New Philly-Based Study Uncovers the Trick to Resisting Pizza and Cheese Fries

How to order at a cafeteria without breaking the calorie bank.



If you’ve ever wandered into a cafeteria or food court and immediately lost the will to maintain any dedication to a healthy diet, you are not alone. The smell of cheese fries and pizza tends to have that effect. But a new study, conducted by the Philly-based Center for Urban Health Policy and Research at Einstein Medical Center and published in the journal Appetite, has revealed what could just be the trick to resisting not-so-healthy temptations at a cafeteria: Decide what you’re going to order before you actually step foot inside. That way, the smell of melted cheese (or hot donuts or sweet-and-sour chicken) isn’t even a factor.

The study looked at the cafeteria lunch meals of 26 Einstein employees over the course of 18 weeks. At the beginning of the study, participants attended a workshop on mindful eating. Then, for the first portion of the study, they ordered food in the cafeteria as they normally would; later on, they were able to decide what they wanted to eat beforehand and pre-order their lunch from the cafeteria online.

In the end, researchers found that when participants decided what they wanted to eat ahead of time — outside of the cafeteria, without the smell of Cheez Whiz calling their names — they opted for lunches with an average of 145 fewer calories and 9 fewer fat grams. Say whaaat?

The takeaway: While you can’t always order online, you can at least think about what you’re going to eat before you head out to lunch; many places even offer easily accessible online menus. Who knows? With a little advance recon, you could end up saving big in the calorie department.

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