Dining Do's and Don'ts

It’s not just what you eat but how you eat that can help you win at the losing game.

dining dos and donts

Do Clue Into Yourself
Eating to clean your plate can deep-six a diet. Researchers asked 133 Parisians and 145 Chicagoans how they knew when they were finished eating dinner. The leading replies from Paris: When they “were no longer hungry” or when the meal “no longer tasted good”—what study author Brian Wansink described as internal cues of satiety. The leading replies from Chicago: “When my plate’s empty” or when the TV show they were watching “was over”—external cues. However, no matter on which side of the Atlantic they resided, overweight people relied on different cues than those of normal-weight people. “They relied more on external cues,” said Wansink.

Don’t Dine Distracted
Turn off the external buzz. Get the TV out of the kitchen and keep meals away from the television. No reading material, smart phone, homework, or music with a meal—any meal. Everything you eat, even if it is just a snack, should be eaten without distractions.

Do Change Venues
Eat lunch somewhere other than your desk. “Your desk is a minefield of distractions, so chances are you’ll be multi-tasking while eating,” warns Elisa Zied, author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips. “This can not only leave you unsatisfied, but you’re also likely to eat past fullness.” Remember, the best meals are the ones that get your undivided attention. If work is front and center, then enjoying a good lunch is not. If you must dine at your desk, be sure to stop working, put your computer on sleep and your smart phone in a drawer, and concentrate on eating.

Don’t Set Yourself Up
The solution to eating less is serving yourself less, and the best way to do so, suggests Cornell’s Brian Wansink, is to downsize your dinnerware. The average dinner plate has grown in size by 22 percent over the last century. “Interestingly, this increase in plate size approximately mirrors the increase in portion size and the increase in the availability and affordability of food,” says Wansink, adding that we have become increasingly less able to accurately estimate how many calories we eat as portion sizes increase.

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