Sharing a meal with friends or family is one of life’s greatest pleasures – but it can wreck any diet plans. So what’s the best way to stick to your regime?
You’re feeling full but here’s the waiter with the dessert menu. You’re about to say “No thanks” when your friend orders baked cheesecake. And soon you’re saying: “I’ll have one too, thanks.” Studies repeatedly show that what we eat is highly influenced by who we eat with. The most recent research, presented at last week’s American Heart Association meeting, found that the chance of a “diet lapse” was 60% when eating with others. The research followed 150 people trying to lose weight or keep weight off, for a year, using phones and an app to capture what and where they ate. Those in the study were asked to limit their calories. They were most successful in keeping to their diet when they ate alone. Work, with its temptations of cake for somebody’s birthday, led to a 40% chance of a diet lapse. The car was the safest place, with only a 30% chance of overeating.
But it’s annoying that dining with family or friends could make us eat more. A study of 63 adults who kept seven-day dairies found that eating with people increased meal sizes by 44% and participants ate more fat than when they ate alone. The lead researcher, US physiologist John de Castro, suggested that eating alone would reduce caloric intake and improve diets. In another study he showed that meals eaten with spouses and family had more calories and were eaten faster, while those with friends were as large but lasted longer. This was true for all meals of the day, and if men were at the table, women tended to eat more than usual. So although eating with friends or family is one of the joys of life, if you want to watch your weight, should you eat on your own?
Extract from The Guardian Online, read the full article here
Eating healthy when eating out
The key to eating out and watching your diet is to find a happy medium between enjoying yourself and enjoying healthier food options – follow these simple tips to help you keep an eye on your weight and waist when eating out:
Order small portions
Most restaurants serve oversized portions, so:
- Order half a portion or share with a friend;
- Select from the starter menu instead and order a side salad if you feel it’s not enough; or
- Just remember you don’t have to finish your meal, just eat what you want and leave the rest.
To prevent overeating, chew your food more slowly and put your knife and fork down between bites. This will help you feel fuller in a shorter period of time.
Keep away from the high fat menu options
Focus on avoiding high fat dishes as much as possible, so avoid:
- Sauces, gravies, bread toppings, salad dressing and fried foods
- Dishes with cheese, sour cream, cream, avocado and butter
- Choose grilled or baked dishes, rather than fried or roasted versions
- Ask for toppings, sauces and dressings to be served on the side; then just add sparingly yourself
Salads are an excellent choice as they are low in fat and help you to meet your vitamin and mineral requirements
Choose smart side orders
- Salad can be made into a balanced, healthy meal if it includes bread and sources of protein (low-fat cheese; tuna; chicken etc.)
- Check the contents of the salad on the menu and ask the waiter to omit certain high fat foods from your salad, such as high-fat cheeses & avocado
- Ask for the dressing to be served separately and then add it yourself sparingly and to taste
- Order whole-wheat bread instead of white bread
Order wisely at these restaurants:
- Choose vegetables in season, a salad or baked potato, rather than chips or onion rings
- Avoid cream based side dishes
- For baked potatoes and other dishes with toppings avoid butter, sour cream and cream or cheese options – try mustard, yoghurt or some grated mozzarella instead
- Steak houses steak portions are usually very big. Share a steak with a friend or order a small portion.
- Italian restaurants avoid pizzas and cream based pastas.
- Japanese restaurants and other oriental restaurants serve a variety of low fat, healthy foods. Stir-fries with noodles or rice and vegetables, beef or chicken skewers, miso soup and sushi are good options. Avoid spring rolls and deep-fried foods.