Two thirds of people who ordered out loud went for the cake, compared to only 38 percent of those who pressed the buttons.Several subsequent experiments found a similar effect: People made healthier choices when they pressed buttons on vending machines, wrote their orders down, or simply grabbed the food themselves than when they ordered aloud.
Why? Using your hands when you order activates a part of your brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is also involved with impulse control, says study author Anne-Kathrin Klesse, Ph.D.
So when you choose your own meals, engaging your hands could trick your brain into making smarter decisions, Klesse says.
At the food court, you may be better off hitting up a restaurant with grab-and-go options or touch screens than places that force you to interact with other humans (the horror!). Ordering in? Try using a website like Grubhub or Seamless instead of picking up the phone.
And when you go to a restaurant where you have to order aloud, check out the menu in advance, Klesse says. Even though you’re not using your hands, thinking about your decision ahead of time will help you make a less impulsive choice.