Why Fighting With Your Partner Can Be Bad News For Your Diet

If you've ever found yourself digging for your chocolate stash or speed-ordering a pizza after a fight with your partner, you're not alone. Unfortunately, feuding with your spouse or significant other can do more than strain a relationship — it can strain your waistband as well.

A 2015 study published in Clinical Psychological Science found that "hostile" couples actually had higher levels of ghrelin — the hunger triggering hormone — in their systems after an argument. The same couples who had the higher levels of ghrelin also reported making poor food choices, like high-fat and high-carbohydrate ultra-processed fast food.

Behaviors including withdrawal and hostility can raise ghrelin more than a simple argument with your significant other over what time to leave to make it to an appointment on time. "The more that these behaviors occurred, the higher the ghrelin levels," the study's lead author Lisa Jaremka told Self. The more intense the fight, the more likely you might be to make those unhealthier food choices, and Jaremka noted that ghrelin itself tends to make people more likely to crave junk food rather than simply feeling hunger. 

What you should do instead of snacking

Rather than turning to the fridge every time your partner forgets to take out the trash and it sparks a disagreement, remind yourself to pause and take a minute before reaching for a snack. Head out for a walk, meditate, and generally try to drop your stress levels before making an unhealthy food choice. Stock your fridge with easy, healthy snacks that you enjoy, so that if you are tempted to eat after a fight, you can choose healthier options (via Self).

Funny enough, food is actually the most common thing that most couples fight about, according to a 2020 survey that found 37 percent of couples argued more about food than any other topic, including finances and infidelity. (Of course, that survey included minor arguments alongside more serious fights, so take it with a grain of salt — or the next time you're arguing about where to order takeout from, remember that you're not the only couple who fights about this regularly.)