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Health & wellness

Nutrition and you!

Three tips for avoiding holiday weight gain

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Adapted from the Nutrition And You! blog on Boston.com

The festive news about holiday weight gain is down-right jolly: According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, research suggests that Americans, on average, gain only about one pound during the holiday season. Yet those who are overweight are more likely to gain a tad more.

Unfortunately, if you don’t lose that weight but rather carry it over year after year, it can snowball after a decade of holidays. To help you avoid ringing in the new year with even a mere pound more of you, I have uncovered three simple, science-based strategies that could help you avoid weight gain during the holidays. Who knows — these may be so effective for you that you may even lose some weight.

Eat off red plates

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When you are driving and see a red stop sign, you stop. Eating foods on a red plate may have the same effect on your consumption, according to a study published in the journal Appetite. In this study, researchers allowed 109 individuals to freely snack on pretzels served on either a white, blue, or red plate while completing a questionnaire. Those who were given pretzels on a red plate ate significantly less than the individuals who were given pretzels on a white or blue plate. (The difference in hunger among the individuals in the three groups was ruled out.) The authors hypothesized that the color red may elicit an avoidance reaction through socially and culturally learned habits, such as a red traffic light or flashing red alert.

Use tall, narrow wine glasses

The shape of your glass, if you hold the glass when you pour yourself the wine, and the color of the wine may affect the amount you drink.

Researchers have uncovered traps that cause people to pour, and drink more wine. So this holiday season, use tall — rather than wide — wine glasses; don’t hold the glass when you pour the wine, and instead place it on a table; and be aware that color contrast when pouring wine may make it easier for you to keep your wine portion, and associated calories, in check.

Begin at the healthy end of the buffet

How food is displayed on a buffet table may affect what you put on your plate.

In a study, researchers uncovered that 86 percent of individuals took fruit when it was the first item on the buffet table but only 54 percent took fruit when it was at the end of the buffet table. “Each food taken may partly determine what other foods a person selects. In this way, the first food a person selects triggers what they take next,” claims behavioral economists Professor Brian Wansink and Andrew Hanks, postdoctoral researcher, and authors of the study.

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If you are a guest at a holiday buffet, head first to whichever end of the buffet table that has the healthier foods and begin filling up your plate.

Read more of this blog at Boston.com.

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