In this episode, we are talking about your friends...and maybe behind their back but mainly their social influence on you.
You are who you eat with. Have you ever noticed that most friend groups tend to resemble one another? Their fashion sense, their humor and even their eating and drinking habits? That’s because eating behavior is strongly influenced by our peers. We tend to eat differently when we are with other people compared to when we eat alone. Research by ScienceDirect found that one reason for the conforming to behavior of others is adaptive and we find it rewarding. The norms of appropriate eating are set by the behavior of others but also shared cultural expectations and environmental cues.
Sharing a meal with your friends, family and co workers is a very common activity. Almost every single get-together has food including meetings, parties, weddings and even funerals. Food is a huge factor in our social lives and we tend to mimic those we dine with. If we are having dinner out with friends that like greasy burgers and fries and always get a milkshake after, we are more likely to model what they eat. Studies also show we are more likely to eat larger portions when we dine with friends than if we ate alone. On the other side of the coin, we may eat a smaller amount of food if we feel that it will make us look better in social situations such as a first date or a lunch interview.
Here are three tips for including social gathering in your healthy lifestyle:
Be the first person to order at a restaurant. You'll be more tempted to change your order if you hear others ordering less healthy options.
Drink lots of water! It can help fill you up before the meal and if you are drinking alcohol, slow your pace.
Bring cash instead of paying with a credit card. Plan to bring just enough to cover your meal and tip.