One thing that I’ve discovered is that healthy eating and social arrangements are often in battle. Having just finished at Bristol, I am currently residing in a mole-like state, clad in my favourite pyjamas. Surprisingly, this is actually working wonders for my healthy diet. But the moment I’m dragged out of hibernation to see friends, it all goes to pot. We set our eating goals, plan our meals and succeed when alone, only to be ruined when a colleague brings cupcakes into work or your friends decide to order pizzas. In a poll, women cited social temptations as their biggest obstacles to healthy eating.
A large body of research looks at how eating behaviour is affected by social influences. A recent study showed that individuals who identified as people-pleasers over-eat in social situations. Participants had to sit with another person ate some M&Ms and then offered the participant the bowl. The participants who rated themselves as high people-pleasers tended to take more M&Ms than others. As a huge people-pleaser I think I would have also eaten the ceramic bowl to make them happy.
Similarly, another study looked at pairs of women eating and found that we tend to mimic each other’s behaviours, taking bites when we see the other person biting. Researchers suggested that mirroring other’s eating patterns is done to make us more likeable, as it is shown that we like people better when they mirror our behaviours.
So, what does this mean for how to combat social overeating?
Many articles advise to eat before you see friends or simply say no to food. However, to stick to healthy eating long-term, you have to be realistic! I always feel really awkward refusing the food that someone has made for me at a dinner party and let’s be honest, having a salad before going out isn’t going to stop me reaching for the pizza everyone else is eating.
So I propose a few potential solutions, so you can stay healthy without having to make things socially awkward:
1. Go to a healthy restaurant Tell your friends you are eating healthily and suggest which restaurant you go to. My friend and I are about to try out a place London called ‘Tanya’s cafe’ that offers raw, vegan options and even does superfood cocktails! /http://www.tanyascafe.com/.
2. Offer to bring a dish to dinner parties. This means you can happily eat with you friends without having to refuse food. Who knows, maybe your fellow diners will appreciate you bringing a healthy alternative. I recently tried option 2 at a family dinner where I was asked to make dessert. Although this dish isn’t the healthiest, it is a certainly better than the non-vegan alternative and I definitely didn’t feel as guilty after!
1 cup peanut butter
handful of peanuts
1 packet oreos (can you believe they are vegan?!)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey (or agave syrup to make it vegan)
1 bar dark chocolate
1. Blend oreos with 2 tablespoon coconut oil until a crumb is formed.
2. Press into bottom of a cake tin and bake in 180 oven for 5mins, then cool.
3. Meanwhile blend peanut butter, bananas, honey and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil until smooth and moose-y.
4. Spoon mixture on top of (not so buttery) biscuit base.
5. Melt dark chocolate and mix with teaspoon of coconut oil.
6. Drizzle chocolate ganache on pie
7. Set in freezer for 2 hours and thaw for 15mins before serving.
8. Sprinkle with chopped nuts for decoration