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Who’s Making You Fat? Your Man or Your Girlfriends?

Most likely your girlfriends.

In a study published in Appetite, women took in more calories when eating with another woman, or a group of women, than with a man.

Even in groups, when a male was around, women ate less. In fact, as the number of men in the group increased, the fewer calories women consumed.

That should make men your new BFFs when it comes to losing weight.

Well, it gets a little more complicated than that.

In another study, women matched their calories to their male partners. Or in other words, they didn’t eat less. How come?

The authors of the first study suggest that psychology is in action. Although they weren’t able to determine the relationships between the men and women, their observation was taken in three college cafeterias, a setting where young women try to “impress” their companions.

They speculate that when the female sees the male as a potential romantic partner, she eats less to impress. But when the male is merely a stranger, she tends to match the calories as an act of courtesy or to conform.

What about women eating with their lifelong romantic partners? The scenario flips again. They tend to eat more.

So what a nation of women to do?

  • You’re likely to eat more around your girlfriends. So be conscious of what’s making it to your mouth
  • If you’re still getting to know someone, this might be the best time of your life to cut back on calories
  • Watch where you make that transition from: “I’m trying to impress so I’ll eat less” to “Ive already impressed so I’ll eat as much as he does.” That’s the time to bring other portion control strategies to the table
  • Several other studies found that people eat less when they eat alone. Oh well. I’m just not going to advice you to do that. Enjoy your company!

PS. and men complain of and wonder why women are too complicated!

Are you a walking example of this situation? Tell us your story.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Farah Mourad December 9, 2009, 12:40 am

    This is so true, when my sister was getting to know her fiance, she was always on diets, trying to look good, and impress… after she got engaged, her and her fiance eat out EVERYDAY, and everything revolved around food, and she has noticed her waistline getting bigger!

    I realized when I’m with my girl friends, I tend to munch and snack alot more… snacking works with conversation, bits of chips with queso in between stories, etc…
    I think that next time I have girls night, I will be sure provide healthy snacking alternatives, and be conscious about how much eating I’m doing instead of talking!

  • NourRD December 11, 2009, 8:35 am

    You make a good point Farah. When you’re involved in a conversation, you can eat unconsciously more than you realize–similar to watching TV.
    Having healthy snack at your parties is great. When you are invited to a potluck and not sure what type of food is there, be the one who brings the healthy dish!

  • Siba December 28, 2009, 7:09 pm

    Actually my man makes me fat 🙂 He keeps sharing “bad stuff” with me like Coke, ice cream, chocolate.. you name it. If he didn’t ask to share, I wouldn’t eat in the first place. Even worse, he loses weight if he misses a meal, and I kill myself to lose a pound. He lost 10 kilos in the past month only because he was studying, and I’ve been trying to lose 5 kilos for the past year and I am still trying!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD December 30, 2009, 10:20 pm

      Siba,

      You are the voice of many women out there! Men do lose weight easier than women. Generally, they have more muscles than we do, and muscles are active tissues that burn energy. The female body is designed to carry more fat–which just sits there. It’s just how we are created! And from observing family and friends, men tend to forget about food when they are focused, while women hit the kitchen every hour or so if they are stressed or have a project to finish.

      You need to start saying “No, thank you. I don’t want to share.” And you can do it nicely. I know it’s difficult but you have to resist the temptation. Keep yourself busy with anything that keeps you away from food. Read, walk, do an exercise video, or take a bubble bath. Be creative and get out of the kitchen.

      Nour

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