We make more than 250 decisions about food every single day. Every time you open the refrigerator, watch a TV commercial, eye a billboard, or observe a friend or co-worker eating – in every instance, whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re making a decision to eat or not to eat. But what sways us to choose or not to choose? Is it taste or hunger? Cost or convenience? How or where we were raised? With so many factors that influence our food choices, it’s a wonder that we ever eat consistently at all.
For most of us, by the time we’ve reached adulthood, we’ve established a pretty basic inventory of foods that we eat day in and day out. Sure, you might arrange them differently into a variety of meals and snacks, or mix it up occasionally at a restaurant – but I’ll bet if I asked you what you typically eat, you could probably give me a fairly good picture of your usual diet.
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Picture yourself at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Are you facing the buffet, or are you sitting with your back to it? Are you in a booth or at a table? Do you cruise the whole buffet line before deciding what to eat, or do you just plunge right in? To the well-trained eye, the way you behave in a buffet line could say a lot about you – and could very well affect how much you eat.
A couple of years ago, a paper published in the journal Obesity1 revealed some interesting findings from a cleverly-designed study. A total of 22 ‘trained observers’ were scattered among 11 all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets throughout the country, where they slyly watched over more than 200 diners.
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Burgers will probably never have a reputation as a health food, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about what you slap between two halves of a burger bun. The concept – some meat (or meatlike) product, condiments, and the equivalent of a couple of slices of bread – doesn’t have to fly in the face of healthy eating.
Let’s start with the patty. Some people have been known to choose a fish sandwich over a traditional burger – figuring that fish is always better than beef. This is true as long as the fish is grilled or broiled. But if the fish is fried – and slathered with tartar sauce – then the grilled beef burger is the clear winner, with half the fat and a third fewer calories.
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