New research promises to shed light on why we eat how we eat, and whether or not the gender of our dining companions really influences our food choices that much.
The results of the small study will appear in the Journal of Applied Psychology, and some of them may surprise you.
Not surprisingly, women eat less when they're around men, presumably due to social conventions that require us to be delicate little songbirds around men or because we have an evolutionary drive to one day team up with them to enter Finland's Wife Carrying Championships.
What researchers found interesting, however, was the fact that when men eat with women, they tend to load up their plates with more calories than they'd snarf down around other dudes. When men eat with other men, they put an average of 952 calories on their plates. When the ladies were around, though, the face-stuffing began. Men eating with women selected an average of 1162 calories worth of food. Two hundred more calories of food per meal, at least two meals per day, seven days per week... if men ate only with women and always consumed 200 more calories per meal around them and did not exercise, according to our calculations, they'd gain about 125,000 pounds per year. Why is this?
Participants in the study claimed that they had not consciously taken their dining partner's gender into consideration when loading up on food, which means that something subconscious is driving them to chow down. And since this is the kind of thing that evolutionary psychologists love to take and run with for several frenzied miles, we figured we'd try our hands at coming up with some possible caveman-based bullshit explanations for this behavior ourselves.
So, why do men eat more calories when they're around women than when they're around men?
- Men tend to consume more calories around women because they know that women will eventually ask them to go cave-shopping, and men hate cave-shopping. Eating extra food around them is a subconscious attempt to gain enough weight that the caveladies are embarrassed to take them out in public.
- Prehistoric times were very dangerous for people, and filled with predators. Men eat more around women because they want the women to know that if a predator ever came up to them and brandished a switchblade, the men could eliminate the threat by eating the predator.
- Cavemen were chronically embarrassed about their lack of muscle mass, caveladies refused to mate with men deemed too scrawny. Thus eating large amounts of food in front of caveladies was a way for them to cram for the muscle mass exam and make themselves as mate-with-able as possible in as short a time as possible.
- Men eat more around women because they have a natural drive to want the women around them to be slender and therefore beautiful, so they hog the food.
- Oral fixation. Yes, in a cavegay way.
- In olden days, mammoth eating contest winners were regarded very highly in society, like the doctors or lawyers of today. Men eat more around women because they want women to think that they might someday win some sort of binge eating contest and thus be better providers.
- Bad manners.