Want to Lose Weight? Eat at Home

Medically reviewed in June 2021

Pop quiz: It's Friday night and you're trying to decide where to take the family for a healthy dinner on the town. Should you pick a) a vegetarian restaurant, b) a Japanese restaurant, or c) a farm-to-table restaurant? The answer is actually d): none of the above. Instead, when you want to eat healthier, eat at home.

Recent research suggests that you eat healthier and make better food choices in when you eat at home.

Round and Round We Go
Scientists asked 160 women to log their emotional states and eating habits over a 10-day period, and found that women tend to eat healthier foods when they're happy and at home. And it sets up a brilliant chain reaction: Eating a healthy meal triggers even more positive emotions, which makes you choose healthier foods at the next meal, creating a cycle of positive reinforcement. And this cycle is more pronounced when you eat at home. Why? Scientists suspect it's because home is where you feel most content, and there's more comfort and happiness associated with a home-cooked meal. That happiness triggers healthier eating.

A Happy Home
This supports the belief that healthy eating habits are based on more than just knowing what you're supposed to eat. Your emotions play an important part too. To eat healthier, researchers suggest making your eating area as appealing and comfortable as possible. Play relaxing music, set a pretty table, light a few candles, and you'll boost your mood -- which will help whittle your waistline. Talk about happy endings!

And, for those times when you really need a meal out, use these strategies to keep you from overindulging.

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