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People Pleasers May Over Eat

November 12, 2012, 6:06 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

People Pleasers May Over Eat

Have you ever eaten something even though you weren't hungry so you wouldn't hurt your friend or family member's feelings? You may be a people pleaser. 

While it's nice to be considerate of others, researchers warn in excessive amounts it could be bad for your health.

Austin Mielke and Lauren Anderson are known to enjoy lunch between classes.

"We actually just got out of a German class," Mielke said.

While both say they often need to refuel, they admit to eating when not hungry.

"Sometimes if you're around people you don't know as well, it could be a nervous thing. You just eat because it's there and something to do," Anderson said.

"When you're at family gatherings, especially at home, I feel obligated to eat a little bit extra when my mom cooks or something," Mielke said.

Anderson and Mielke are not alone. In fact, some people overeat on a regular basis just to keep others happy.

"A 'people pleaser' is someone who is overly concerned about making everyone else happy, so this isn't just a nice person," Augustana Assistant Professor of Psychology Anne Zell said.

Zell is researching people pleasers and how they can find peace while maintaining relationships.

"If you don't eat the pie, your friend is going to feel like a glutton because she's eating a whole bunch of the pie," Zell said.

If you are a people pleaser, you might not just eat too many sweets. Those personality traits could carry into other parts of your life.

"They are also going to be more upset if they outperform others in other domains. If you're in school, this could be grades. In a work setting, this could be being promoted above someone else," Zell said.

Zell says not being able to find a balance between striving for goals and keeping relationships can also lead to health problems.

"They're vulnerable to depression and to having other sorts of problems because they are excessively concerned with having everyone be happy with them all the time," Zell said.

So when is being a people pleaser a problem? Zell says if you're unhappy, that's a red flag. Anderson and Mielke are not too worried, but still say overeating in social situations is easy.

"If everybody else is eating, you just kind of naturally do it," Anderson said.

Zell says if you do think you have a problem, you should talk to a counselor or therapist.  She co-authored a journal article on people pleasing.

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