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December 20, 2011 by Dean Simmons, Registered Dietitian

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Have you ever heard of the "See Food" diet? That's the one where you eat everything you see. This isn't a new diet fad; rather it's an important observation on human eating behavior.

Research shows that how much food we eat is subtly influenced by the signals and cues in our day to day environment. Indeed, much of our eating behavior tends to be subconsciously directed.

As the holidays approach you might start seeing bowls of candies or boxes of chocolates appearing in the office, or in the homes of friends and family that you visit. Do you decide to take a few to nibble on, or pass them by? Your decision may be subtly influenced by the container they are kept in.

In one US study, administrative assistants were given covered glass dishes filled with chocolates as a gift for one week. Half of the covered dishes were made of clear glass, while the other half were made of white coloured glass. During the week the chocolate dishes were refilled by the researchers each evening after the staff had gone home. Can you guess which administrative assistants ate more chocolate by the end of the week? The ones with the clear glass dishes ate 77% more chocolate.

Why? Simply put, we tend to eat more of a food when we can see it. Each time we see a dish of chocolates or candies we have to decide whether or not to eat one. If we like these foods and they are tempting, then it is likely that we will decided to eat a chocolate or candy at least some of the times when we see them.

I love research results that we can apply to our daily lives. If you are trying to prevent overindulging in the seasonal bounty of chocolates and candies, remember "out of sight out of mind."

Happy holidays!
~ Dean

Reference: Wansink, B. Painter, JE, and Lee, YK. (2006). Proximity's Influence on Estimated and Actual Candy Consumption. International Journal of Obesity. 30:5; 871-875.
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Comments (1)

Clara

Posted on Tuesday December 20, 2011 a 11:00am

This is SO true. I'm going to have to break out the hard-to-open old-school opaque tupperware for leftovers and baked goods this holiday.... *weep* Thanks for the reminder!

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