Warning: Friends Influence Your Eating Behavior [research]

Warning: Friends Influence Your Eating Behavior
There was a fascinating diet study done with the fun name of “Friends don’t let friends eat cookies.” (explored by Mary Howland, Jeffrey Hunger and Traci Mann in the journal Appetite (2012).

Here’s the cliff notes:

Your friends will influence how much food you eat – or don’t eat.

In their interesting research study, two out of three friends were secretly told to restrict tempting foods while in the presence of a third friend.

The result?

  • The third friend wound up restricting what they ate while eating with these two friends!
  • Plus, this third friend continued to restrict what they ate – even when alone.

This study reminds me of that famous Jim Rohn quote:

“You become the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

Our friends do influence a lot of our behaviors  – consciously and subconsciously.

With this in mind, Rohn’s quote could be updated to say…

“You become the same weight as the people you spend the most time with – because our friends influence how we think about food!”

There was also a recent second dieting study which reported how our friendships influence our eating habits. But in this case, this study was on overeating.

Warning: Friends Influence Your Eating Behavior
Dr. Julie Exline, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University, found that folks who are “people pleasers” tend to be vulnerable to eating more food.

If you have the characteristic of a “people pleaser” you’re more likely to eat more – in an effort to make others feel comfortable, even if…

  • you aren’t hungry
  • eating these foods make your feel uncomfortable


  • Keep in mind that you’re not only what you eat – you become who you eat with!
  • Notice if you’re eating more (or less) because of the company you keep at mealtime.
  • If you tend to be a “people-pleaser,” it’s time to become stronger when it comes to listening to your own needs.
  • Start prioritizing self-love and self-care – and mindfully eat like you love yourself.

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Karen Salmansohn (Founder)

Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.

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