Ever wondered why a long due fam-jam makes your stomach burst with food? Well, there's a legit reason behind it and its called 'social facilitation.' Yes, you read it right!
A study conducted by the researchers at University of Birmingham has found that eating in the presence of your family and friends has a powerful effect on increasing your food intake, whereas one does not eat a lot when dining alone.
After evaluation of 42 existing studies related to social dining, experts at the University of Birmingham found that eating 'socially' makes you munch more. The results of the study conducted were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study suggests that those who ate up to 48 percent more food than solo diners were eating socially. And they eat about 29 percent more with family and friends as compared to when eating alone. Researchers have explained how ancient hunter-gatherers used to share food and suggests that their survival mechanism still exists and this is what forces us to eat more with the people we love.
The study also highlighted that humans or homo sapiens as a species share a common food resource. While we are no longer hunters or gatherers, our dietary behaviour is guided by mechanisms which used to exist in the nomadic era. The study indicates that the 'social facilitation' effect is a result of the 'evolutionary mismatch', which has erupted because of the rapid transition to a dietary landscape in which food is abundant. This behaviour is observed because inherited foraging strategies no longer serve the purpose they did, initially.
The study found out three main reasons behind us eating more with family and friends.
1. We enjoy more while we are eating with others as compared to eating alone, which leads to increased consumption.
2. Providing food to others makes you earn brownie points. You get praise and recognition from friends and family that results in strengthening social bonds.
3. Social norms tend to encourage overeating in the company of friends and family.
Dr Ruddock, one of the researchers noted that we have inherited a mechanism that though initially ensured an equitable food mechanism but now also exerts an influence on making unhealthy eating choices. He says that this has created a tension between how an individual is 'seen' to share food vs how much he/she eats as per what they need. He further noted, "A solution to this tension may be to eat at least as much as others in the group - individual members match their behaviour to others, promoting a larger meal than might otherwise be eaten in the absence of this social competition".