Food and the Single Girl
On a recent morning, my run took me past our local bagel shop, just early enough that the blooming scent of carby goodness wafted out the front door and chased me down the street.
When I got home, I dished out my usual breakfast of plain, full-fat yogurt, topped with fruit (a pear that day) and maple syrup, then typed out the following tweet: “Also pro tip: don’t run past the bagel shop if you don’t plan on stopping for a bagel.”
My friend Hillary replied: “My husband is roasting an everything bagel right now. It’s torture, the one thing I miss when skipping simple carbs.”
Such is a benefit of living alone — at least for me. Because I cook for one, I can make whatever I want and not let the scent of a toasting bagel lure me away from what I need to eat to reach my health goals, which right now are to stay lean while training for my sixth marathon, which I’ll run in May.
Food and singledom is the subject of two recent studies that come down on either side of whether or not bachelorhood does a body good. One found that single people lean toward being skinnier than those who cohabitate. The other found that living with someone means you tend to eat healthier than if you live alone.
The first report, published recently in the Journal of Family Issues, looked at 20 years of data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a long-running federal study of Americans who were 14 to 22 when they were first interviewed in 1979. It found that in general, living alone was associated with lower body mass index compared to living with someone else.
The study’s author, Jay D. Teachman, a professor of sociology at Western Washington University, conjectures that married people get into routines, but also that the nonpartnered may have more of an incentive to stay fit and trim because they are in the dating market. Plus, without someone else there to judge, singles “might be more likely to just open the refrigerator and grab a yogurt and call it good,” he said.
报告的作者Jay D. Teachman是Western Washington University社会学教授，他推测：结婚人群已生活程式化，而单身者保持健美体形另一动机是因为他们还在择偶中。再者，没有伴侣就没人议论你，单身者很可能打开冰箱拿出酸奶来吃就行了。
In the other study, published in August in Nutrition Reviews, researchers from the Queensland University of Technology looked at 41 English-language studies that examined the relationship between food intake and living alone. They found that, in general, people who live alone have lower diversity in what they eat and that they eat fewer fruits and vegetables and less fish than people who are partnered.
Katherine L. Hanna, the lead researcher on the study and a lecturer at the School of Exercise and Nutrition studies at the university, noted that there were “inconsistencies” between individual studies, and that the group’s findings are a starting point for future research. But she speculates that economic factors may be one reason that single people tend to eat less nutritious food.
这项研究的负责人-锻炼与营养研究学院的讲师Katherine L. Hanna注意到：针对个体的研究与针对群体的研究有不一致之处，而针对群体的研究发现才是将来研究的开端。但她同时也推测：经济因素或许也是单身者较少吃有营养食物的一个原因。
Ultimately, “it really depends on the individual person,” said Katherine W. Bauer, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, who was not involved in either study. “How much importance do they place on healthy eating, regardless of living status?”
密歇根大学公共健康学院的助教Katherine W. Bauer总结道：“这真是取决于个体。（就是说）无论生活状况如何，人们认为健康饮食究竟有多重要？”
I’ve been on both sides of the “living status” line. When I lived with a boyfriend, some of my food choices revolved around compromise: What did I want to eat that would appease him too? After we split and I nearly broke my foot in a marathon, I fell into bad eating habits, sometimes consuming dinners of blue corn nachos doused in cheese, then dipped into salsa and hummus and washed down with two glasses of wine. Why bother making a fancy dinner when it was just me and the dog, who did her part by licking my plate clean when I was through?
But last spring, when I set out to lose some weight, I did so without someone else watching over my shoulder or asking that I make things that I didn’t want to eat. I felt no pressure to add a side of pasta to my salad, or rice to the bottom of my bean dish, because no one else was there to care. I gave up alcohol for August, too. And while that knocked out some of my typical dating opportunities (going to grab a drink was out, though this knocked out candidates who refused to hang out with me without the aid of alcohol — not really a bad thing), I didn’t need to keep booze in my house because another person wanted it, and therefore I wasn’t tempted by it.
I could also experiment with dishes without another person being affected by a recipe failure. And if I did fail, I sometimes did what Dr. Teachman described: I’d just grab some yogurt and call it a night.
The result: I lost 25 pounds from my peak weight, and now I eat better and drink a lot less alcohol. I’ve kept the weight off too.
But part of that, I know, is me: I like cooking, and I have an incentive — faster race times — to keep the weight off. I also have easy access to fresh foods, know how to make them taste good and, because I work from home, don’t have a long commute that makes coming home to cook dinner feel like one weight stacked onto the other.
“A lot of it is driven by who the person is,” Dr. Bauer said. “It depends on where you’re starting from.” Or, as is the case for me, where I’m going: a faster finish line.