Our Behaviors are Contaigious

I was reading through my February 2010 issue of “Runners World” magazine recently and came across some interesting info that I wanted to share.

In a cute article by Marc Parent, called “the Newbie Chronicles”, he quotes from a study, saying “Happiness is contagious, as are other good behaviors like quitting smoking and staying thin. These and their opposites -obesity, depression and cigarettes with coffee – appear to spread between people as if they were viruses; groups of friends “infect” one another with good or bad habits.” Further studies of that report say, “Staying healthy isn’t just a matter of your genes and your diet – good health is also a product, in part, of your sheer proximity to other healthy people.”

Further on in the article he quotes a New York Times article that said “If you want to improve the world with your good behavior, math is on your side. For most of us, within three degrees you are connected to more than 1000 people – all of whom we can theoretically help make healthier, fitter and happier just by our contagious example.”

I found that to be pretty interesting – the concept that the people around you can really affect your health and eating, and that you in turn can affect theirs. Kinda makes you think about who are you hangin’ out with, huh?

About a week or so ago, Jody@Truth2Being Fit posted a great blog and gave some really interesting facts about some research that Dr. Oz did.

He did an ambush eating show and found (as I steal directly from Jody’s site):

1. Going out with 1 or two friends – you will eat 35% more food.

2. Go out with 7 or more people – you will double the amount of food you normally eat. If you go out, say 3 times per week with a group of friends, you can eat 72,000 extra calories per year – which adds up to 20 pounds in a year!

I thought this really backed up what was written in the “Runner’s World” article, and in addition, helped to explain why (much to my husband’s, the normal eater’s, chagrin) a recovering compulsive eater like myself panics about going to parties and people’s houses where you just hang out and talk while there is a buffet of food in front of you. But now I have the facts to back me up!

Do you think that who you hang out with affects what or how much you eat?


One Day at a Time... Nurture myself... Awareness... Letting Go... Listen to my Body

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Comments

23 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Jody - Fit at 52
    02 March 2010, 5:55 pm

    Thx for the shout out & Dr. Oz too! 🙂

    I so agree with this! I do think being around happy people makes you happier & makes one take a better outlook on things.

    I so agree with the health part of it. When I was heavy, when I was out with heavier friends, we could all eat together & not feel bad. BUT when I was with thinner friends, no way I was going to eat. I think when we hang with people with a less healthier lifestyle & we are not to say, where I am now, it can influence us the wrong way. And often, even if you are trying, some friends unfortunately may try to sabotage you as they are fine in the place they are.

    Right now, I can be with anyone & be fine but when I was going thru the process & when I was heavier, it did make a huge difference.

    Thx for those other stats!
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Workout Towel GIVEAWAY!!!!!! =-.

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  2. Gina Fit by 41 Maybe 42
    02 March 2010, 6:33 pm

    Oh, my goodness, YES! There are so many fat people in our church. We are very social, we all live in the same neighborhood, and there’s always something going on. And it always involves FOOD! Why can’t we just feast upon the good word?!?
    .-= Gina Fit by 41 Maybe 42´s last blog ..Meal PLANNING Worksheet =-.

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    amen, sister!

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  3. Jill
    02 March 2010, 7:14 pm

    I totally agree with this article in Runner’s World and I also watched Dr. Oz’s Health Ambush videos on his website…very interesting! 🙂

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    after i read it, it made so much sense.

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  4. Kim
    02 March 2010, 8:31 pm

    I do think there is such a powerful link between food and socializing. I know I used to drink just because “everyone was doing it.” I’m not a drinker by nature. Food has been tricky for me. When I was anorexic, I would just avoid social situations because I couldn’t handle the pressure. I still feel like there is pressure around food in social situations. Often, I end up eating something that I don’t really like or want, just to fit in (or not offend someone, in the case of a meal being served to me). I’ve gotten better at listening to my body and not giving into pressures, but I still feel “weird” in some situations. It’s very easy for me to be around people with similar eating habits though. I really enjoy those experiences and find them encouraging.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i totally hear you. it’s funny how we look at it from different angles – you as a former anorexic and me as recovering compulsive eater. it’s fantastic that you have gotten better at listening to your body and not giving in to stupid social pressures! for me, I just can’t sit there with food, especially desserts, sitting on a table in front of me because i feel compelled to eat it. i should just leave the room to get away from the food, however, i don’t want to be rude. i mean, we came over to socialize, right? so i definitely relate to how you feel “weird” in certain situations. if there is no food on the table in front of me, i’m fine. but every social gathering seems to always center around food somehow. *sigh*

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  5. chrissie
    03 March 2010, 1:13 am

    I find it interesting that when we’re socializing we eat more since I would think that SINCE we’re socializing we wouldn’t eat as much since we’d be too busy talking with friends.
    .-= chrissie´s last blog ..The End… =-.

