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Healthy Surroundings

Healthy Surroundings

Unless you specifically order from the list of entrees highlighted as “healthy," it’s probable you’re getting more calories than you need in an average sitting. A good rule of thumb is almost always to eat half and take the rest home—enough to taste, with no waste! But it's not that easy for some people, and it turns out a restaurant’s ambience and non-food features can contribute to your overeating.
Yes, there are actually studies out there on “food ambience,” meaning the lighting, the setting, even the plate you’re eating from, and how those factors affect your intake. Here are a few factors that stand out and how you can counteract their “eat eat eat!” mantra:
1. Lights: The fast-food chains have got it down pat. Bright lights actually cause your nervous system to speed up, resulting in overeating. No matter how hard it may seem at first, keep telling yourself to eat slowly!

2. Temperature: The higher the temperature, the less you will eat because your metabolism slows down. In the summer months, take advantage of outdoor seating.

3. Tableware: Pay attention to the size of the plates and glasses used. Do they resemble those at home or are they much larger? Just because there’s one plate in front of you does NOT mean there’s only one serving in front of you!

Think about your favorite restaurants for a moment. Do any of the above sound like familiar ambience factors? Do you tend to eat more at particular places? [Health Magazine]

Posted: 10/9/08

As far as temperature goes, I've heard the opposite is also true: When restaurants are on the colder side, it spurs you into eating more than you need. (I don't remember why, but I'm assuming it's because colder weather speeds up your metabolism.) So if you're eating inside, you might want to bring a jacket. On a related note, I wonder if this explains why movie theaters are always so cold! Are they trying to make us eat more popcorn and candy?


There is something to be said for ambiance...I do linger over dinner and eat less if my senses aren't as "frazzled". The last point about portions is so true, often there's three meals worth of food on the plate, at least!

  • By Eva1873
  • on 10/10/08 9:29 AM EST

Aha! Now I know why Carvel is so bright. It's better for their bottom line if you order a banana split rather than a single scoop.