Is Your Social Circle Forcing You Into Unhealthy Eating Habits?

platterOur social environment does a lot in the way of shaping us, and forming us into fully fledged adults. Many of our tendencies, our likes, dislikes and our network of close friends, are all due to the environment in which we submerge ourselves. With that said, we often do not associate our social environment with the status of our diet, but perhaps it’s time that we did.

There are an abundance of different influences that force our hand one way or the other in terms of our eating and our exercise routines, oftentimes without us even really ever noticing. One of the most influential factors is the tendency to mimic others’ behavior, as it has a profound effect on our own more often than we realize.

In fact, a Dutch study was conducted to help find more of a correlation between our eating habits and those around us. 140 participants were asked to sit for a meal and have their eating habits examined; researchers paid close attention to the number of bites that each person took throughout the entirety of the meal. When the overall number of bites was compared, it was found that the number for everyone at the table was within the same range, and so too was the rate at which the meal was completed by each person.

Now, it may sound like a coincidence, but the results tell us that the way in which we eat, what we eat, and even when we eat, are all influenced by those around us. So how does this concern your health? Well, if you’re sitting down for a holiday meal with a group that eats fast, in large quantities, and doesn’t necessarily worry about health, this could affect you in a number of negative ways.

This experiment is a great demonstration of just how social situations can interact with our own unique personalities and ultimately lead to unhealthy behavior. So, taking this information into account can be extremely beneficial, not only for the holiday period, but for everyday social gatherings. Knowing your limit, knowing your pace and knowing what’s deemed healthy can make all the difference. Perhaps knowing this can mean that you swing the pendulum in your own favor at the next social gathering, and everyone eats well, and overeating is an afterthought.

So, believe it or not, we are always receiving and transmitting cues that help to sway and predict what the norm will be in any given situation. Being aware of this can help all parties involved in a majorly healthy way.


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Andrea Goh

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