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Why my boyfriend is slim and I'm not

A year ago, when I met my boyfriend, we were fairly stereotypical: I was a chubby ("average-sized") white girl, he was a lean Asian man. I was constantly worried about my intake and felt I'm gaining weight out of thin air, he'd boast about eating insane amounts of food and staying lean. When the subject came up, he would rationalized it like this:

  • He's lean because he's genetically made that way - he's Asian after all
  • He's lean because he doesn't like fatty foods and meat (which, around here, does not include seafood - fish is a vegetable!:P )

Now, I've never really bought into the genetic argument. While differences exist, they are minor and account for what.. the equivalent of a biscuit a day? Not to mention that nowadays, expat Asians as well as young Asians who were brought up on the Western diet are just as chubby as their white counterparts. As for the lack of interest for fats and meat - I am the same. In fact, our common likes and dislikes in terms of food were one of the first things we bonded over!

One year of co-habitation later, this is what *I* think really kept him lean:

  • He doesn't eat as much as I do (yeah, I know, shocker!). He may eat a huge plate at dinner and take his time doing so, making it look like he's been eating a lot but:
    • He doesn't snack. He eats a lot on our meals (about 800 calories), but that's it for him. I eat 500 calories at lunch, but then I snack another 500 after because I get hungry until dinner.
    • He doesn't eat breakfast (there's no way you can make him swallow anything before noon!) - that's 2 meals of <1k calories for him, while I eat about… 4 meals a day?
  • Sweets do nothing for him
    • He says he likes sweets, BUT he takes one bite and that's it. He just feels full afterwards. "Too sweet" he says. While having a square of chocolate only is a laughable idea to me, to him is pretty much the only possibility. He literally can't finish a slice of cheesecake. I can eat the whole cake, even AFTER being already full.
    • When we go out, and he eats rice, fish, veggies, curry in industrial quantities. I have a few spoons of that, and then I gobble up a slice of cake. Guess who just had more calories, me or him? :)
  • (And this is the subtle but really powerful one!) He cannot eat when he's not hungry. 
    • Seriously, you can put ANYTHING in front of him, he just won't touch it.  We often get some treats he likes at home. He loves them, but if he's not hungry he can't swallow anything. They just sit there and rot. While I keep obsessing about them being there, even though they're not even *my* favorite things. I realized having food around always makes me think of it. I can't leave that slice of pizza or small cookie in the house - it's going to consume my thoughts the whole day. He has no such temptations. He gets some stuff he likes, keeps it on his desk, and takes a bite every now and then. It would take him days to finish a pack of snacks, while I'd finish it in 5 minutes. 


Fast forward one year and you can see some big changes for both of us - I lost 25lbs, he gained about 10 and he's now sporting a nice beer belly:)

Why he thinks he got fat? Well, of course, me!

  • He thinks he got fat because we eat out more often than he used to when he was alone. 
  • He thinks he got fat because we eat more stuff I like (pizza) and less stuff he likes (ramen and noodles). 
But that's very inconsistent with what he says - that before we met he used to go out 4 times a week to his favorite restaurant (his friends' restaurant), while nowadays we only go out once or twice a week because I can't really afford the calories, so during weekdays he eats as he used to anyway, he's practically "single". As for the pizza vs. noodles - they add up (given the portion sizes) to the same amount of calories. While the idea of pizza being worse than ramen is widespread, frankly, considering the pizzas here are small and the ramen bowls are HUGE, it's total BS, I'm not buying it (and I did the math, they're the same calories). 


Here's why I think he's gaining weight:

  • He had just bought a car when we met (do I need to explain this?)
  • He used to drink a lot 2-3 nights a week with his buddies. Since I don't quite enjoy him being very drunk, we compromized on him now having 2 cans of beer a night. Do the math and that's 400 calories extra, just from alcohol. 

Despite going in the "right" direction and him going slightly astray, I still think I'm in a fairly slippery place, especially because of that "can't eat if not hungry" trait I seem to lack. It's what makes life easy for him and mine a constant battle with food. And I wonder if I'll ever acquire it, because I can't EVER remember a time when I'd just say no to cake because "I'm full". That's just unthinkable to me... I say "no" because I force myself to, not because I really don't want that delicious thing, and that takes a lot of effort...  

