To recap, we use going to use the “Half Plate Habit” everywhere, chew gum while shopping, and move temptations at the office out of sight.
But many of us eat one or more meals away from home and office. What about when we eat at a restaurant? How can you use the “Half Plate Habit” when you are not in charge of plating your food?
I will offer a few simple actions. Oh, I know, you already know the trick about having the server pack up half the entrée before they even bring it to the table. That will prevent you from eating the entire meal without thinking.
(Do you do that? I don’t. I should, but I don’t.)
And we probably should order all those “heart healthy” foods. You know, those foods with the little heart logo. But do we? Not usually. Sometimes those foods just don't look appetizing, or the portions seem too small, but for whatever reason, we ignore those options.
So what can we do? I have three simple suggestions.
- One is seating location. Ask for a seat near a window or a well-lit location. When people sit in a booth, in the far corner, dark and isolated, people tend to order more and then eat more. Sitting near a window or on the outdoor patio, generally helps people make healthier choices. When you can be seen, you will usually do what you “should do.”
- The second step is when you order a meal, remember to use the “Half Plate Habit”. Instead of a starchy side dish, ask for extra vegetable or a side salad. And when the server arrives, immediately ask for a glass of water with a lemon or cucumber slice, and ask him or her to not bring the dinner roll basket.
- Lastly, you should try to limit alcohol consumption. Not only is alcohol empty calories, but one of the first effects of alcohol is to put our “decider brain” into a deep sleep. That is why we tend to eat when we drink. But if you are sitting near the window you probably will also not be sitting near the bar, so that decision will be easier.
If you really want to throw caution to the winds, and bypass everything we've learned so far, order food while sitting at a dimly lit bar, during double-bubble happy hour, and with 2 televisions going.
But if you really want to do that, we will need to have a one-on-one session.
And just a reminder, if you do not want to wait, you can listen to last week's podcast, where I list all five suggestions. The show is about 30 minutes long, and you can find it here. You can also subscribe to my podcast in iTunes (for users of Apple products) or Stitcher (non-Apple devices.)
I want to acknowledge Dr. Brian Wansink and both of his excellent books, “Mindless Eating” and “Slim By Design”. His research and more importantly, his well-written and easy to read books were the source of these suggestions.