Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Color Me Slim

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, tinsel and lights. Put on sparkly holiday fashions and let your makeup glow. But when it comes to going all out enjoying the festive meals and sweet goodies of the season remember to accessorize with care. Go easy on high calorie add-ons such as nuts, cheese, cream sauces, dips, gravy, butter, sugar and whipped cream – small additions that can add up to plenty around your waistline. That dress you bought on sale back in November for a New Year’s Eve bash may not zip up as easily now. Trim calories wherever you can so you can use them on the splurge foods you don’t want to miss.

Of course, managing calorie intake isn’t a simple task and is especially challenging during the holidays. On a typical day, a person makes over 200 decisions about food. That’s according to Dr. Brian Wansink of Cornell University, author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think. Wansink’s research was the first to show that choosing a smaller plate during a holiday buffet, for instance, would help folks think they were eating more than they did. New research to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that even plate color can affect how much we eat – and there’s certainly plenty of color festooning holiday tables.

Wansink says, “In a groundbreaking new study we found that the color contrast between the plate and food may have a tremendous impact on how much people serve themselves.” Partygoers in the study were directed to buffets serving pasta with either tomato or Alfredo sauce and randomly given red or white plates. Participants who had low-contrast between the food and plates (red pasta on a red plate, or white pasta on a white plate) served themselves approximately 22% more than participants with high-contrast food and plates (red pasta on white plates, or white pasta on red plates). So, to help trick yourself into eating less, choose dinnerware that contrasts the color of your food. Whether on paper or china the serving size of mashed potatoes, for instance, is more obvious on bright red and green holiday plates.

Bobbie Batista, Teya Ryan and Carolyn O'Neil at Turner Reunion Holiday Party
Holiday Helpers

Where the bowls are- Don’t sit so close to the buffet table. Wansink’s study “Serve Here, Eat There” showed that leaving some distance between you and the food resulted in men eating 29% fewer and women 10% fewer calories.

 Liz McDermott in Sleek Chic   

Wear Something Sleek- Wearing body conscious clothes will serve as a reminder that you can't overeat advises dietitian Heather Bauer, author of “Bread is the Devil” out in January. She says, “Guys, you don't get a free pass here.”

Be Sociable- Wait at least 20 minutes before eating at an event. Bauer suggests, “Make at least one full lap around a party to greet people before starting in on the appetizers.”

Don’t Go Hungry- Consider it nutrition pre-gaming says Bauer. By eating a pre-party snack you won’t be so ravenous that hurdle past other guests to get to the parmesan artichoke cheese dip.

Give the Gift of Health - Here are a few bright ideas for last minute gifts in the

healthy eating category.

 Salad spinner- create a gift basket with olive oils, mustards and vinegars.

 Slow cooker- one of the best ways to tenderize tasty cuts of lean meat.

 Microplane grater - for zesting citrus, grating whole spices to add flavor without calories

 Specialty spices – more expensive spices like cardamom, vanilla, saffron, smoked paprika and curry powders are elegant gifts to add flavor and healthy antioxidants with no calories.

 Immersion blender – make rich and creamy textured soups and sauces from cooked vegetables without the need for much or any cream.

 Restaurant guides- a Zagat Guide for your friend’s city will help them plan what and where to eat when dining out. Whether they’re craving Beef Bourguignon or Barbecue they can find names and locations of restaurants, check out an eatery’s menu and select healthier menu options ahead of time. The latest Atlanta Zagat Guide is the 19th edition.