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I'll Have One of Everything
Hello from Dallas, Texas!
I'm here to speak at a conference, and I read an interesting fact on the plane. Dallas has 4 times more restaurants per person than New York City. Surprised? Me too, especially since I used to live here. I mean, I knew there were lots of restaurants, but I did not realize there were that many! At least once a week, Jack reminds me that one of the things he misses most about the Big D (his hometown) is the variety of food. When we are deciding where to go eat, we often wind up having the exact same conversation. It sounds something like this:
Jack: Where should we go?
Me: Hmmm, I don’t know.
Jack: We eat at the same places all the time.
Me: Yup (at this point, I know what's coming).
Jack: If we were in Dallas, I could think of a million places to eat (this is usually followed by him naming each restaurant he misses, along with his favorite menu items at each spot – it's actually very endearing).
The conversation usually ends with us making peace with going to one of our usual spots, and Jack saying, "Oh well, if we did live in Dallas, I’d probably weigh a ton." Actually, there is research to support that more variety leads to more eating (and thus weight gain).
The research mainly focuses on variety within a single meal, and it's interesting stuff. For example, if you go to a buffet and there are 6 dessert selections, you would probably end up eating more actual dessert than if there were only 2 options. In one study, researchers found that when subjects were given 4 courses of food, those who had different foods for each course ate 44 percent more than those who ate the same type of food for each course. In other words, when different foods are available at the same time, you’re more likely to overeat.
What is your take on this theory? When you go to a restaurant with a menu that reads like a novel (filled with lots of foods you like) vs. a simple one-pager, are you more likely to order multiple items? As I have mentioned before, variety is a key strategy for improving the health of your diet, but if variety tends to give you the munchies, it may be best to eat smaller more frequent meals that include fewer foods per meal, or keep a close eye on your portion sizes. So what do you think? Does variety up your intake, and if so, how do you deal with it? Please share your thoughts.
P.S. I have to admit, I miss the food in Dallas too, but I try to focus on the positive, like living near the beach. Jack took this picture of me the other day during our post dinner, pre-movie walk in the sand. Ahhhhh, winters in Florida!