Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

August 22, 2017
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Live and let dine

With the average person working more hours than ever, it's no wonder that homecooked meals are on the decline.1 This is truly cause for concern given the evidence that eating out is associated with an increased BMI,2 which, as we know, increases risk of chronic diseases.

The good news is that consumers and restaurant chefs alike are becoming increasingly concerned. Recent research suggests that a majority of chefs surveyed believe they could trim 10 to 25 percent of their meals' calories without customers noticing.3 When factoring in that a mere 100-calorie daily reduction amounts to a 4.5-kilogram loss in one year, this is, indeed, good news. So why wait for restaurant chefs to make our outings healthier? Here are some simple strategies to drop 100 calories from a restaurant meal:

• Dip your bread in a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of topping it with butter.
• Have an 8-ounce (225-gram) battered shark filet instead of the 8-ounce (225-gram) filet mignon.
• Have 18 french fries instead of an all-dressed baked potato (all dressed being 1 tablespoon/15 ml sour cream, chives, and 1 tablespoon/15 ml grated cheddar and a half strip of bacon).
• Have a garden salad and one 4-ounce (125-ml) glass of wine instead of a Caesar salad.
• Have a bowl of pasta primavera with tomato sauce and two bites of your favourite, most decadent dessert instead of a bowl of pasta primavera with Alfredo sauce.

Recent research looked at strategies used by consumers when eating at restaurants.4 A common one was stopping to eat when full — surprisingly more difficult than it sounds. We are all born with basic hunger and fullness signals, but most of us become accustomed to ignoring them. Slowing down helps your body recognize whether you are still hungry; it also reduces energy intake and increases satiety.5 To re-connect with these cues, try this at your next meal:

• Take smaller bites and appreciate the different flavours.
• Aim to be the last one to finish.
• Put your utensils down between each bite.

If you're conferencing a lot or always on the road, eating at a restaurant is a regular occurrence, which warrants additional strategies.

• Always get enough sleep, as this helps with overeating.
• Stock up on healthy snacks such as nuts, dried fruit or whole-grain cereal bars.
• Book a room with a small kitchen then find a local grocery store, and buy food for easy breakfasts or pick up a frozen dinner.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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