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The Skinniest Seat in the Restaurant

If it’s not just what you eat but how you eat, perhaps it stands to reason that it’s also where you sit that counts—at least when it comes to eating in restaurants.

The Skinniest Seat in the Restaurant
Report

The Skinniest Seat in the Restaurant

If it’s not just what you eat but how you eat, perhaps it stands to reason that it’s also where you sit that counts—at least when it comes to eating in restaurants.

(Because 43% of American dining is done outside of the home, this is particularly important. That’s where Cornell University professor Brian Wansink rides in. The author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Our Everyday Lives visited 27 restaurants across the country, analyzing interior layouts and how diners at each table ate. Not for nothing has Wansink been called the Sherlock Holmes of food: His team’s findings have revealed that there are clear correlations between posterior positioning and how much each diner consumed.

So here’s exactly why you should pass on the booth if you want to eat out and keep your backside in shape:

SIT BY THE WINDOW

Diners who ate in areas that were lit and looked out on the outside world were 80% more likely to order salad, and those who parked themselves in a dark booth were 80% more susceptible to ordering desserts. (Spread out now, spread for good.)

Wansink’s Take: It might make you feel conspicuous about your consumption, or the greenery might make you more disposed to order salad. “The darker it is, the more ‘invisible’ you might feel, and the less conspicuous you may feel,” Wansink writes.

SIT AT A HIGH-TOP TABLE, NOT A BOOTH

Diners who perched at high-rise, less-comfortable tables instead of sprawling into booths ordered more salads and fewer desserts.

Wansink’s Take: Because tall-tops make you sit up straighter, you might feel less like ordering comfort food, such as burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese, and opt out of staying longer for a final dietary assault. “If high-top tables make it harder to slouch or spread out like you could in a booth,” Wansink opines, “they might cause you to feel in control and order in the same way.”

SIT FAR FROM THE BAR

Those who sat within eyesight of Tippling Town ordered an average of three more alcoholic drinks per table of four than those sitting further away.

Wansink’s take: Staring at a row of beer bottles might make you more likely to stare down the neck of one, associating your view with normality and pleasure. (Plus, those sitting near a TV ordered more fried foods than those who did not.) Concludes Wansink: “Sitting next to the bar might make you think it’s more normal to order that second drink, and watching TV might distract you from thinking twice about your order.”

SIT CLOSE TO THE DOOR

Wansink & co. found that people who sat farthest from the front were less likely to eat salad and 73% more likely to indulge in a dessert.

Wansink’s take: “Either well-lit, elevated tables near windows make you eat better, or people who eat better like to eat at well-lit elevated tables,” writes Wansink. “But while you’re contemplating the causality, the couple next to you just took the last elevated table by the window.”