Crazy but True! How Dining with a Man Can Help You Eat Less

Are you trying to lose a few pounds, shaping those curves? Well, here’s something that might help: eat more meals around men.

A recent study has reported on average the number of calories a person ingests will vary depending on if they are eating with a man, woman or mixed sex group. Some see these findings as breaking research in the study of eating disorders like obesity and anorexia. This conclusion is led by previous studies that implied that how women believed they should eat around men could play a part in eating disorders.

We All Eat More When Our Dining Companion Is a Woman

A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology reported men and women both appear to eat larger meals when dining with women. Yet when eating with men, both sexes appear to eat smaller portions. The study hints that men and women are subconsciously impacted on how to behave in each other’s company.

Throughout their observations, the researchers found that men on average were likely to ingest more when eating with women, while women tended to eat less. This was the complete opposite of how the sexes behaved when eating with same sex companions. Women were likely to put more calories on their plate with other women and, curiously, men seemed to eat less when dining with men.

Subconscious Responses to Food?

The study attributes this behavior to unconscious scripts, patterns of behavior engaged in without real consideration. In fact, none of the participants – who did not know they were being observed in the first place – was aware their dining partner’s food choices appeared to be influenced by them at all, let alone by their sex.

If anything, these findings reveal food plays a subconscious role in the impressions we want to give others. Women, hoping to project an air of femininity and delicacy, apparently want men to see them as light, thoughtful eaters looking out for their figure. Meanwhile, men seemed to believe their masculinity relied on the need to eat big, meaty plates.

Yet, curiously, findings showed these same men were likely to eat less when hanging with the boys. In mixed groups, women still tended to eat fewer calories, but at women-only meals felt comfortable enough to put more food on their plates.

who you eat withAwareness Is the First Step

In regards to eating disorders like anorexia and obesity, researchers are hopeful these findings can help people make healthier choices. They believe that if the genders are aware of the influence the opposite sex has on their eating habits, they will rethink the context of their eating choices, consciously eating to meet their needs and not someone else’s impression.

Of course, this may only be a small Band-Aid for the bleeding. Eating disorders that can lead to anorexia and obesity are extreme mental problems that will not be resolved because an individual stops considering who is sitting across the table. Individuals that restrain themselves in one eating situation are likely to binge when they are alone.

Still, this study does put a new light to the power of social relationships and may be useful in the long term. If it aids in educating the public in better nutritional habits, we are taking positive steps.