You meal prep, eat healthy for lunch at work, and portion control your dinners – you’re incredibly disciplined when it comes to eating right to lose weight but that’s all thrown out the window when you’re with friends.
New research is warning that the temptation to overeat is stronger when you’re in social settings. University of Pennsylvania doctors say eating out with your friends and family may be the greatest sabotage when it comes to healthy eating.
They came to that conclusion after working with 150 people – 90 per cent were women – over the course of a year. Using smartphones and a custom-made app, the study participants shed light on what they were eating and how they were feeling when they made their choices.
A temptation, in the study’s eyes, was defined as eating food or an amount of food that didn’t align with a weight loss eating plan. That meant binge-eating French fries or gorging on candy at the office.
Turns out, the chances of breaking a diet were about 60 per cent when eating with other people. People also increase their risk of overeating by 60 per cent when they’re in a restaurant setting.
People are less likely to stray from their diets when they’re eating at home or even someone else’s house compared to a restaurant. They fared better when making meal decisions at work or in their cars, too.
During the study, women who weighed less than 200 pounds were given a daily target of 1,200 calories while men at that weight had a target of 1,500 calories. For women who weighed more than 200 pounds, the goal was 1,500 calories while for men it was 1,800 calories.
“Research into understanding and preventing weight regain is vital for improving the public health. Helping an individual anticipate challenges and problem-solve high-risk situations can empower them to stay on track with their weight loss and weight maintenance plan,” Dr. Laura Burke, the study’s lead author, said.
This isn’t the first time scientists shone a light on eating out as the culprit to keeping off weight.
Last year, Tufts University scientists said that the one tip they had for people watching their waistlines was to stay away from eating out.
After analyzing menus, they found that some dishes are nearly 1,500 calories – a single meal serving, without drinks, appetizers and dessert, toppled daily calorie counts.
To dissuade you even more, the scientists say you’d need “superhuman” self-control to stop yourself from eating the oversized meal restaurants set in front of you.
“These findings make it clear that making healthy choices while eating out is difficult because the combination of tempting options and excessive portions often overwhelm our self-control,” Dr. Susan Roberts, a Tufts University professor, said.
“Favourite meals often contain three or even four times the amount of calories a person needs, and although in theory, we don’t have to eat the whole lot, in practice most of us don’t have enough willpower to stop eating when we have had enough,” Roberts said.
The researchers looked at 123 restaurants and their most frequently ordered meals in three major cities: Boston, San Francisco and Little Rock, Ark. The data was collected between 2011 and 2014 by comparing the meals to USDA recommendations on serving sizes and calories.
Turns out, American, Chinese and Italian cuisines fared the worst with an average of 1,495 calories per meal.
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