(NEW YORK) – ABC’s Good Morning America teamed up with Reader’s Digest on a special series highlighting insider secrets from various service industries. This month, Reader’s Digest’s editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello reveals secrets from her book, The Digest Diet, that experts won’t tell you about dining out.
1. Chinese food is really easy to customize, since a lot of dishes are cooked to order. Ask for your food to be cooked with only a little bit of oil, or in broth instead.
2. The cheese served in restaurants is almost always full fat. So figure 50 calories per thin slice and 25 calories from tablespoon shredded cheese. Feta cheese has one-third fewer calories than cheddar cheese, and is easy to crumble into small piece.
3. If you’re going to get a pizza, put red pepper flakes on top. Capsaicin, the compound that makes chili peppers spicy, will cause your body to increase temperature and burn more calories.
4. Menu design. Our eyes have a natural tendency to look at the right side of the menu first, so restaurants usually list their most expensive dishes in that area. Some restaurants put their most expensive items at the top of the menu, so other items will look more reasonably priced. Shaded boxes and borders around menu items also attract hungry patrons and can increase sales.
5. They turn up the volume. You know how you practically have to shout at some restaurants in order to have a conversation? It’s not because the restaurant owners just happen to love music. Studies show the louder the tunes, the more quickly you’ll eat — and the sooner you’ll leave. That means a faster turnover and a higher profit for the restaurant. While you may not even notice how quickly you’re throwing back that burger, your belly will suffer. It takes 20 minutes for the “I’m full” signal to get from your stomach to your brain, so those loud tunes mean you’re more likely to end up overstuffed.
6. Seating. When you’re seated, you may find yourself in the awkward middle of the dining room, or perched in uncomfortable chairs. Both of these maneuvers are likely to make you want to shovel in your food more quickly, eating more calories as you go. Remember, if the hostess leads you to a table you’re sure you won’t enjoy — such as one next to the restroom, for example — it’ OK to request a better location and take your time eating in comfort.
7. They get you to drink. Restaurants like to serve you cocktails before you even crack open your menu. Why? Because alcohol stimulates your appetite. Get your drink on before you order, and you’re more likely to end up ordering more and probably less-healthy food to quiet your now-growling stomach.
8. A daily dose of chocolate can trim your waistline. If you’re like us, you welcome any new excuse to add more chocolate into your life. To release fat, here’s the trick: Go heavy on the cocoa and light on sugar. Cocoa contains more antioxidants than most foods and is good for so many things when consumed in moderation, including weight loss. To add more cocoa into your diet, buy unsweetened cocoa and add it to shakes, coffee and other recipes.
9. A glass of wine a day is an effective fat releaser. So many people have asked me if it’s OK to have a drink when trying to lose weight. Good news: Many studies clearly show that a small glass of red wine a day is good for your health. Now numerous animal studies are highlighting its great promise as a fat releaser. In one large study of more than 19,000 middle-aged women of normal weight, those who were light to moderate drinkers had less weight gain and less risk of becoming overweight than those who drank no alcohol. And in another separate animal study done in 2006, the researchers found that resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red wine, improved exercise endurance and protected against diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.
10. Dairy promotes weight loss. Unfortunately, some myths persist that dairy sabotages weight loss, but science finds this couldn’t be further from the truth. Research suggests that those who have deficiencies in calcium hold a greater fat mass and experience less control of their appetite. What’s more, studies have found that dairy sources of calcium — such as yogurt, low- or nonfat cheese and milk — are markedly more effective in accelerating fat loss than other sources. In one study from the University of Tennessee, researchers found that eating three servings of dairy daily significantly reduced body fat in obese subjects. If they restricted calories a bit while continuing with the same dairy servings, it accelerated fat and weight loss.
11. The difference between being overweight and maintaining a healthy weight may boil down to one move: fidgeting. Research suggests that people who are naturally lean — you know the sort, they seem to eat all day, eat whatever they want and never gain a pound or an inch — automatically, even subconsciously, find ways to move to make up for any extra calories they may be ingesting. Believe it or not, spontaneous physical activity such as fidgeting, bending, brushing your hair, doing dishes and so forth can burn 350 or more calories a day, according to Mayo Clinic research.
12. All sugar isn’t evil when it comes to weight loss. It’s no secret that America has a sugar problem. According to the American Heart Association, we eat 22 teaspoons a day on average. The Heart Association recommends six for women and nine for men. While cutting back on sugar consumption all around is a smart, healthy move, you should also consider swapping some of your sugar for honey. Honey has also shown great promise in animal studies for reducing weight gain and adiposity (fatness) when substituted for sugar. It’s a nutritious fat-releasing alternative that also boasts antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. It may improve blood sugar control, is a great cough suppressant and boosts immunity.
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