An interesting thought to ponder, isn’t it? The idea that your dining companions could affect how much you eat. It’s true! New research has found that dining with someone who is overeating makes you more likely to overeat.
For example, you dish up equal portions for yourself and your spouse at dinner one evening. Halfway through your portion, you start to feel full. Your spouse, however, continues to eat until their portion is completely gone. This encourages you to clean your plate too!
So what do we do? Eating alone is not enjoyable, and can foster unhealthy eating habits, as well. The biggest key is portion control. Simply provide the same appropriate portion for each diner. That way, if everyone finishes their plate, there’s no guilt. (Just don’t go back for seconds!)
We must also communicate our goals and needs to those around us. Now, that doesn’t mean you should evaluate the eating habits of the couple at the table next to you at a restaurant, but rather to talk with your personal dining companion(s) about your goals of healthful eating.
Keep in mind that playing the blame game never ends well for anyone. Make the conversations about your goals, rather than the ways your companion(s) may be unknowingly sabotaging those goals.
For example, instead of “Every time you finish your plate, I finish mine too, so you need to eat less” try something like “I’m trying to be more mindful of my eating habits, and wanted to talk with you about my goals because I’ll be more successful with your support.”
It is true that cooking meals at home gives you far more control over ingredients, as well as, portion size. It can be more difficult to control yourself when eating out.
If you know where you’ll be dining ahead of time, look up their menu online. By already having a few options in mind, you’ll be less likely to order something spontaneously without considering the nutritional impact.
Try to eat the same sized portions that you would at home. The restaurant serving will most likely be far too large, so put the excess in a container to take home. (Be watchful for menu words like jumbo, deluxe, and super-sized, as they mean larger portions and higher calories.)
Skip the bread. Many restaurants serve a basket of bread for the table after you are seated. Respectfully decline the bread when your server offers; this leaves room in your belly for more nutritious options, and avoids spiking your blood sugar before the meal even arrives.
If there are different cuts of protein available, go for the 6 oz. filet instead of the 36 oz. Porterhouse. Also, ask for your meat or fish to be grilled, baked, or broiled instead of fried.
Don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions. Instead of French fries or a baked potato, request a salad, or a double-serving of green beans or asparagus. If the substitution item you prefer is not available, simply ask your server to leave the fries or potato off your plate.
Ask for salad dressings and entree sauces to be served on the side. You’ll use less this way.
Check if the ingredients you want are available, even if they’re not on the menu. For example, oil and vinegar for your salad can be brought to you easily, but may not be listed on the menu under salad dressing options.
A salad bar can be a wonderful way to get full on exactly the items you like. Choose spinach or mixed greens over iceberg lettuce to up the nutrition factor of your salad. Toppings like bell peppers, onion, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, jalapenos, and olives are all great options. Toss your salad with olive oil to add healthy fat, and top with grilled chicken or chick peas to add some protein.
Hitting the buffet? First, hit the brakes. Take a walk through of all the offerings before making your selections. Other research found that people take larger portions of the foods placed at the beginning of the buffet line, even more so when those dishes are unhealthy. Know the locations of the healthier options before you begin to fill your plate.
Humans are social creatures, and many of our good times with family and friends involve eating together. Food is fuel for the body, but can also be fuel for the soul. Food can (and should) be enjoyable! Instead of being overwhelmed by the influence of others, identify your goals and stick with them. Your blood sugar and overall health could depend on it!