Here’s the scene: Boy meets girl. Boy asks girl out. Boy and girl go to a nice Italian restaurant. (Or, since the boy is on a budget or thinks Olive Garden is a nice Italian restaurant, they go to Olive Garden.) They view the menu. Girl really wants to order the creamy, cheese stuffed ravioli and instead, when the waiter arrives to the table, she orders the low calorie chicken marsala. Why? Because she doesn’t want to look like a pig. Or, she at least wants to appear to be somewhat health conscious.
We’ve all done it. Don’t pretend you haven’t. And now there is a study that proves that to be true, and confirms what we already knew about men - they eat whatever the hell they want regardless of who they are with - male or female.
Here’s the study in a nutshell: Meredith Young, PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior, studied students at three universities in natural eating environments in cafeterias. All cafeterias had a wide variety of food and companion options.
Women who ate with a male companion chose foods of significantly lower caloric value than did women who were observed eating with another woman. In group settings with mixed genders, women also chose lower caloric foods than when they ate with only all women.
Most likely, either consciously or sub-consciously women believe that smaller, healthier portions are seen as more feminine, and women might feel that if they eat less they will be considered more attractive to men.
I definitely think this does change a bit though, as we age, because although I can recall some recent girls’ nights in where we used it as our opportunity to gorge on junk food, I can remember far more lunches with girlfriends whose healthy choices inspired me to choose the salad over the burger, whereas eating with my boyfriend caused me to ditch the salad for the fat-laden pizza.
Choosing food based on gender of companion in our late twenties and beyond may depend more on many variables such as how badly we are trying to lose weight or improve our health, and how long we’ve known the dining companion. ie. Is it a first date with a guy or have we been dating him awhile.
What do you gals think? How are your food choices influenced by your eating companions?