You’re more likely to choose healthier food when you’re with strangers: Here’s why

People tend to eat healthy food in the presence of strangers

Healthy eating can be a way to make a positive first impression. Do you eat healthier in the presence of strangers?

A healthy diet accompanied by regular exercise is essential for optimal health and well-being. Being active and eating healthy can also keep lifestyle diseases at bay, including heart disease and diabetes, and thus increase longevity. But most of us struggle to maintain a healthy diet. We also can’t deny that it’s hard to resist the temptation of junk foods, which are usually high in calories, unhealthy fats, and sugars. Eating out? There is one situation where you are more likely to make a healthy food choice. This is when you are with strangers.

A new study reports that people choose healthy food in the presence of strangers because they fear being judged negatively for their choices.

The study, which was co-authored by the Bayes School of Business, found that having members of different friendship groups or social groups influences people’s food choices. The authors said that this occurs because individuals expect more negative judgments from strangers.

What determines your food choices?

For the study, the researchers spoke to nearly 1,000 individuals from different ethnicities, universities, and fields of work. They found that participants were more likely to choose a healthy snack in the presence of a different observer (as opposed to the same race) or one from a different university (as opposed to theirs).

This was because people feel that outside group members are highly judged and strategically use healthy food choices to create a positive impression to counteract this negative judgment.

Four separate trials also showed similar results.

Eat healthy to make a positive first impression

Based on these findings, the researchers suggested that one way to promote a healthy diet could be to advertise the social benefits of healthy choices.

“We know that food plays an important role in social life, and consumers often make inferences about the traits and characteristics of others based on their food choices. Our research shows that we can use this important role of food for consumer well-being if we highlight healthy food,” said Dr. Janina Steinmetz. , the assistant professor (reader) of marketing at Bayes, as quoted by Science Daily, says that it is not only beneficial to consumers, but also helps them persuade others.

Dr. Steinmetz concluded that healthy eating is not only good for you and your health, but also for making a positive impression.

Dr. Steinmetz noted that health food marketers and policy makers can use this strategy to promote healthy eating.

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