Don’t eat your heart out: How to avoid overeating on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is nearly here with its candy and romantic dinners. So, how can you make sure that your heart is bursting, but not your belly? Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, headed by Brian Wansink, offers some tips and tricks on how to avoid the invisible cues that nudge us into overindulging.


Have a small snack – such as one piece of that Valentine’s Day chocolate – before you leave for your meal (link to study)

  • 15 minutes after eating a small snack, we tend to feel just as satisfied as if we ate a handful! By eating just one bite or two, we can curb our hunger and avoid overindulging during the main course!


Select a relaxing restaurant with low lights and soft music and sit near the entrance.

  • In restaurants with softer lights and music, we tend to eat less, eat for longer, and enjoy our meal more.
  • The closer we sit to the window, or door, the healthier we tend to order – in fact, those sitting farthest from the door are 73 percent more likely to order dessert


Tip: Decide what and how much you are going to eat before entering the restaurant to avoid being biased by those around you.

  • Men tend to eat more food when dining with women (link to study)
  • We tend to order and consume more drinks and dessert when our server is overweight (link to study)
  • The presence of an overweight diner can unknowingly influence us to eat less healthfully (link to study)


Tip: Take your time with the menu and ask the server for healthy recommendations to avoid being biased by the menu.

  • We are influenced by the placement of foods on a menu and are more likely to buy the items that are colored or bolded and placed in the corners of the menu (link)
  • We are more likely to pick foods that have rich, descriptive names and are even willing to pay more for them
  • Dishes described as buttery, creamed, crispy or smothered tend to have higher calories that those described as seasoned, roasted, light or fresh

To download free to use illustrations of some of these tips, go to:




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