The Best Lunch Habit for Weight Loss

These days, you can get pretty much anything delivered: your meals, your groceries, even your boxes of wine. But ordering stuff online isn't just convenient—it may help you slim down, too, according to new research published in the journal Appetite.

For the study, scientists split 26 overweight hospital employees, average age 45, into two groups. They asked the first group to pre-order their cafeteria lunch online for four weeks straight. They were encouraged to order their lunches any time before lunch but were required to allow at least 45 minutes before picking it up. Then, the researchers asked the second group to just get their lunch in the cafeteria. They also gave both groups mindful-eating training prior to the four-week ordering intervention.

Turns out, the group that purchased their lunches in advance ordered meals that had 145 fewer calories and 8.9 fewer grams of fat, on average, than the ones that the cafeteria group ordered. They also simply didn't order as many things as the people who decided what to purchase in the moment. Researchers believe ordering online serves as a "pre-commitment device" to your health. In other words, ordering food in advance made them more committed to stick their mindful-eating goals. Plus, since they didn't order as many things, it could also be that they didn't see the temptations by the registers and therefore weren't as tempted to make an extra last-minute purchase (though the study didn't specifically identify this as a possible explanation for the results).

To get a similar effect, try ordering healthy takeout for lunch before your stomach starts grumbling too loudly. If you're on a budget, packing a weight-loss promoting lunch ahead of time works, too—the idea is just to decide what you're going to eat before you're in that moment when you're starving; that may help you take in fewer calories than if you wing it.


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