Who's Coming to Dinner?

Medically reviewed in July 2021

Your dinner companions might have something to do with how much you end up scarfing down.

Case in point: When women in a study dined with men, they tended to choose lower-calorie foods than when dining with other women. Perhaps because they felt eating lightly was more attractive to men. Read on for more dinner-companion caveats.

Morsel-Curbing Motivation
Interestingly, the men in the study ate the same number of calories, no matter the gender of their meal companions. But similar research suggests that both men and women tend to eat more when they're with friends, family, or spouses than they do when eating alone. So what gives? It may be that people simply heap their plates higher when with people they're more comfortable with. But more likely it's about distraction. People pay less attention to feelings of fullness when someone's there beside them. Translation: Your dinner companions can distract you into eating the whole enchilada. (Eating alone? Here are strategies for eating less when dining solo.)

How to Eat Smart, Regardless
So what to do? After all, you can't always control who your dinner partners are. But here's what you can do: Practice mindful eating at every meal. Stop, think about your food, taste every morsel, and listen to your body when it starts to tell you you're full.

How do you know when you're full? Use these tips to put the brakes on food intake at the right time.

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