March 08, 2016

As the director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, Brian Wansink, Ph.D. is working toward making healthy choices easier for everyone. "Nobody wants to start a diet in a restaurant," says Wansink. But a few small tweaks make it easier to order healthfully.

Choose a well-lit spot. People eat more when they're hidden away in dark corners.

And do sit down. Avoid the temptation to eat on the run. A recent study in the Journal of Health Psychology found that women who ate while walking gobbled more calories than those who were seated.

Always start smart. Skip the bread basket, Wansink advises, and make sure the first thing you eat is a fruit or a vegetable to trigger healthful choices for the rest of the meal.

Decode the menu. "Seasoned," "roasted," "marinated," "fresh," and "broiled" signal healthful dishes. "Buttery," "creamed," "crispy," "smothered," and "loaded" add up to lots of calories, saturated fat, and sodium.

"Shop" the buffet before you choose. Buffets are an invitation to overeat. Instead, says Wansink, peruse your options, and then grab the smallest plate available for the items you really want. You can always go back for seconds.

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