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Do Women Eat Differently Around Men?

By Michelle May, M.D.

woman eating saladA recent study published in the international journal Appetite showed that college-aged women eat more restrictively when dining with men. Surprise!

My interpretation is that the results indicate that these women have been ingrained with the message to restrict their eating in order to appear attractive. Dieting, portion control, and healthy eating are seen by Westernized societies as virtuous.

Paradoxically, this restrictive behavior may actually backfire because restriction and deprivation often lead to cravings, bingeing, overeating, and guilt. I call this the eat-repent-repeat cycle.

My friend, Esther Kane, MSW, author of It’s Not About the Food: A Woman’s Guide to Making Peace with Food and Our Bodies agrees. Read her comments in this article on Demo Dirt, Eat, Drink, and Be Wary.

What do you think? Do you eat differently around men – and what are the consequences? Does your age matter? Does your relationship status matter?


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

One Comment

  1. esther kane says:

    Hi Michelle,
    I totally agree with you and I love how you’ve named this the Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. Such a great description of how we, as women, punish ourselves with food. Your book (which I’m devouring at present) gives us the tools to break this vicious cycle and adopt a much saner and peaceful approach to eating.
    Esther Kane, MSW

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