The big cost to your waistline of eating to please
Second helpings: Some people are over-eating because they don't like to cause offence by refusing food (posed by models)
If the fear of disappointing your hostess is enough to make you take second helpings when you’re full, you’re far from alone.
New research shows sensitive types who worry about people’s feelings tend to overeat in social settings in an attempt to put others at ease.
The study, carried out at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, involved 101 students who completed a questionnaire designed to reveal their people-pleasing characteristics.
After the assessment, the students
were seated with an actor pretending to be another participant, who ate
some M&Ms out of a bowl and then passed it round.
The people-pleasers usually took more
sweets, presumably to demonstrate that the offer was appreciated. ‘They
don’t want to rock the boat or upset the sense of social harmony,’ says
Julie Exline, author of the study.
And it’s twice as hard to refuse the
diet-busting offer of a chocolate biscuit with your coffee if you’re
worried you’ll upset your friend by turning it down.
Eating to please is a syndrome that
many of us know only too well. From childhood, we’ve had it drummed into
us that politeness means clearing the plate, even when we don’t like
what we’re eating. It’s a habit that can be surprisingly hard to break.
I remember with shame an early visit to my in-laws. My mother-in-law had laid on a vast meal including three kinds of potato (mash, chips and baked potato), and in a desperate attempt to curry favour, I piled everything onto my plate.
I even had two helpings of trifle, although I loathe it. Another time, at a posh lunch, I attempted to force down a cold poached egg in aspic.
The trouble with eating to please others, as the researchers point out, is that while it makes you feel briefly happy, you’ll regret it later.
Be polite by all means — but that shouldn’t have to mean piling on the pounds.