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    you would think, right? thanks for stopping by, chrissie!

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  6. Bobbie @Anonymous Fat Girl
    03 March 2010, 7:38 am

    I completely agree with this and yes it makes perfect sense. Take a look at your social circle. What is accepted and the norm? For me, it used to be smoking, drinking and eating for social events. I no longer hang with that crowd since I’ve been married and settled down, but I really think there is something to this article. Good post.
    .-= Bobbie @Anonymous Fat Girl´s last blog ..HARD WORK. PERSISTENCE. PATIENCE. KNOWLEDGE. =-.

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    it’s interesting how society works that way, isn’t it? sadly, for us eating disordered people, there will always be food at social gatherings, so there is still always that hurdle for us. 🙁

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  7. amanda
    03 March 2010, 8:41 am

    I agree 110%! When I am by myself I can eat a whole heck of a lot less. But when with others I turn into a greedy person with food.

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    YES!!! i often feel like i want to be a hermit and never go anywhere where there where the food is out of my control. but i know i can’t live my life like that, it’s just not practical. thanks for the comment, amanda.

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  8. Holly
    03 March 2010, 10:13 am

    This is a great post!!

    I completely believe this is true – about eating more with others. I won’t lie – this is a part of why I don’t go out to eat often with friends (or we’ll usually do sushi). Mostly I’m afraid of being called out for what I choose (something healthy), and feel compelled to eat something unhealthy that I wouldn’t choose on my own. Which is so silly! You should never feel forced to eat something because of how someone might think of you.
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..March Madness =-.

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i’m in the same boat – i would be quite happy to not go out and socialize so i’m not forced to deal with food issues. i like to eat in my safe home. i’m ok at a restaurant usually when there are just a few people, but parties and such where there is just food laying around for hours, that is so difficult for me. i really push myself to go because i want to continue relationships, plus my husband is a social butterfly, has no food issues and loves going to parties/hanging out. i really need to get over this and be able to socialize, but man, it’s hard.

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  9. Diana
    03 March 2010, 10:30 am

    I had heard this before, but it helps to hear it again! And, just like quitting smoking, it’s hard to be around friends that you indulged with! Just seeing them brings up the wanting of bad foods, and lots of them 🙁

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    ugh, it’s so hard! but such is society and i doubt it will ever change. *sigh*

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  10. Ameena
    03 March 2010, 4:37 pm

    I think this is a really interesting post…the amount I eat definitely depends on who I am with. My best friend eats like a trucker so when I’m with her I eat more than usual. My other friends eat like birds so when I’m with them I eat like a bird too! So silly but I can’t help myself!

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    it’s really bizarre how it happens that way, isn’t it? it’s really hard to be “good” when everyone you are with are totally going for it. thanks for stopping by ameena!

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  11. Mary Kate
    04 March 2010, 8:27 am

    I have a new group of friends who are mostly getting on the exercise/healthy eating bandwagon. The first few gatherings were all about food an exercise talk…they were asking me questions since I am a teacher at the gym. That was fine…i love sharing my love for fitness and eating. But then I felt like I was being watched for what I was eating. I hate that feeling. The more we are together the better it gets but we do tend to eat like those around us! And sometimes I catch myself eating something I didn’t want just to “level the playing field”….eating it to make other feel better about what they are eating. I do this with other things as well…i don’t like others to feel bad and guess i want make them feel better:)?

    I use to get so anxious around pot lucks or parties or when friends would come for dinner….but I can handle those situations now. It took a lot of practice and journaling…i got tired of the guilt I would feel afterwards and started living for myself and no one else. It was like I was living a lie and after those situations I would binge. Those were the moments where I felt so out of control. I had such a strong desire to eat and had no idea why. great post!

    I can see myself
    .-= Mary Kate´s last blog ..Photo Shoot…. =-.

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i hate when i feel like people are watching me eat too, mary kate. sounds like you are a very sensitive person, caring so much about others that you don’t want them to feel bad about what they are eating.
    i’m inspired that you can handle potlucks and parties now. that is still the biggest obstacle for me and i hope that i can get to where you are now. i’m not afraid of living a lie, it’s just i find it hard to control myself around all the food.

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  12. Jess
    04 March 2010, 6:08 pm

    It makes me sad to admit that I was the person pushing everyone else to eat (before I became abstinent). I didn’t want to binge alone, and I dragged people into my desperate overconsumption.

    But yes, I tend to eat more around people. I never noticed it before. Something to watch out for when my family gets together again–they are BIG eaters, and I don’t want to accidentally let my abstinence slip because I’m being whipped up in a frenzy of food!

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    love2eatinpa Reply:

    wow, that is so interesting that you can look back and realize you were deoing that. truly though, jess, who wants to feel like they are the only one overeating when they are in a group of people?
    this is still my biggest struggle, being around a lot of food with a lot of people.

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