What is social competitive eating? Although you may not be aware of it, it is what almost every single girl does, or talks about multiple times a day, without even realizing it. Let me illustrate with a few examples:
At a meal:
“What are you getting?”
“I don’t know what are you getting?”
“I’m still deciding, you order first”
“I’ll have a salad, with the dressing on the side”
“No way! That was what I was going to get! I’ll have the same thing”
“I haven’t eaten all day cause I knew we were going out to Fuji tonight” or
“All I’ve had today is a Chobani and an apple. I need to make up for my late-night Dominoes slice of pizza…I feel so fat!”
At a pregame:
“I purposely ate a salad so I wouldn’t have to drink as much tonight, and because I wanted to save the calories”
How many times have you participated in or overheard one of these conversations? Chances are you can list at least three times within the last few days because without knowing it, it seems like every single college-aged girl does it.
Because of conversations like this, what you eat starts to become a subconscious competition between your friends, even if you don’t realize it. Although it is natural to notice what people around you are eating, the amount of focus we put on food and what we eat in everyday conversations with friends is ridiculous. These conversations have a huge impact on what you eat, and they also introduce a side of guilt with every single piece of food you put into your mouth.
Sure, you may say this is an exaggeration, but take time to think back on a time you let one of your friends influence what you eat or made you feel guilty about the late night Jimmy John’s you ordered while they nibbled on some carrots.
Conversations like these are both useless and destructive for a few reasons.
1. You don’t always know what other people eat throughout the day.The reason your friend may be ordering a salad for dinner may be because two hours ago she stuffed her face with a delicious Refectory feast.
2. Everyone has different metabolisms and requires a different amount of food. Even if you are the exact same size as someone else, that doesn’t mean that your metabolisms are even close. Some girls just naturally need more food than others. You could be 5 inches shorter than your friend and eat her under the table on a daily basis without ever gaining weight.
3. No one except for you knows your hunger cues.Basic rule: eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full. Don’t starve yourself, but don’t stuff yourself into a food coma.
4. It makes you feel guilty about what you eat.Eating healthy is important and yes, there are some times when it’s fair for you to feel guilty about what you’ve eaten. For example, if all you’ve eaten in a day is junk food and candy, feeling food guilt is 100% justified. However, occasional indulgences are normal and you should never feel guilty about them. Once you start packing on the guilt, the more you are going to crave the food, and the more you’re going to binge on it when you finally give into the desire. Well, either that, or the next time you’re drunk the piece of pizza you’ve denied yourself of all week will turn into half a pizza.
Completely stopping all the food talk and comparisons is an unrealistic goal. The society we live in today is not only full of competition in all walks of life, but also emphasizes the importance of eating healthy, avoiding junk food and losing weight. What we can do is become aware of when we are allowing food to dominate both our thoughts and conversations, and try to redirect them to more important topics, such as who went home with whom after your mixer last night.
Take the sage advice #whatweshouldcallme offers about what to do when a friend starts a diet: