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The surprising secret to eating healthier meals

Photo: Foodies Feed
Photo: Foodies Feed

Have you ever gone to the grocery store on an empty stomach? Talk about dangerous. Well, it turns out that the same sort of thing happens if you don’t order your lunch ahead of time.

According to a new study from AMA Journals, and reported by Science of Us, ordering lunch several hours before you actually eat it is a hack for eating healthier. And it makes perfect sense—just as you frantically put all of the food you could possibly want in your shopping cart when shopping while hungry, you’re more likely to order more calorie-packed, less-healthy options when hunger strikes and you go get lunch.

The study analyzed over 1,000 lunch takeout orders, taking into account the content of each meal and the amount of time between ordering and pickup. And the findings? People who waited until they were ready to eat (and possibly hangry) chose higher-calorie food, and those who ordered ahead of time chose more nutritious meals. (Meal prepping should have the same effect as well.)

Makes sense. Compared to your brain when it’s hungry, your satiated self is much more rational and can force your future starving self to opt for a veggie-heavy lunch.

Another study, done in 2010, found that the longer the time gap between ordering groceries online and their delivery date, the healthier the orders were. In other words, more people are going to opt for ice cream and other indulgences last-minute. Also, scheduling cheat days makes routinely eating healthy easier.

Lesson learned: timing is everything. To keep your future hungry self in check, order a healthy bite ahead of time.

Need some healthy lunch inspo? Check out these 14 delicious salad combos that wellness influencers love. Or beat #saddesklunch with one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s healthy (and easy) recipes.