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Food Friending: 1 Easy Way to Build Rapport in Work and Love
Madelaine Claire Weiss, LICSW, MBA, BCC -- MIndOverMatters Madelaine Claire Weiss, LICSW, MBA, BCC -- MIndOverMatters
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Washington, DC
Monday, December 6, 2021


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Food Friending

Food is everywhere. It’s that time of year. So, I am updating an earlier post on Food Friending for your use.

Who among us hasn’t heard that food is love and eating together is good for us…mind, body, and soul So, for example, students in families who eat together are generally less obese, are less prone to drug abuse, are less truant in school, get better grades, and feel closer to parents.

But we are not talking about just eating together. Here we are talking about eating the same thing together.

Our ancestors ate the same thing in the environment of evolutionary adaptation, way back when the big brain, aka The Social Brain, was forming to help us cope with the growing complexity of our social systems.

Through sharing of a single carcass we learned together about cooperation, fairness, and trust over who got what, and how we would resolve our conflicts over who got what. And, so we sat around the fire, eating together, telling stories, bonding in community to keep us safe and warm.

More recently, University of Chicago researchers found that study participants what ate like-foods reached negotiated agreements quicker than pairs who did not. And participants who ate similar foods gave more money to individuals with whom they were paired, contrasted with participants who did not.

My Food Story

As this story (in my book) and goes…  I love lamb chops. My mother did not make them too often, both because she did not like to cook and because our family did not have the means to buy too many lamb chops too often.

I grew up remembering my brother eating most if not all of the lambchops. Then, one day, not even that long ago, in no particular context, my brother said something like ‘It was always so great that you never liked lamb chops so there was always more for me’.

It was stunning to learn, not only how wrong we had both been in our perceptions, but what an opportunity was lost for our little family – to talk, to learn, to grow, to love, to build trust, to cooperate and bond together. Right there on the plate before us, the opportunity to eat the same thing together.

Workplace Fooding

In the workplace, says Ayelet Fishbach, a professor in the business school at the University of Chicago: “On a very basic level, food can be used strategically to help people work together and build trust.”

Some suggestions from the researchers for the workplace include limiting food choices at group luncheons to encourage eating similar foods, or purposely ordering food similar to the other at a business lunch.

Word of Caution

There is tons of research on all the many benefits of humans eating together. But there is also research that we tend to eat more when we are with other people too, calling it ‘social facilitation’ eating, with the following explanation:

…ancient hunter gatherers shared food because it protected against periods of food insecurity — this survival mechanism may still persist today, leading to people eating more with friends and family because:

    • Eating with others is more enjoyable and enhanced reward from social eating could increase consumption.
    • Social norms might ‘permit’ overeating in company but sanction it when eating alone.
    • Providing food becomes associated with praise and recognition from friends and family, strengthening social bonds.

One fun fact is that rats, gerbils, chickens do it too; that is, eat more together than alone. And another is that humans tend to eat more with fam and friends, and not so much with strangers. The idea here is that we are more like to be trying to impress strangers and would therefore have motivation to keep gluttony in check.

Bottom line as I see it is—it is holiday time. EAT. ENJOY. Just bear in mind that you may just be at risk of eating more than you really want or need to when you are with the ones you love. Your thought?

Warm wishes for the holidays,


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Name: Madelaine Claire Weiss
Group: MindOverMatters, LLC
Dateline: Washington, DC United States
Direct Phone: 202-285-8644
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