It’s been scientifically proven that dads put on weight. When we talk new baby weight, we usually talk about mothers, but fathers are out there, developing little belly bulges of their own. Of course, they don’t have hormone-driven cravings and—oh yeah—a human growing inside of them to blame. So why does this phenomenon occur? Even if you don’t read the research, a simple eyeball test can tell you that it happens. When a dad is in great shape, people say something about it. They say, “He’s hot…for a dad.” Why? Because it’s out of the ordinary for a father to have six-pack abs and that v-shaped muscle thing by his happy trail. Everyone does a double take when they realize a man who looks like that is a father. I don’t know why we should be so surprised but we are. We expect dads to let themselves go a bit. Here’s why it happens.
They eat their children’s food
There are a lot of sugary cereal, cheese and crackers, chicken fingers, and other less-than-diet-friendly foods in the house. You feed your kids healthy food, too, but you also keep these other items around as rewards, or for when they’re just being too darn picky. That means dad has access to them, too.
Mom is too stressed to monitor them
When mom didn’t have her own kid, her husband was her kid—in fact, maybe she was more a mom to him than a partner. Anyways, the woman had a little more mental bandwidth to watch what her partner ate, and tell him not to have three cheeseburgers in one week. But new moms are far too busy and stressed to monitor and control what their partners eat. And when men are left to their own devices, they may not eat very well.
Mom gained weight
Since mom gained weight, dad may feel like he’s free to expand, too. Comparatively, next to his partner, he’ll still be “in shape.” But mom’s weight is baby weight that will go away after delivery and dad’s weight is onion ring and beer weight that won’t go away as easily.
Both parents are sleep-deprived, and sleep deprivation drives up hormones that make us feel hungry. It’s important to trade nighttime feeding shifts so each parent can catch up on sleep.
Naturally, fatherhood is stressful. Dads might not even realize that they’re emotionally eating, but they could be scarfing down a lot of snacks after putting their babies to bed, just to cope with all the emotions of the day.
Stroller walks versus gym time
Stroller walks may have replaced gym time. But pushing a stroller around doesn’t burn nearly as many calories as doing intense reps on machines and throwing medicine balls do.
They hang with other dads
Dads want to hang with other dads—men who understand their experiences. However, other dads will probably just enable them and tell them it’s fine to keep eating macaroni and cheese every night.
The “dad bod” has been normalized
The “dad bod” is everywhere—just the term, I mean. Well, and the body. But because “dad bods” are so discussed, the idea that they are the new norm could sneak into a man’s subconscious.
In order to relieve mom of some tasks, dad might do some of the cooking. But dad might not exactly know how to make healthy meals like mom does.
Or ordering delivery
If dad really doesn’t know how to cook and mom is too busy or tired, then that family is ordering delivery. But that’s rarely the healthier choice.
Leftover pregnancy food
During her pregnancy, the mom may have brought a lot of craving foods into the house. Cookies, peanut butter, ice cream—who knows what else. These are still around, and now guess who is eating them?
The food gifts
Out of the kindness of their hearts, friends and family are bringing food gifts like lasagna, casserole, and cheesy artichoke dip. These are gifts that dad happily gobbles up. You know—to be polite.
Eating so baby will eat
Sometimes, in order to encourage a child to eat, the dad will take a bite of the kid’s food to prove how tasty it is. Then he’ll take another. Suddenly, dad ate half of the kid’s chicken fingers, just to encourage the kid to eat the other half.
No sex life
Busy parent life doesn’t always leave time for sex. But, dad may not have much incentive to look hot if nobody’s going to see him naked.
A hermit life
Between paternity leave and foregoing social outings to stay home with kids, dad may not really see (or, more importantly, be seen) by that many people. Without the societal pressure to look good, it’s easy for fathers to develop “dad bod.”