How to stay thin and still have your big family dinners

When it comes to eating with my friends or family, I know that I can sometimes overdo it. I’m having fun and rarely paying attention to how much food I’m putting in my mouth. Plates tend to be bigger and it’s standard to go for extras and, often, have a few extra glasses of wine and bites of dessert. But I wonder how much damage I could be doing by not keeping track of my consumption.

A new study says that people actually tend to mimic each other’s eating behavior, bite for bite. Most people in the study took a bite within five seconds of their dining companion’s taking a bite. But since eating and exercising together plays a large role in gaining and losing weight together, there’s a few things that we can do to make sure the scale isn’t going up.

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Read more ¿Qué más? 5 best tips for eating your favorite Latino foods on a budget.

  1. Pace yourself in the beginning. The main thing that study found was that we especially mimic each other’s eating pattern, bite for bite, in the first 20 minutes of the meal. Instead, why not slowly sip on a glass of water and munch on some veggies for appetizers? It’ll help you pass the time while you settle into getting comfortable with your dining companions.
  2. Cook traditional foods with caution. As mentioned in the tips for eating your favorite Latino foods on a budget, easy substitutions can lead to healthier decisions. Skip or reduce the amount of oil and lard that you use in recipes, buy smaller plates to better control portion sizes, swap out half of your ground beef for chopped mushrooms and use yogurt instead of sour cream—all smart strategies that can save a few calories here and there.
  3. Make an exercise plan. With the 2 year anniversary of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, there are some great strategies to get moving with your family. My favorite idea is to spend some time bonding with your family by taking a walk around the block after dinner. It’ll jump start your metabolism and encourage digestion. Make it even more fun by challenging everyone to a race!

Read more ¿Qué más? 5 ways to get moving with your kids right now.

What is your #1 strategy for keeping the weight off but still maintain fun and festive family dinners?

Image via Max y Miliano/flickr