Enjoy Meals with a Sensible Eater if You Want to Eat Less

friends eating-25602435_sWho you sit down to enjoy a meal with and how much they eat can actually influence how much you consume , a UNSW Australia-led study concludes.

This psychological effect, is known as social modeling. What it boils down to is that most people tend to eat less than they normally would if they dined alone when their companion consumes smaller portions of food.

Study lead author, Associate Professor Lenny Vartanian of the UNSW School of Psychology, says, “Internal signals like hunger and feeling full can often be unreliable guides. In these situations people can look to the example of others to decide how much food they should consume,” he says.

Social factors are a powerful influence on how much we eat when we are with someone else  and social modeling can have the reverse effect, too. If your companion tends to eat more, you may eat as you normally do or perhaps even more than you normally do.

Researchers of this study believe the effect appears to be stronger in women than men, and this may be because women tend to be more concerned about how they are viewed by others when they are eating.

My takeaway: Whenever you get the opportunity, invite another WW member or nutrition conscious friend or family member to dine with you. For those times when it isn’t possible and you find yourself dining with a big eater, keep these tips in mind so that you don’t imitate the eating habits of your dining companion.

–       Plan exactly what you’re going to eat before you sit down (or arrive at a restaurant).

–       If eating at home, portion out the food onto your plate and refuse seconds or additional tastes, nibbles and bites. If eating at a restaurant, ask for to-go containers as the food is served. Portion out what fits into your Program then and then box up the remaining food for another day.

–       Don’t starve yourself leading up to any meal.

–       Eat healthy portions of vegetables and fruit, along with your meal.

–       Put down your fork often.

–       Be mindful of everything you’re eating and track what you consume.


Sources include:

Modeling of food intake: a meta-analytic review,Lenny R. Vartanian , Samantha Spanos , C. Peter Herman , Janet Polivy, Social Influence, Vol. 10, Iss. 3, 2015