It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.
“A new study about personality and weight confirms what anyone who has tried to balance eating well and living well knows: the people who are most likely to get invited to a last-minute luau are the same people who will have the hardest time resisting the pineapple upside-down cake.” (“How To Be Impulsive Without Gaining Weight” ; Oprah.com 8/19/2011)
This is something I have always known to be true. And this is why making friends and staying trim are at odds.
As I’ve mentioned on this blog, while my quest added friends, it also added pounds. This is because we tend to eat more–as much as 96 percent more!–when eating with other people. (Refresher: We consume 35 percent more when eating with one other person [besides a spouse], a table for four equals 75 percent more, and a party of at least seven translates to 96 percent. No joke.) But it’s not just about eating with people. It’s also about wanting to the be the light-hearted, so-much-fun-to-hang-out-with, lets-invite-her-along friend. This type of pal, like it or not, is usually the person happy to sip a drink or indulge in some nachos at your barbecue. Not the person who refuses to eat carbs, and, though unintentionally, makes you feel guilty about your indulgence. Or the person who takes 45 minutes to order her meal because she’s making up her own dish.
According to researchers, of all personality traits, it’s impulsitivity that best indicates likelihood to be overweight. (Impulsivity = that friend who’ll accept an invitation on a whim. To brunch, a road trip, what have you.)
“Participants who scored in the top 10 percent on [impulsivity] weighed an average of 22 pounds more than those in the bottom 10 percent. Compared to participants of normal weight, the overweight and obese participants were more impulsive—and warm, and assertive. They were also more likely to seek out excitement and prefer to be around others. Alternatively, those people who scored high on conscientiousness (aka, the task-focused, efficient, dutiful and organized) tended to be leaner.”
I’m a fairly average weight for my height, a product of much working out in response to my constant friend-seeking food intake. My average-ness is also a product of sometimes being the un-fun one–the girl who might not join in for a weeknight beer, or go on an spontaneous trip to the wine bar because she’s been planning to cook a turkey meatloaf. On an impulsivity scale, I probably rank fairly low.
It seems an unfair tradeoff, but one that I’m not sure has a solution. On the days I get frustrated about having put on a few LBs, I try to remind myself that better friendships will most definitely make me happier than being a few inches smaller. That one’s scientifically proven too–40% of a person’s happiness is dictated by relationships. Weight loss has no such effect.
What say you? Have you had to make the sociability for weight trade-off before? Is it a fair one? Or do you think a strict diet and a fun and friendly lifestyle can coexist?