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Wednesday wondering: Do you pay attention to what other people eat?

Posted Sep 07 2008 8:36pm

On my recent Blog Indiana post, Casey commented about meeting me:

I loved LOVED that you have a book out about losing more than half of yourself and yet you ate. Food. Like real food. Silly huh?

No, it's not silly. Of course, not everyone is happy to hear that I don't subsist solely on salads and rice cakes. Last year I posted about eating half a Dairy Queen cake on my birthday and one reader sent me a really angry email. If this blog had a door, she would have slammed it as she stormed off in a rage. The ire ice cream inspires on this blog surprises me. (BTW, I just searched for "Dairy Queen" to find that entry and found 10 entries. Maybe I should change my nickname from PQ to DQ?)

I'm not ashamed to eat food. When I was losing weight, I was hyper-aware of what I was eating and what others were eating. I wondered what people would think of my lunch choices. When I wasn't wondering that, I wondered what other people thought I was thinking about their choices. I went to lunch with 3 friends one day and they all ordered large burgers with fries and I ordered a small salmon bisque because I'd just eaten and wasn't hungry. As I stared at the food on our table, I hoped they didn't think I was judging them for their meal choices. I think women should eat whatever the hell they want to eat and my small soup was not a judgement on their own eating habits.

Eventually I realized that I could never win. If I ordered something healthy, I might be seen as a diet nazi who knows no joy in life because she never eats an Almond Joy bar. If I ordered something decadent, people might think I should not be eating that because I could get fat again. Now I just eat whatever the hell I want to, be it deep-friend cookie dough or a grilled chicken sandwich. Since I had that personal epiphany, I don't observe what other people are eating that much either, unless I want to ask for a bite off of their plate.

However, all of this thinking reminded me of an article I read a couple months ago about how women observe what their friends eat, which affects what they'll eat. If everyone else is ordering a salad, you're far less likely to order a double-cheeseburger with fries. However, you're also much more likely to go home and eat double what you would have because you didn't have the double-cheeseburger you wanted.

So I'd like to know, do you watch what your friends are eating? And if so, does it affect what you eat? Do you judge them because of it?

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