Eating healthy or showing off? How women and men change their food preferences on dates

Do you struggle with what to order when you are on a date? Well, it seems that women and men change food preferences when they eat in the presence of someone they consider attractive.

2018.09.11 | Merete Elmann

Dating someone new can be difficult. You have to choose clothes that fit you well, think of conversation topics that give you the opportunity to display wit and charm, and order the right type of food once you get to the restaurant. While preferences for clothes and conversation topics are unique for all of us, new research suggests that women’s and men’s food preferences change according to a pattern when they are on a date at the restaurant.

According to this study, women who eat in the presence of men they find attractive are less willing to spend money on foods they consider unhealthy, and they are more likely to order healthy foods. On the other hand, the presence of attractive women does not influence men’s preferences between healthy or unhealthy foods – but less expensive and more expensive foods. For men who prefer eating regular foods instead of expensive ones, when they are facing attractive women, tend to order more expensive foods and drinks in an attempt to display their status.

Neither of the behaviours presented above occurs when men and women eat with same-sex individuals, which indicates that mate attraction is the underlying motive for these changes. This study concludes that the mere presence of attractive men and women can influence someone’s food preferences.

So, based on this study, you might want to ask yourself if you are really into ordering something different or if you simply want to impress someone before placing an order next time you eat in a restaurant. Who knows, maybe ordering your regular food can be as good as ordering different to impress your date or the attractive waiter next to you.

Featured Author

Tobias Otterbring

Receive a free copy of this publication

Research news