Social connectedness and its impact on diet

Posted by Trista Chan on July 11, 2017

There's no question that building and nurturing relationships can bring joy and overall feelings of happiness.  What many overlook is that it can also promote better physical health, a lower chance of developing mental illnesses, and  increased job opportunities.

Research has shown that belonging to a social group and being socially connected with others can change your health in terms of diet and exercise. The idea of eating as a form of socializing is not groundbreaking, but many overlook the fact that who you eat with has a significant impact on the types of food you eat, and your overall diet.  Food and social interaction are deeply embedded in us from birth, and without realizing it, our bodies and minds change our diet based on the people around us.  For example, Females tend to eat less calories when they are with men as opposed to women, and both males and females have been known to eat less when they are in front of a stranger.  As a generalization, people tend to mirror their eating partners' portions, and eat more when in larger groups!

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The big question in all of this is, why? Why do our eating habits change based on who we are with and the social relationship we have with them? There are a number of reasons, and the first is our cultural attitude. In Western society, women are expected to consume less, and its ingrained from a young age.  Thus, they may subconsciously eat less in front of people they want to impress, and similarly, men may eat more in front of friends that they want to impress.  

In conclusion, our relationships and the people that we spend the most time with definitely have an impact on the food choices we make and directly correspond with our overall wellbeing. So, whether you are single, married, or trying to impress someone, make sure to pay attention to how much you are eating. Take a moment to think about your surroundings and what exactly you’re about to eat, to not get swept up in the social aspects of the meal. Because why you may be heavily influenced by your surroundings, you are also able to control your own behaviours when it comes to diet and wellbeing.

 

 

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