To better control calories when eating out, order your food in advance, if possible. You will be less hungry and less likely to order impulsively—or so the theory goes.
This strategy was put to the test in a series of studies recently in the Journal of Marketing Research, which involved people ordering lunch at various times before eating the meal. In one study, researchers analyzed data from 1,000 online lunch orders at an employee cafeteria and found an average reduction of 38 calories for every hour of delay between placing the order and picking it up.
In another study, students who selected lunch before class ordered about 100 fewer calories than those who ordered lunch after class (right before eating). According to the study’s lead author, “These findings provide one more piece of evidence that decisions made in the heat of the moment are not as far-sighted as those made in advance.”
If you can’t place your order in advance, you may be able to at least view the menu and decide ahead of time what you will order (and then stick to your decision).
Also see Restaurant Menu Manipulation.