These days, the idea of group dieting is getting popular again. Everyone in the office goes on the same diet, workout plan, etc. It is common, and it’s meant to be fun, encouraging way to get an entire group of people to bond together and do something positive for their health. However, the question remains: does group dieting actually do anything for the individual participants? There are two main tips to make sure that it does.
This may seem obvious, but studies have shown that people are heavily influenced by peer pressure when it comes to what, and how much they eat. A person who wants a cheeseburger but is sitting at a table where everyone else is ordering a nutritious salad, is more likely to order a salad as well. The studies show that once that person is eating his food and the other people are eating theirs, the salad-eater is actually perfectly happy to be eating the salad. The perception of belonging to the group can even overcome food cravings.
However, the same holds true the other way. If one or two people decide to have a rich chocolate sundae for dessert, the entire table will feel comfortable and entitled to the same. If you are going out to lunch with coworkers or friends, make a pledge that everyone will eat healthy low calorie foods at the table, and then help each other uphold this pledge. You will be happier with a sense of belonging than you would be being the only person eating a heavy lasagna lunch at a table full of salad eaters.
It’s not enough to just see each other and talk about what you are doing to lose weight. Groups have a better success rate if they actually take the time to meet up in person and do something to help the cause. Get together once a week for a group jog around the park if you can. That’s a great way to get enthusiasm for exercise, and also gives you a fairly common reoccurring goal to keep. If you don’t want to be the one lagging behind while the group exercises, you’re going to put in more effort on your own so that you can keep up. When everyone in the group is doing the same, you have an incredibly useful exercise motivator.
Competition can also be good, but you need to keep the stakes low to stop bitterness, back stabbing, or frustration. If you meet up to exercise once a week, say that the group then goes for a quick, light lunch afterwards, and the person who lost the most weight that week (which is easy to determine if you work out near a gym) gets treated by the rest of the group. That way all of the “losers” only have to pitch in a few dollars each, at the most, and the winner gets to bask in the light of a reward for a little while.