‘Tis the season—to overindulge in holiday treats. So consider this your annual reminder to watch out for that holiday creep… or expect to wake up 10 pounds heavier come January 1st. Because unfortunately, you can’t count on anyone else to do it for you.
As much as I’d like to say that friends don’t let friends fall off the wagon, science suggests quite the opposite. And if you’re not careful, your loved ones could sabotage your diet simply by sharing a table with you.
Meals taste better when you eat together
A team of British and Australian researchers recently analyzed 42 published studies on social dining. And they found that people eat significantly more when they’re with their friends and family than they do when eating alone, or in the company of strangers.1
In fact, research suggests that family dinners might increase food consumption by as much as 50 percent. So we’re not exactly talking a few extra bites here. And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
They call this phenomenon “social facilitation.” And according to scientists, it’s a remnant of our hunter-gatherer roots, when sharing food served as protection against starvation.
But there are also more obvious factors at work here. Eating with others is simply more enjoyable, for one. And tradition (especially around the holidays) openly encourages gluttony.
All of these things can derail your diet, regardless of your best intentions. So, here’s my go-to strategy for staying on track…
Beat peer pressure by planning ahead
“Social facilitation” may be a real, scientific phenomenon—but it’s also easy to sidestep simply by staying vigilant and planning ahead.
And I don’t just mean squeezing in a healthy dinner before venturing out to a minefield of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. (Though that simple act can make a huge difference in what you ultimately end up consuming!)
If you really want to be prepared, I suggest replacing one of your earlier meals with a protein shake. It’s a perfect strategy to fall back on during the holidays, when even the most disciplined dieters can find themselves surrendering to temptation.
Just make sure you choose the right protein powder to make your shakes. The best choices are whey-based, contain no added sugar, and provide no more than 7 grams of carbs per serving. (My NuLogic Nutritionals WheyLogic meets all of these standards— and it tastes delicious, too. You can find it by searching the “Shop” tab of my website, www.DrPescatore.com. But any formula that fits the bill will do.)
Keep your shakes simple by mixing the protein powder with water only (or blend it with ice for a smoothie, if you prefer). You can even throw in a tablespoon of macadamia nut oil to ward off hunger and fire up fat burning. And voila! You’re all set to tackle those holiday parties—without too much anxiety or guilt.
Ruddock HK, et al. “A systematic review and meta-analysis of the social facilitation of eating.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 Oct 1;110(4):842-861.