Can an Unhealthy Relationship Cause Weight Gain?

If you are in an unhealthy relationship, you may be more likely to gain weight due to poor eating habits caused by stress, anxiety, or depression

Relationship problems can have a direct effect on your physical health. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, you may be more likely to gain weight due to poor eating habits caused by stress, anxiety, or depression.

Many who are unhappy in their relationships gravitate towards unhealthy foods in order to escape negative emotions. They may also neglect a regular exercise routine, which can further contribute to weight gain. Studies have shown that chronic stress and poor eating habits related to unhealthy relationships can damage your immune system and increase your risk of obesity-related disease.

How to prevent weight gain in unhealthy relationships

Instead of finding comfort in high-calorie, high-sugar junk foods, find activities that relax you and elevate your mood. Examples include:

  • Listening to music
  • Joining a dance class
  • Training for a marathon
  • Meeting friends and venting out your pent-up feelings
  • Watching movies
  • Writing or journaling
  • Pursuing a hobby such as gardening and painting
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Joining a support group
  • Getting involved in community events
  • Raising donations for people with rare diseases

By engaging in healthy activities that you enjoy, you encourage the release of feel-good hormones in your body. 

Of course, while it is important to address your eating habits, your main goal should be to tackle the root of the problem. Otherwise, relationship problems will keep resurfacing. 

Whether your unhealthy relationship is with your spouse, parent, or child, the best way to prevent weight gain is to first address the problems in your relationship. A relationship counselor or mental health therapist can help you navigate the relationship and find effective ways to cope with the stress.

However, if you have tried your best to repair the relationship to no avail, you may need to consider whether ending the relationship is better for both your mental and physical health.

Medically Reviewed on 3/15/2022


Image Source: iStock Images

Kouvonen A, Stafford M, De Vogli R, et al. Negative aspects of close relationships as a predictor of increased body mass index and waist circumference: the Whitehall II study. Am J Public Health. 2011;101(8):1474-1480.

Sobal, Jeffery, Barbara S. Rauschenbach, and Edward A. Frongillo. “Body weight and relationship quality among women: Associations of obesity and underweight with relationship communication, conflict, and happiness.” Int J Sociol Fam. 2009; 25-44.


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