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Overcome Super Bowl Day Social Pressure with Healthy Snacks

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The all-day empty calorie feast that happens each year around the Super Bowl can be a challenge for anyone concerned about his or her waist, hips and thighs. That’s especially true if you are a “people-pleaser,” says a new Case Western Reserve University study.

The research showed that hungry or not, some people eat in an attempt to keep others comfortable.

“They don’t want to rock the boat or upset the sense of social harmony,” says Julie Exline, a Case Western Reserve psychologist and lead author of the study, published today in the journal Social and Clinical Psychology.

That could be a big problem in a social setting such as a Super Bowl party. Turning down snacks when others are indulging is tough for everyone, but it poses a special problem for people-pleasers, Exline said.

“If people-pleasers feel a sense of social pressure to eat, they will often eat more in an attempt to match what others around them are eating.” But this often comes at an emotional price.

"Those who overeat in order to please others tend to regret their choices later. It doesn't feel good to give in to social pressures," Exline says.

The Calorie Control Council and Snack Food Association forecast Americans will eat 30 million pounds of snacks on the big game day, including 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, 4.3 million pounds of pretzels, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn and 2.5 pounds of nuts.

If you do the math, the average armchair quarterback will consume 1200 calories and 50 grams of fat from snacking alone.

The Council's research shows snacking on potato chips, the most popular nosh, will account for 27 billion calories and 1.8 billion grams of fat. To put that in context, 1.8 billion grams of fat is equal to the weight of 13,000 NFL offensive linemen at 300 pounds each.

Exline’s study looked at the eating habits as a way of determining how the same behaviors that affect food consumption can surface in other areas of the individual’s life.

People-pleasers feel more intense pressure to eat when they believe that their eating will help another person feel more comfortable,” Exline said.

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