Avoid Holiday Weight Gain. But If Diets Don't Work, What Does?
My tail feathers got all twisted when I read that the average American gains 27 pounds between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Eve.
OK, I'm pulling your leg. The statistic's more like 4 to 7 pounds, but even that's depressing -- enough extra poundage to make your jeans feel like a blood-pressure cuff.
Take heart! It doesn't have to be that way. We humans have choices. Dogs, cats and children pretty much have to eat whatever's piled in front of them, but we grown-ups are free to choose, free to make small meaningful changes in our life that lessen our risk of obesity and boost our well-being.
I'm a big fan of the Nutrition Action newsletter. In a recent issue, Caitlin Dow summed up important new research about overeating in an article called "How To Eat Less: What Works, What Doesn't." It's filled with surprises and helpful suggestions:
--SHATTERING THE SMALL PLATE MYTH. Remember when obesity experts were telling us that eating on small plates helped you eat smaller portions? Not so fast.
"Focusing on plate size is a diversion," says Barbara Rolls, a professor of nutritional science at Pennsylvania State University. She's looked at the existing research, and done her own, and concludes that people do not eat less when they use a smaller plate. Sorry.
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"I'm particularly fond of the buffet experiment," she says. "If we gave people smaller plates, they just went back to the buffet more times."
Eating off a small plate might be helpful if it's a visual reminder for you to eat less, but it won't stop you from overeating. In fact, she says, people who only have a small plate to eat off are likely to leave off the foods they don't really like, which are often vegetables. Much more important is to learn to love your veggies.
--CHOOSE LOW-DENSITY FOODS. It's not the size of the plate. It's what you put on the plate that really matters. Duh.
"Half the food on your plate should be fruits and vegetables that have a low calorie density," says Rolls.