Don't panic....here's a closer look at the "he'll leave you if you get fat" survey

     As the Huffington Post said, “It’s been a rough year for women struggling with their weight.” That followed a new survey where half of men polled said they’d leave a mate who got fat. Wait a minute, though….it’s really not that simple.

     We already know a few discouraging facts. It’s well established, for example, that overweight women have more trouble being hired. Their weight also biases the care the health care they receive. And, there are the increased health risks. There’s the hassle of finding nice clothes. What’s more, while all married people, statistically speaking, gain more weight over time than singles, women gain more than men—and partly for biological reasons. Now this latest.

     As a diet coach and eating disorder psychologist, I can state unequivocally that the worst thing a woman can do with this news is to run out and start a brand-new diet. Making some changes could be in order. But first, let’s calm down and consider some other facts. First, the survey authors note that relative weight is what matters. That is, men dislike having a mate who’s larger than they are. Large men don’t necessarily leave large women, then. Second, there are no statistics suggesting that overweight women mate less frequently than others. Their rates of marital satisfaction, in fact, are higher overall than those of thinner people.

     So why not run out and start that diet anyway, for all the reasons we might be better off slimmer? Well, diets are usually doomed if not begun thoughtfully, with calm and realistic preparation. Starting one in a panic, in reaction to yet another feel-bad-about-myself bit of news, are particularly apt to fail, and fast. Diets begun to please someone else, a mate or even a potential one, won’t fall into the thoughtful, calm, and realistic category, either.

     Instead, think about what changes would lead to better health and better weight. Smaller portions? Eating out less often? Breaking a fast-food habit? Figure out what would help you get started, solve problems, and stay on track. Get support. Give yourself the tools and time to succeed in making and keeping yourself more healthy and more attractive. For yourself, and for your own reasons.

For more on reaching and keeping your best weight, visit http://www.eatsanely.com, where my workbook and other “sane eating” tools appear, and at “Thin From Within”, a blog at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/thin-within