Monday, December 7, 2009

Do your friends influence your eating habits?

I wrote an article about this topic in Shape magazine a couple years ago, and I thought I'd address it here because I continue to realize how much this is true for me. If I'm brunching with a super-healthy friend, I'll usually forgo the burger and fries and get an egg white omelette with whole wheat toast on the side . But if my friend orders the burger and fries, well, there's a much greater chance I will follow suit. Why do you think that is?

For me, a big reason is that I want to be part of the group. I don't want to stand out or to make someone else feel guilty about their food choices. Maybe this is a lame excuse for my lack of willpower, but I really think it's true because I am very much a people pleaser. I want to be the relatable friend others feel comfortable around. The one that can chime in and say "me too!" when a friend is complaining about gaining a few pounds or the drunk pizza she had the night before. Does that sound ridiculous?

Excuse the cheesy pic (pun intended)--I thought it'd be good to get some fresher faces on the blog instead of 29 year-olds with forehead wrinkles for a change. Anyway, I really need to get a handle on my actions when it comes to friends and eating. Of course, eating is a social thing that should be enjoyed, but sometimes I spiral out of control a bit too much.

The Harvard study that was included in my Shape story stated that if you have an obese friend, your chances of being overweight increase by 57 percent. That is a lot. Why? Because if you have overweight friends, your ideals of what is healthy and acceptable is different, and you tend to adopt their habits. One of the experts from the study told me that even a long distance friend you only see once a year can have an effect on your weight. Crazy!

Now, of course you can still be healthy and have an overweight friend. We don't need to take that study so literally, but I do think there is some truth in the fact that your friends influence what you eat. Most of my friends are like me: Conscious about their health, but still enjoy ice cream or a slice of pizza (or two) from time to time. (Or, um, a lot of the time).

So what about you: Do your friends influence your eating habits?


  1. oh yeah, they do.. lol when i was in high school, i was starting to gain weight and i tried dieting but me and my friends would always dropped by this food joint soo instead of loosing the lbs, i ended up packing on even more.. lol it's actually in our nursing classes that to help improve the appetite is to eat with other people..
    it will always, always make you eat more calories lol and it's not a prob for those model thin people though lol but for us who are trying to get away from the guilty pleasures of life, it's a good luck lol

  2. yessssssssss. ugh, this is SO true. it's especially hard when your boyfriend eats and drinks whatever he wants and remains a beanpole!

    I'm working in Lex for 2 months and am treating it like boot camp: no going out to eat, working out every day, and NO DRINKING. man, it's already hard, but not having my besties in town makes it WAY easier!

  3. I think they do too, and I used to be like you. But a few years ago I became vegetarian and it changed that. At first it was hard because i felt out of the group like you said. But then I learnt how to make an advantage of this difference. It can be a great conversation subject (except with some people who make fun of me but I know how to answer to them now!)
    Now it's a good excuse to invite friends for dinner and cook good vegetarian meals to proove them vegetarians don't only eat grass!!
    So sometimes, ordering something different doesn't make others feel bad about what they eat but it can make them think ;)

    (this comment must be full of english mistakes i'm sorry!!)

    Ellen's french reader ;-)

  4. Glad I'm not the only one, O! Yes, high school was the worst. The "cool" thing to do in my group was to eat pretzels with honey mustard for lunch, so I'd do that too, but then I'd be so hungry by the time I got home, I'd pig out! Umm yeah, not so cool.

    And yes, MLA, it's so hard to not eat what your guy eats. My bf isn't a beanpole, but for some reason, it's more acceptable for guys to get a burger and fries. I spend the most time with my bf on the weekends, which is usually when I'm more lax on the "diet," which really isn't a good combo! Just curious...u work in a restaurant, right? How do you resist temptation with food constantly in your face?!

    Hi Aurore! Your Enlish is GREAT. I make plenty of spelling and grammar errors, and I really have no excuse for it, so don't worry, I won't ever judge :) So I'm curious, how do you answer people when they make fun of you or give you a hard time about your eating choices?? I've had friends do that to me and I've never known what to say!

  5. Well, for example, people often ask me if i eat chicken, so i explain "no a chicken is an animal so i don't eat it" and they answer "but a chicken is stupid, who cares if you eat it?" so i tell them "i know a lot of stupid people but i don't eat them".
    It's those kind of silly comments that are easy to answer to.
    But sometimes it's harder because people can be really stubborn and it can be boring to justify your choices!

    What sort of comment do your friends make about your eating choice?
    Sometimes when i don't know how to answer, i ask questions.
    Often i get "How can you not eat meat, it's so good, i couldn't live without meat!"
    so i answer "How can you eat meat, it's so discusting, i couldn't eat meat!" (it's actually not true because sometimes i miss eating meat) but it shows the stupidity of their comments!

  6. Ohh that's a good idea to make a joke out of it! With me, it's usually just "Is that ALL you're going to eat?" or "Maybe you don't, but I actually like to eat." It's like helllo people! Have you seen me in a bikini? Umm yeah, I like to eat too. haha

  7. Yeah I see! I don't understand why people make such comments, it's so stupid!
    Why do they care about what YOU eat!

  8. I enjoy eating meat, but one of my good friends is a vegetarian, so when we all get together for a pot luck, we tend to do meatless. And no one ever complains actually. We had a holiday dinner party (just girls) the other night and the menu was full of yummy, veggie friendly stuff. Sure, there was a high fat content in some of it (rosemary roasted cashews? yes please) but there was lots of color which usually means lots of vitamins and minerals.
    Order what you want - you are paying for it (in $ and calories) so don't let other people make fun of your decision to get a salad or a big plate of ribs.


  9. ellen- I don't work in a restaurant...I was bartending for a few months when I first moved to Chicago, but am now in Lex for a couple of months working for a designer and then it's back to Chi-town! South Social & Home (MY OWN BIZ!) will be launching in January and I can't wait!

    but, it is SO hard being home (hello, my mom was a caterer for 30 years!) and not falling into a pattern of eating all of the not-so-healthy stuff that moms like to fill the fridge with...I've been good so far!!

  10. Ohh, sorry! Why did I think you told me you were temporarily working at Atomic Cafe? Maybe that was someone else. That is AWESOME about your company!!!! Amaaaazing! Can't wait to hear about it :)

  11. I absolutely agree! It got me into a lot of trouble in high school!!

  12. oh, I worked at Atomic for a couple of years when I was like 19 ;)

    lovin' all your make me feel like SUCH a lazy blogger!

  13. Oh lord, sorry Dean, I swear SOMEONE from Lex told me they were working at Atomic right now. Anywhooo...don't let me make u feel lazy. If I didn't have this blog as an outlet, I would be in a dark, dark place right now. haha. You'll be plenty busy when you start your new company!! Can't wait to hear about it!