You know those "light and healthy" sections more and more restaurants are putting on their menus? They could be sabotaging your weight-loss efforts: A new study shows that when restaurants create special low-calorie sections on their menus, people tend to automatically rule out those options.
Researchers from Georgia State University and Columbia University conducted four online studies in which they asked participants to order food from menus similar to what they might find at popular chain restaurants. In the first study, some participants were shown a basic menu with no calorie counts; some were shown a menu with calorie information next to each dish; and some were shown a menu with calorie info and a separate grouping for low-cal dishes.
The results, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, are pretty much a bummer for well-intentioned restaurants: People who ordered off of menus with a special "light" section chose just as many calories as those who ordered off the standard menu with no calorie counts. The people who ordered off of menus with all of the calories labeled – but no special section for the more diet-friendly foods – consumed fewer calories overall. The researchers hypothesize that many people assume the more healthful foods would taste bad or wouldn’t fill them up – and those separate menu headings make it easy to dismiss all of them at once.
Our advice? Don’t get freaked out or intimidated by these special labels or menus. Healthy food can be super filling and tasty – so just pick the most appetizing thing you see and stop overthinking it!
More From Womens Health:
Healthy Eating 101
8 Healthy-Eating Instagram Accounts You Should Follow
23 Ways to Eat Better