SparkPeople Blogs  •  news  •  family

Extra Helpings: Out of Sight, Out of Mouth

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Eating dinner as a family is very important to me. I grew up in a home where we sat down for dinner together for dinner, and I've carried that tradition on to my own family. I also grew up in a house where the food was left on the stove, you served yourself and brought your plate to the table. That's a tradition I've also carried on, although it's been more of a habit than an intentional practice. New research shows that practice could be saving my family from eating more than we really want or need.

The study, from Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab, looked at how many calories were consumed if food was left on the table during mealtime, versus serving from the kitchen counter. When serving dishes were kept off of the table, people ate 20 percent fewer calories. Men actually ate even less, with a 29 percent reduction. I think it's much easier to grab a second helping of food without thinking about it when it's sitting right in front of you. If you have to get up and walk across the room for another portion, you'll think about it more. Am I really still hungry? Do I really need to eat more?

The same strategy can be used to encourage healthy foods. It's easier to grab a piece of fruit when it's sitting in a bowl on the table versus having to search through the refrigerator to find it. I always try to keep fruit and vegetables easily accessible during meal times and for snacks. If we've got cookies in the house, I keep them in the cupboard. (That's really for my own benefit!) Even though I know they are there, it's less tempting to eat them if they aren't calling my name from the kitchen counter.

Do you leave serving dishes on the counter or at the table during meal time? Do you notice that you tend to eat more when they are left on the table?