TUESDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- It's easy to overeat at restaurants. But researchers from University of Texas at Austin say they've come up with a strategy that helped a group of middle-aged women who eat out frequently avoid gaining weight and even lose a few pounds.
Calling it "Mindful Restaurant Eating," researchers taught the women to pay close attention to what they were eating and how they were feeling, with the goal of being satisfied with smaller portions and putting down their forks before they felt overly full.
"Going out to eat has become a major part of our culture. Frequently eating out and consuming high-calorie foods in large portions at restaurants can contribute to excess calorie intake and weight gain," said study lead author Gayle Timmerman, an associate professor of nursing. "But just saying, 'Don't eat out' isn't feasible."
Nor is just telling people to eat only the low-cal options. "You can't just say, 'Choose the steamed vegetables.' People aren't going out to eat for steamed vegetables. They're going out to eat for something they're not getting a home."
So people need strategies to help avoid excess calories when they do eat out, while still being able to enjoy the experience.
The study, published in the January/February issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, included 35 women, aged 40 to 59, who were mostly overweight or obese and ate out at least three times a week. Eating out included any meal -- breakfast, lunch, or dinner -- or even getting a pastry and a latte at Starbucks.
About half the women attended six weekly, two-hour group sessions that focused on reducing calories and fat intake when dining out, while the other half were wait-listed. The sessions covered the basics of nutrition, portion size and information about the calories and fat content of foods.
But the women also got into sp
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