Shed Pounds at the Dining Table
David Zinczenko, co-author of Eat This, Not That!, provides insightful tips on what you should and should not eat when dining out. While this information is highly beneficial for the person on the go, it still doesn’t promote what may be the best (and simplest) weight-loss program available to anyone: dining in. Statistics show that a person consumes far more calories when dining out than when eating at home, regardless of how healthy the entrée appears to be. Therefore, a dining table may very well be the best investment you can make toward a healthier lifestyle.
While the dining room table has been a staple within the home for centuries upon centuries, this piece of furniture has, sadly, become more of a place to lay clutter than spend time with loved ones. As schedules fill up months in advance with meetings, after-school activities and endless errands, Americans barely have time to scarf down a cheeseburger, much less enjoy a 30-minute meal at the dining table with family members.
According to a study conducted by the University of Arkansas, the average person in the U.S. miscalculates his or her caloric intake by up to 93 percent when dining out. That’s right—93 percent! For example, a turkey burger may seem like a healthy alternative to a ground beef burger; however, factor in the fat content (especially if the turkey is ground with the skin on), size of the burger and various condiments, and your turkey burger is about as healthy as a slice of meat-laden pizza. Bottom line: The restaurant table is your adversary; the dining room table is your friend.
Eating in rather than dining out bears many weight-loss benefits. For starters, enjoying a meal at the dining table with loved ones is an intimate experience. Studies reveal that when a person is engaged in meaningful conversation while eating, he or she has a tendency to eat slower and take smaller bites, thus feeling full faster. When eating at the dining room table with family and friends, the focus shifts away from food and toward togetherness. Additionally, eating slower and less at mealtime leads to better digestion—an important component to losing weight.
Eating at the dining table is also a great stress-reliever. Taking a few moments out of one’s day to spend quality time with loved ones has been proven to reduce anxiety and tension. Think about it: When a person talks about the events of his or her day to friends and family members, the benefits are similar to those of therapy. Ever heard of emotional eating? Oftentimes, people who are less stressed have a tendency to eat less.
Another noteworthy element of eating at home is planning. When a person takes time to plan his or her meals during the week, it’s easier to stay on track and lose weight. Knowing what to make for dinner beforehand reduces the risk of binging when hunger strikes. What’s more, planning meals requires some thought, making it easier to incorporate essential vitamins and nutrients (i.e. calcium, iron and fiber) into one’s meal.
If your New Year's resolutions were to lose weight, stress less and spend more quality time with loved ones, then perhaps your greatest purchase this year will be a dining table. With so many benefits of eating in-and too many drawbacks to dining out-it's time to clear the clutter from your dining room table and start planning your day around mealtimes at home. Bon appétit!