It’s the weekend again and along with that comes my downfall with food. Without the structure of the week, I find myself walking into the kitchen every hour or so looking for something to snack on even though I am not hungry. Call it boredom, call it convenience, call it what you will, but the real reason I think I’m frequently drawn to the kitchen on Saturday and Sunday is because I have lost the mealtime structure of the week and allow myself to graze all day long. Now, this may actually work for some people, but if I graze all day I definitely lose track of how much I have eaten. I may walk into the kitchen around 8:00am for some cereal and coffee. Then again at 9:00am for a banana. Then again around 9:45am for a granola bar. Hey, it’s 11:00am, time for some humus and crackers! I think its lunch time, I guess I’ll have an apple, some yogurt, some chips…that sounds good. Now it’s 1:30pm and I’m back in front of the fridge. I think I’ll have some toast. Now it’s 3:00pm, I think its alright to have ice cream now! Hey, dinner time! I’ll have chili, a roll, some veggies, and a glass of milk. Yea, that sounds good. Now it’s 7:00pm, evening snack time and I think I’ll have a few cookies. It’s 8:30pm and for some reason I’m still hungry, so I think I’ll have some Gold Fish crackers and more milk. And it just goes on and on and on.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that I eat a lot more food over the weekend then I ever do during the week. I lose the visual cues of eating without my meal times and as a result, I just keep eating. Now, I know what you’re thinking. If I would just keep my meal time structure, then I would not have this problem, right? Well, it’s the weekend and I don’t want to be limited by a time schedule for meals. I do enjoy my flexible meal schedule but I do not enjoy the extra calories that are sneaking into my diet. I need to find a stealthy and healthy snack that can help me minimize calorie consumption without my conscious decision to restrict foods and calories.
So what snack is that, you ask? Pistachios! During my time as a graduate assistant at Eastern Illinois University, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Jim Painter (which I’m sure you know by now if you are a follower) who did a few studies with pistachios. He found that the form of the food you eat can really make a significant difference on the amount of calories you consume.
Pistachios are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and phytosterols (which can help reduce blood cholesterol levels). They are a great healthy snack that can keep you full and satisfied throughout the afternoon. The best part about pistachios is the form in which the come. Dr. Painter’s studies show that if you eat the pistachios with the shells instead of the pistachios without the shells, you can reduce your overall calorie intake significantly. By watching the shells pile up, you can keep track of how much you have eaten and as a result, you will maintain your visual cues of consumption.
So it may seem like a simple concept, but after putting it to the test weekend I definitely eliminated the majority of my afternoon trips to the kitchen! It looks like the pistachio is a stealthy and healthy snack that I can use to help me reduce my calorie intake and sneak in some good nutrition while allowing me to still maintain my flexible weekend eating schedule.
Karla J Kennedy-Hagan, Ph.D., RD; James Painter, Ph.D., RD; Carla S Honselman, Ph.D.,RD; Amber Halvorson, MS, RD; Kathy Rhodes, MS; Kaitlin Skwir, BS. (2011) Pistachio Shells as a Visual Cue to Consumption. Appetite.