How to Control Overeating at Restaurants

Diet & Fitness, Food & Drink, Health, Lifestyle

There are many reasons why it’s much easier to overeat when you’re out at a restaurant—learn how to not allow that to be an excuse!

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Fresh-cooked food, friends, and delicious drinks are just a few reasons we overeat.  When people go out to dinner with a group of friends to “catch up,” what they are actually putting in their bodies is at the very back of their minds.

For one, calories are usually not listed in restaurant menus, so most people don’t really pay any attention to that when choosing a meal.  While many fast food and chain restaurants already do or plan to soon include calorie counts on their menus, the lack of this information is a major contributor to overeating.

Some people tend to think of going out to eat at a restaurant as a “splurge.”  Therefore, they’ll spend more money than they usually would, and will consequently overeat.  Especially if they are eating in big crowds, they will order more food than they realistically need.  If the food is on the table, the goal is to clean the plate.  No one likes to waste food.

Also, most people don’t go out to eat alone.  You’ll usually find either couples dining, or large groups of friends having a get together over a meal.  When this happens, people tend to become so absorbed in conversation, that they may not even realize they are overeating.

Having lunch or dinner in a restaurant should be a positive and fun experience, but when we think of what’s really going on behind the scenes, it takes some of the enjoyment out of it.  There are ways to fix the problem of overeating.

Researchers at the University of Texas have developed a theory called “Mindful Restaurant Eating.”  In a study, researchers taught women to pay close attention to what they were eating and how they were feeling, with the goal of feeling satisfied with smaller portions.

Gayle Timmerman, an associate professor of nursing and lead author of the study, says, “Going out to eat has become a major part of our culture.  Frequently eating out and consuming high-calorie foods in large portions at restaurants can contribute to excess calorie intake and weight gain.  But just saying, ‘Don’t eat out’ isn’t feasible.  You can’t just say, ‘Choose the steamed vegetables.’  People aren’t going out to eat for steamed vegetables.  They’re going out to eat for something they’re not getting a home.”

Some of the tips to decrease overeating discussed in this study included ideas like requesting that a “to-go” box be delivered with your meal.  Eat half the meal, then take the other half home to eat the next day for lunch.  Ask for dressings and butter to be presented on the side, so you can control how much you are including with your meal.  Sharing a meal with a friend is also a good idea to avoid overeating.  Last but not least, you should be mindful of what you’re eating and savor every bite!

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