Even though children are able to enjoy the relaxing days of summer vacation, the summer months can be a little more hectic for us adults. It’s tempting during a busy workweek to simply cut yourself some slack and go out to eat, which is an understandable reality for most Americans.
However, not only can eating out make a significant dent in our wallets, but it also comes with some hidden costs on our overall health. According to a recent article featured on MSN, the average American eats out at restaurants five times a week, which can significantly impact your health as there are more than 1,100 calories in a typical restaurant meal.
Here’s a list of seven simple ideas and tricks to eating healthy when eating out:
- Use the buddy system. Peer pressure can affect practically any aspect of our lives, and eating out at restaurants is no exception. We tend to order the same type of food as the people we are with, so try and eat out with people who will go for the healthier options on the menu.
- Use a romantic setting to your advantage. Not only do these type of restaurants provide a great atmosphere, but they also limit how much food you intake. According to a recent study conducted by the University of Illinois, replacing bright lights and loud music with the dim lighting and soft music that’s often found in romantic restaurants results in diners eating 18 percent less food.
- Sit near a window. This may be the most surprising secret out of the whole list. Cornell University’s director of the Food and Brand Lab Brian Wansink, PhD, found that diners ordered more fish and fewer desserts when sitting at high-top tables and were 80 percent more likely to order salads when sitting in front of a window.
- Don’t sit close to the bar. As it turns out, sitting close to a bar causes you to not only consume more drinks but also more food during that meal and later on in the day as well. The same research team from Cornell University found that on average, diners sitting within two tables of the bar drank three more drinks than those sitting three or more tables away.
- Ask for a tall glass. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research revealed that bartenders pour 27 percent more alcohol into shorter glasses, so by ordering a tall glass, you’re still able to enjoy your favorite drink without consuming an abundance of calories.
- Watch out for buffets. Although buffets are delicious, it can be extremely difficult to ignore your cravings when you’re faced with endless options. Interestingly enough, a 2013 study showed that “the first three food items a person encountered in the buffet comprised 66 percent of their total plate,” so head to the healthy end of the buffet first.
- Think in miles. Restaurants are increasingly placing calorie counts right on the menus, but thinking in miles is more effective according to a 2014 study. Jogging one mile burns approximately 100 calories, which can be a helpful thought process when you’re deciding between a 500 and an 800-calorie meal.
Eating out can be a nice break from cooking, but be aware of its impact on your health. Making these simple conscious decisions could go a long way in making healthy choices while dining at your favorite restaurant.