Distractions in the environment—such as reading, playing on the computer or watching television— prevent you from keeping track of your food intake. Studies show that eating while watching TV or playing a computer game impairs your memory for how much you’ve eaten and leads you to overeat at your next meal. Another study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that people who ate lunch while listening to a detective story ate significantly more than those who were fully focused on eating. Why? Distraction diminished their self-restraint.
Tricks to Beat the Restaurant Bloat
Check out the restaurant’s menu online and make a reservation. This allows you to pick a healthy option before you’re too starved to make wise choices and cuts down on waiting time at the restaurant, which only breeds temptation. “While you wait, you’re highly influenced by the smells and the foods you see,” says Kirkpatrick.
Since you rarely chow on a fancy appetizer at home, stick with the same straightforward eating style at restaurants. “Rather than ordering an appetizer and a main meal, order one thing at a time,” suggests Kirkpatrick. “Wait 15 minutes and then ask yourself if you really want to order an entrée. Often one appetizer at a restaurant will be totally sufficient for dinner.”
If you do opt for an entrée, Sheri Pruitt, Ph.D., the director of Behavioral Science Integration at Kaiser Permanente, recommends portioning out your meal before you dive in, and then asking your waiter to put the rest in a to-go box (or put it in the fridge if you’re dining at home). Kirkpatrick recommends going one step further to prevent overindulging: When you order, ask the waiter to box up half of your entrée before serving it to you. “It takes away the opportunity for you to continue to pick at your plate,” says Kirkpatrick. “And you won’t see what you’re missing.”
To fight portion distortion, swap out your short, wide glassware for narrow, tall glasses and use smaller, salad plates, which trick your mind into thinking you’re eating more food than you actually are.
Your waistline will thank you.
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