Here's How Your Friends Influence Your Weight
Friends can be one of the biggest influences, especially when it comes to the way you eat. It's easy to indulge in just one more drink or a dessert if your friends are doing it, too. But can your friends also help you keep the weight off? Here are five ways your pals play a role in what you consume:
They bring the party. People are more comfortable at the dinner table if everyone's eating similar foods. When your friends order fries instead of salad, you probably will, too. If they're sticking to lower-calorie foods, however, you'll likely make similar choices. The same goes for alcohol. If everyone else is drinking water, coffee, and soda, you're not likely to go against the grain and order a martini.
- Know your limits, and stick to them.
- Ask your friends for support.
They take you out on the town. Dining with friends often means eating at restaurants instead of at home. This makes it harder to control portion size and calorie counts.
- Study the menus at your local hangouts and find the foods most likely to support your healthy diet.
- Ask your waiter to serve only half your dinner at the table and box the rest to go.
- Plan your get-togethers around activities instead of food, and encourage your friends to do the same.
You copy their portion sizes. A 2009 Arizona State University study showed that people tend to mimic their dining companions when it comes to choosing portion size, even when they have dramatically different body types and caloric needs.
- Learn about appropriate portion sizes and food choices at the USDA's ChooseMyPlate.gov website.
- Choose foods and portions that are appropriate for you.
They keep you company. With 2/3 of the American population now considered overweight or obese, it's become more acceptable to consume more and weigh more. If most of your friends, family, and coworkers are overweight, it will be more acceptable to you to be overweight, too. However, if you hang with a thinner crowd, you'll tailor your eating and fitness habits to fit in.
- Cultivate new friendships with physically fit people (by joining a gym, hiking club or fitness class) and emulate those peers.
- Persuade your closest buddies to get fit with you.
They bring peer pressure. When you're on the fence about whether to order the chocolate cake and your friends says, "go for it, you've had a tough day, you deserve it," chances are you'll cave in. If, however, they say, "don't do it, you'll regret it," chances are you'll step away from the dessert table.
- Ask your friends to help you stay on track when it comes to your diet and fitness goals.
- Return the favor by doing the same for them.
USDA Choose My Plate - http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
Harvard Health Publications
Harvard Medical School
How your friends make you fat-the social network of weight
Posted May 24, 2011, 12:53 pm
Christine Junge, Editor, Harvard Health Publications
Watching Your Weight? Beware of Skinny Friends With Big Appetites
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.