By Christina | September 15, 2009
A new study was recently released that focused on the relationship between consumption of food and dining partners. The results were interesting, but not surprising. Women were found to eat more and consume more calories if they were eating with a group of fellow women. Whereas men were found to be completely unaffected by their dining mates regardless of the size of the group or the gender of their other friends at the table.
As a woman myself, the notion that women eat differently depending on who they are with is not shocking to me. When women first start dating, they often lose weight. An argument can be made that women in a new relationship are so infatuated that they don’t have time to think about eating. The more likely truth, however, is that women on dates pick at their food like birds to impress their dates and end up losing weight as a result of not wanting the men they are dating to see them eat. On the other hand, once married, both men and women in new marriages tend to put on a few extra pounds because they are no longer worried about attracting the opposite sex and get lax with their eating habits.
It makes sense why women are affected by how they eat when in the presence of men. It, unfortunately also makes sense that women’s eating habits change when in the presence of other women. When in the company of other women, especially if the dining group is comprised of good friends, women let their guard down. They tend to drink more and eat more. What this study failed to show, though, is that women can also be influenced to eat more healthfully as a result of eating with all women.
I have found when I eat out with women, whether it is with only one woman or a group of women, that it only takes the first person to order to determine the direction that the ordering is going to go for the whole table. In other words, if you are coveting the fettuccine alfredo and the first woman at your table orders a salad with the dressing on the side as her entree, chances are every woman at the table is going to forgo the fattening menu items in favor of lower calorie fare. The same principle applies to desserts. It only takes one woman at the table to say yes to dessert in order for every woman at the table to order dessert. And if the first woman to order says that she will pass on dessert, every other woman at the table will too.
The fact that the study showed how easily persuaded women are when in the presence of their own gender makes me a little sad for all of us women. The fact that men could care less who they eat with and order whatever they feel like eating every time they go out illustrates how pathetic women really are as a collective group.
Women are strong and independent in all aspects of their lives except when it comes to food. We let men make us feel fat if we dare to eat prime rib and a loaded baked potato (and god forbid dessert) in their presence and we let other women dictate whether we will be eating to excess or eating healthfully depending on how the first woman in the group orders. Women should take notes from men on eating with others. No one should influence what you eat and how much you eat just because they want to share a dining experience with you. If you order what you want to eat and stop eating when you are no longer hungry, chances are you will consume fewer calories when you go out to eat.