I've been having chats with women about their experiences dining out with coworkers and clients, and I found it intriguing how they make their food decisions based on what they think other people will think of them.
Vanessa, a marketing specialist, said that whenever she is out with clients, she always orders a salad because she doesn't want anyone to think that she makes unhealthy choices.
Katie (who works as a PR rep) said that when she's out for dinner with clients, there's almost always a set menu, and she feels compelled to eat everything so as not to appear ungrateful (even if she doesn't like the food or isn't really hungry).
And Tara, who was the only woman working alongside men in an investment firm, felt that she had to order the steak like all the other men, so she would fit in and not draw attention to herself.
When you're in a job where you have to be a people-person, image is definitely important. You've probably spent a lot of time working on how you want to present yourself so you can advance your career - and likability is a key factor.
But the question that pops into my mind is: Does it really matter what food choices you make in front of clients?
Let's say you grabbed some coffee with a real-estate agent. If she orders a donut, would that make you change your mind about renting an apartment?
Do you trust a banker with your money any less, if you see her eating pasta?
Do you think an event planner will get a demotion if she has a slice of pizza?
It makes me wonder if we associate Unhealthy = Untrustworthy
So, where do these thoughts come from?
Well, it's likely because you've spent years observing other people and making judgements about what you think a successful, trustworthy person does. And, since you have made judgements about them, you assume that they'll make the same judgements about you.
No one's forcing you to choose something on the menu that you don't like, or to finish your plate when you're not hungry.
It'll likely make you even better in your professional and personal life if you get more comfortable with making decisions that feel right to you. Because even if someone might make a comment on the fact that you didn't order the chicken, they probably couldn't care less about what you eat as long as you aren't taking away their own food.
What about you? What are your thoughts on dining out with coworkers and clients? Do you relate to any of these women? Leave a comment - I really want to hear more on this!
Don't let overthinking your self-image get in the way of finding the eating pattern that works for you :)