate. The conversation flows, you two both love action-adventure flicks and rowing on warm spring days. But there’s a problem: Every time you go out for a nice dinner, your special someone gorges on the basket of sourdough rolls (with lots of butter), a big old bowl of fettuccine alfredo and can’t resist the flourless chocolate cake for dessert—only to moan about it the next day. You’re a health-conscious type of person and just can’t watch this scene anymore, but how to bring it up—“Honey, are
That way your honey won’t feel singled out and attacked.
you sure you really want the cheesecake tonight?” or “Do you know that pasta has about 1000 calories?” You know the only way to preserve their waist—and your sanity—is to speak up, but how can you do it without a bucket of fried chicken in your face?

We asked Lynn Harris, relationship expert and author of Breakup Girl to the Rescue, on the best way to nudge your partner into positive choices without looking like a jerk. Some tips to follow:

Plan a preemptive strike
Don’t wait till you’re out to dinner with your sweetie having a plate of fatty food. Suggest a healthier establishment without revealing your motives. As Harris explains, “Just replace ‘Let’s go somewhere less greasy,’ with ‘How about Japanese food tonight?” Other good options: A fish house or a place known for terrific salads.

Don’t preach
Never, under any circumstances, make a remark about A) your date’s weight and B) what they’re ordering. That could easily cause a confrontation or trigger a “You’re not the boss of me” reaction, leading them to order the fattiest meal on the menu out of spite. “Also stay away from disapproving glances or comments,” says Harris. “If your date is worried that you’re making judgments, there’s no way they’re going to have a good time.”

Set an example
This is tricky because if you make a big deal about how healthy your order is, it may
Go ahead, but know you may be risking the relationship.
seem transparently passive-aggressive, like you’re daring your partner to be healthy. “But if you simply order a salad minus any comments, suddenly the deep-fried calamari may seem less attractive, and some grilled chicken will appear a lot more tempting,” says Harris. Go ahead and offer your date tastes of your food, and try saying, “Don’t the berries look great? Want to share some for dessert?”

Wait for them to bring it up
The next time your date complains about being overweight or having overindulged, ask what he or she wants to do about it. “Say something like, ‘Is there anything that we can do about that?’” says Harris. “Feed back to her what she’s saying. And always ask what we can do about it, because then you’re working together as a team. Try things like ‘We can go to the gym more often’ or ‘We can go hiking or walk your dog.’ That way your honey won’t feel singled out and attacked.” It’s a more positive approach to the problem and takes the burden off of you.

Put your cards on the table
If none of the above, more subtle tactics work and your date is still gorging and repenting, you’re probably feeling you’ve got to say something. So go ahead, but know you may be risking the relationship. When the two of you are not out for a meal, try saying something like, “You know how much I care about you, and I’m upset when we go out to eat and then you feel badly about yourself later. Can we talk about this and find a solution together?” You’ve put your cards on the table, shown that you care, and are willing to play a role in resolving the issue. You’ve also avoid saying, “You overeat,” or anything else judgmental. Hopefully, the conversation that follows will be a productive one.

Matt Coppa is a writer and editor in New York.
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