Christmas is almost here and New Year’s round the corner. It’s time to shop, party and eat out every other day. We all know that we must order sensibly when eating out but did you know that little things like the restaurant you choose and the sequence of ordering when eating out with friends can affect your calorie count?
Go for a dimly lit place over a loud food court: Yes, even if romance is not on the cards! The reason is that candlelight and jazz lead people to eat about 18% less – translating into about 120 fewer calories per meal – as compared to bright and loud surroundings. Brian Wansink, the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, says that the relaxed atmosphere slows down chewing, and “you end up taking an average of eight minutes longer to eat”.
When out with friends, always order first: This way, you’re more likely to choose a meal/option that’s in line with your healthy-eating goals. Groups of people tend to select similar items; so if a friend calls for double cheese pizza, chances are that the rest of the gang will lean in. If you order a green salad with a soup first off, you won’t be swayed. Men need to remember this as they tend to overeat when dining out with women.
Two’s company, so follow that rule: The rule of three may rule elsewhere but when dining out, the rule of two helps you score. Let yourself choose a reasonable main course/entrée and pair it with only two other things to eat and drink. If you want bread and a glass of wine, skip the starters and dessert. If you choose a wine and dessert, your main course should be a salad. People who use the rule of two end up eating about 25 per cent less as it makes you think about what you’re ordering or eating.
Veggies come first, everything else follows: When at a buffet, make it a habit of surfing the salad table first. Why? A Cornell University study has shown that the three foods you see first at a buffet end up comprising about 66% of the food you take back to your table. If you start with the salads, most of that 66% will be healthy. And low cal!
Cut down on your meat intake: A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics revealed that vegetarians tend to be generally thinner and healthier than meat eaters. It may not be possible to give up mean completely but you can slim down a meal by replacing some meat with plant protein. Try replacing ground beef, keema or small chunks of meat with black beans, mushrooms or soya chunk
Ask for a hot and spicy serving: Adding an extra dash of chilies to your food may prevent overeating. Research conducted earlier this year and published in the journal PLOS ONE shows that capsaicin, the molecule in chili that delivers the “hot” sensation, can indicate if you’re overeating and can make you stop by creating the feeling of “being full”. This translates into eating lesser food and not piling on the pounds.
Shun the silverware and choose chopsticks: You may not be so adept at eating with chopsticks but practice till you’re passable. This strategy helps you consume way lesser food than standard silverware as it’s impossible to shovel food into your mouth. Chopsticks slow you down, let you pick up smaller bites and make end up making you eat lesser food.
Out of sight is out of mind: Being within eyesight of a banquet of food isn’t a good idea. Brian Wansink, the author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, has written that people have a “see food” diet: “You see food and you eat it just because it’s there.” Being in close proximity of the buffet spread makes you eat 15 per cent more, his research has shown. “Seeing it fills your thoughts with food,” he says. “And watching people return to a buffet makes you think it’s more normal to go for seconds, thirds, and fourths,” he adds. So pick up your plate and sit at a table that looks out of the window instead.
Mind your table manners: People who place a napkin on your lap when eating out usually have a healthier body mass index as compared to those who don’t, Cornell University researchers have found. “That’s because using a napkin reflects good table manners, and careful eaters often pay more attention to what they’re eating—and, as a result, how many calories they’re consuming,” Wansink says. So keep dining etiquette in mind when eating out!