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How Not to Overeat When You Eat Out

Be the first at the table to order.

You've decided to pick something light off the menu, but when your friend orders the decadent steak frites, you start to rethink your boring grilled salmon.

To sidestep the temptation of your friend's less healthy dish, place your order first, says Warshaw. If you can't order first, then make your decision, close the menu, and repeat your selection to yourself to help you stick to it. If you're dining at a restaurant you visit often, just ask for your favorite healthy option without ever opening the menu.

Be the last to pick up your fork.

Dining companions distract you from monitoring what you're putting in your mouth, says Wansink. His research shows that if you dine with one friend, you'll eat 35 percent more than if you'd dined alone; sit down to dinner with seven, and you'll consume 96 percent more. And when you eat out, you're usually with people you like, which ups your desire to extend the experience by, say, ordering dessert or more wine.

So pick up your fork after everyone else has started eating, and pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table, suggests Wansink. Then stop eating once you notice another person has finished his or her meal. You'll minimize your total eating time, and your slower pace will result in less food intake — plus you'll be able to focus on and enjoy the company, which is why you're dining out with friends in the first place.


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