Thursday, April 21, 2011

Are We What We Eat? ... Or What Our Friends Eat?

Hey lovelies!

I read an article yesterday that I found SO interesting!! It was called "Why Looking at Overweight People Makes Us Want to Eat More, Not Less". The article talks about a recent study where they show people of all different fitness levels, averaging 25 years old, different pictures including pictures of:

-Fat people
-Thin people
-Fat people eating
-A neutral image such as a tree



They then offered the participant candy to thank them for their time. They found that the those who looked at the picture of an overweight woman, took significantly more candy (averaging 2.2 pieces) than the person who looked at the picture of a thin woman or the neutral object (1.5 pieces). Obviously this was a subconscious thing, which goes back to something I have mentioned before about how food is SUCH a mind game!! This experiment was also done with cookie taste testing, yielding the same results.



Interestingly though, when participants were shown a picture of a fat person EATING, they took less candy (or cookies) than the individuals who were shown a picture of just an overweight person. Why is this??!

Well according to the study, it derives from stereotypes. We, as humans, automatically and subconsciously label certain actions with certain individuals i.e. fat people eat a lot; Chinese people are good at math, an African American with baggy pants uses all slang when he/she speaks etc...



And with those stereotypes, people begin to conform to act like this person without even knowing they are doing it.

A direct quote from this article - "...college students' scores on general knowledge questions increased after exposure to a professor but decreased after exposure to a supermodel."



One more thing about the article and then I will get to my own opinion: 
In the beginning, it also explains that studies show that people with close friends who are obese,  are 171% more likely to become obese themselves!! This blew my mind!

Okay so here are my thoughts on this::: 

1. This really shocked me but the more I thought about it, the more I actually understood. I have been there! I would see a close family member or a friend who didn't put thought into what they eat and I, in turn, would do the same. I would overindulge because I was surrounded be people doing the same. I didn't do this consciously, but I can definitely relate!

2. On this journey, we need to really stay focused. It is so easy to fall into a trap and pick up 3 pieces of candy instead of 1.. or NONE! But if we want to be successful, we must learn self control.

In the beginning of this semester at school, my teacher passed around a bag of candy while people did problems on the board. Knowing that I would too easily take the candy, I made sure I was one of the students doing the problem on the board and let the candy bag pass right by my chair. Conscious awareness! This is crucial. 

3. How can we change this?? One change in the study came when the surveyors asked the participants to write down their health goals for 3 minutes. When the participants did this, they took the same amount of candy whether they looked at the fat person or the thin person. If we are always consciously thinking about our health goals then it is less likely that our subconscious "overeating" habits will take over.

I make it a point to talk about my goals every single day.. whether on Facebook, to my mom, to my boyfriend, whoever.. not only does this keep my goals in the forefront of my mind at all times, but also holds me accountable for my actions!!

-As far as the friends thing goes.. this really had an impact on me. I want to be the friend who sets the trend to eat healthy, not the friend who follows the trend to pig out! I believe that I am doing this already in that many of my friends have seen my weight loss progress and made changes to their life because they were inspired by me. I hope to continue to do this for people! When I go out to eat now with friends, I will make a conscious effort to be the "Food Leader".

I think this also goes for exercise. Set the trend! Exercise is a GOOD thing.. not a dreaded task that must be done. I always rave about new exercises (Now! ... if you would have talked to me 6 months ago, I would not be telling you the same thing!) but I do this 1) because I love to exercise and 2) in hopes to inspire others to get up and get active!

I hope you got something out of this! Check out the article on Time Healthland - A Healthy Balance of the Mind, Body, and Spirit

Love,
Krystle

2 comments:

Ashley said...

and alot of times with families a lot of overweight... my mom, dad and brother are bigger too... and wen ant moved into our house he gained weight... so i get the part about being around the people...

Alzabees said...

Krystle, I came to your blog today to read your entry about graduation. I was peeking around at other stuff and found this one! All I can say is "WOW!" I have known that who we hang around with when eating is a factor but never realized it was so important. I love how you share your strategies for shifting the tide. You are so good at sharing your story in a way that makes it totally approachable to your readers. - Alzabees

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