Lose Weight Even if You Eat Out: Study Examines Principles for Dieting


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Make healthy decisions when eating out. Photo by: USDA

Eating out is a common practice for many Americans, and meals often contain large portions that have excess calories, fat, and sodium. However, a study released today shows that you can still lose weight even when you’re eating at restaurants.

This study, entitled “The effect of  mindful restaurant eating intervention on weight management in women,” and published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Nutrition and Behavior Education, demonstrated successful weight loss among a group of women who were taught about ways to avoid excess calories at restaurants.

Restaurant Meals and Weight Loss: Mindful Eating is the Key

Dr. Gayle M. Timmerman, PhD, RN, of the University of Texas at Austin and her colleagues enrolled 35 healthy women who ate at restaurants at least three times a week in the study. The 35 women were split into two groups, the intervention group and the control group. The intervention group went through a six week intervention called “Mindful Restaurant Eating.” Decoded Science had the opportunity to ask Dr. Timmerman about the components of the Mindful Restaurant Eating intervention. Her response follows:

‘The intervention had 3 components:

1) Knowledge and content

2) Interactive skill building activities which included individualized weekly goal setting and homework to practice skills learned in class. This intervention gave people tools to choose from rather than requiring everyone do the exact same things.

3) Mindfulness eating meditations:

a.       Mindful eating – learning awareness of the sight, smell & texture of food to enjoy eating out and being satisfied with smaller portions.

b.      Mindfulness eating meditations – guided meditations to increase awareness of hunger & fullness.”

Dr. Timmerman also stated that, “the intervention sessions were once a week for 2 hours over 6 weeks in a small group format. Participants also had weekly goals and homework that they worked on between sessions.” The goal of the intervention was not for participants to lose weight, but to maintain their weight. However, participants in the intervention group reduced their calorie intake by approximately 297 calories, and as a group, lost 1.7kg (3.7 lbs) during the six weeks.

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