13 votes + -


LivingtheLeanDream wrote 50 months ago:
Its a woman thing to want to eat for the sake of it! My man is just like your bf, if he wasn't hungry he wouldn't eat, he can have one choc I want 3.....he'd never make himself coffee and have a biscuit with it cos he was bored (like I do)! Men! it is a mans world lol

I'm constantly thinking about my next meal lol

Ps Neli, you say a year ago you were chubby, you couldn't have been cos you were lighter than I am now and I'm in no way chubby lol..I was when I was 154 lbs but not these days (just a bit of a belly left now)
nelinelineli wrote 50 months ago:
Hehe, it's all a question of perspective. In Europe I'd be "Average". Here - definitely chubby, since they don't even make clothes the size I was at. They see us all as chubby:) I remember being in Scotland a couple of years back, I felt like a little doll! Tiny, tiny, little thing haha:D
DevoteeofIset wrote 50 months ago:
Hmmmm. I don't know you but from my experience with food being similar to yours. Have you looked into food psychology and emotional eating. I never thought i could have snacks in the house and forget they were there or ignore them and they lasted. Also eating proper nutritious foods until you are full helps retrain your body. Everyone is different with what works and what is working against you. Really studying nutrition and wanting to feed my body good nutrition along with a lot of emotional eating work, i am finally starting to feel like a new personal craving wise/ portion wise etc... i wish you tons of luck and enjoyed your blog. I believe it isn't as much genetics as how one was raised with the relationship with food.
ianthamfyolek wrote 50 months ago:
Honestly, I don't buy the "It's a woman thing" argument. I think hat culturally it is BELIEVED to be a "woman thing", and we are culturally bombarded with the "mom and grandma are great cooks" thing, "men need to suck it up and tough it out" thing, where women are more inclined to be raised in a slightly more food-permissive way.

Cultural factors do play in, as well as the car thing. Americans tend to be more obese because not only do we have a "just do it", or a "why not" attitude combined with a culture that encourages driving EVERYWHERE instead of walking or taking a bicycle. Our city planning, our infrastructure, is set up to encourage driving and not walking. Heck, most American cities have crap for a public transport system.
bonnielee708 wrote 50 months ago:
Okay, I do not snack, dislike sweets, and do not eat processed foods, ever. We make our own tofu, soy milk, mustard, ketchup and pasta/ramen. But something about Los Angeles is not

From Montreal, Canada. Lived in Japan for 10 years. Lived in Los Angeles for 5.

In Japan I was 122 lbs--never moved, ate normally, walked to train and work, wine every night, no car, shopped daily for dinner, ate out 2-3/week. In LA, I have gained ten pounds, eat at home, work at home, have car, eat more Western foods. My Japanese friends told me this would happen, cause it happened to them when they moved to North American. They lost it when they moved back.

I honestly think it is the lack of walking everyday as part of a daily, non-exercise routine. This will be my big change this year. No car.

angel1776 wrote 50 months ago:
Hi, I read your post with interest... not least because my fella is a diddy dot, middle eastern. He is only 5ft 1 and a 28 inch waist. I'm 5ft 3 and a size 20.

I was about 13.5st when I met him 3 years ago and was busy moving furntiture at work (charity shop) and running up and down the road from his to the train station etc, not eating much and getting loads of night-time exercise! lol.

I went down to 12st 10' but since he moved in I've shot up to 15st 9' (or hospital said 16st... I'm not buying that so will go and weigh myself at Boots on monday)

The difference I see is as per your fella, he only eats when he is hungry.... when we eat, he does actually eat more than me, but I then eat more each day.

To summarise: I've always said that those skinny people that SAY they can eat all day and never put on weight... it'sf only because they DON'T!! Same as fat people that moan that they don't eat too much and can't understand why they are big... I'ts because either they don't realise just how much they are eating or they don't account for hidden calories, fats and sugars. :)
feeliek wrote 50 months ago:
Oh my gosh, I can really relate to this. My husband just doesn't see food the same way I do. I LOVE IT. He likes it. That's such a big difference.

I'm always thinking about our next meal. That honestly would never occur to him in a million years.

I'm always adding dishes to the table. An appetizer while we're playing cards? Of course!! Dessert while we're watching a movie? Obviously!! He would never eat those things on his own, and sadly, doesn't even eat them when they're right in front of him if he's not hungry. (I can't believe I said "sadly". He's really lucky!!)
Laura3BB wrote 50 months ago:
I'd missed this post, Neli, very interesting as usual!

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