How to survive the Christmas Season

With the 'silly' season nearly here - oh it's already here - eeeeek, there's the issue of all the tempting foods and treats that come with it inviting us to overindulge.

Just some simple planning and limiting portion servings can be all that is required.

There are researchers who devote their careers to studying what makes us eat more and what helps us push away from the buffet.

Food-psychology laboratories produce information to the food industry, about how to get us to eat more of their foods. But there's no reason why we can't use this information to help us figure out how we tend to respond to different eating situations so we can better manage portions - and weight.

So here's what the RESEARCH say

* Out of sight, out of mind: The more visible food is (like the sweet dish on your co-worker's desk), the more likely we are to eat it. No problem if it's food you don't like, but if you love chocolate and have to stare at a bowl full of Christmas chocolates, you'll probably surrender. 

The secret is to make tempting goodies less visible. Using covered, opaque dishes for sweets, and open dishes to display fresh fruit, which will encourage the healthier choice. Also, try keeping nutritious foods at the front of the fridge or cupboard and put the ones you want to control in the back.

Same thing applies when catering for the family Xmas at home - add large platters of fresh fruit and raw nuts everywhere - with the odd dark chocolate thrown in for good measure.

* Size matters: The bigger the package, container or plate you're eating from, the more will eat. The brain seems to be looking for signals to mark the end of eating. Something about seeing an empty plate, bowl or bag helps us feel satisfied whether the container is large or small. That's why using smaller plates is so effective. So, when going to that big holiday buffet, serve your food on the small plate.

*Step Away from the Food Table: During parties, whenever possible, serve yourself small portions and then step far away from the rest of the food. The less you look at food, the more likely you will be to feel satisfied with what you served yourself. 

* Slow down: It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to receive all the physiological signals that you've eaten enough. So the faster you eat, the more you'll eat. What's the hurry anyway?  The more you let your body get the full enjoyment out of what you're eating, the sooner it will say: "Okay, that was good, but I'm done." :-). Focus on eating and your brain will then realise you have actially eaten.

* Plan Ahead
Have a Formula 1 shake for brekafst on Xmas Day and Boxing Day if you are planning family meals later in the day - that way you'll be less likley to crave sweets and you'll be less starving when you arrive.

Posted by Vicki Kenny on Thursday 13 December 2012
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