Fool yourself into smart snacking this April 1st with pistachios. These tiny green nuts are packed with protein, fiber, and are delicious!
My old boss used to put pistachios in his candy dispenser and it was a favorite activity of ours to break out the pistachios before any big meeting. He was such a laid-back boss, I would always have piles of pistachio shells scattered on his desk. I remember thinking I couldn’t believe I ate so many pistachios during our meetings after looking at the pile of pistachio shells.
What I learned from this experience is the visual cue the pistachios gave me with their leftover shells. Eating pistachios was a helpful way to process how much I’ve eaten. I have found that without the shells, my brain doesn’t always connect with my stomach as quickly as I’d like it to, and I end up overeating. I love eating pistachios in the shell since it fools me into snacking smarter because I eat slower and I have a visual guide of how much I’ve consumed. This is actually called the “Pistachio Principle”, who knew? (1,2)
Pistachios are one of the lowest calorie nuts, and are a favorite of mine to indulge in, I had no idea they were actually known as the “Skinny Nut” though! 1
One reason I love eating pistachios is because you can eat 49 nuts in one serving. Which is almost double that of peanuts (28 per serving), and triple that of the cashew (18 per serving).
The Pistachio Principle is a simple eating concept that essentially says you can help fool yourself full without feeling deprived. There have been studies done that show that even without restrictive dieting, people who ate shelled pistachios were able to reduce their overall consumption. 2,3
Not surprising, one research study conducted found that participants who consumed in-shell pistachios ate 41 percent fewer calories compared to those who consumed shelled pistachios. Seeing those shells piled up on the desk certainly gave me a better insight on how much I’ve eaten. In this study, the participants that chose the shelled pistachios ate an average of 211 calories, while the participants that chose the in-shell pistachios consumed only an average of 125 calories. 2,3 This is why I choose shelled pistachios as my go to snack!
I like to stack my pistachio shells up as I am working on a task, instead of throwing them away as I eat. Now I have an excuse to keep doing this! I found out that in another study, snackers who left the empty pistachio shells on their desk throughout the day cut their calorie consumption of pistachios by 18 percent compared to those who tossed their shells in the garbage. This doesn’t surprise me since there are 2 shells for every one pistachio. It can quickly look like I’ve eaten a ton!
Tips to Fool Yourself Full
- Reduce the size of plates, bowls, and glasses. I do this at home. I eat off of salad plates and this is such a helpful trick for fooling my brain into thinking I’m getting a large serving.
- When drinking anything but water, drink from taller slender glasses instead of short wide glasses.
- Buy Smaller Portions
- You can buy pre-packaged servings of chips and bite size candy bars. Or you can do like I do and divide them out. Do you really need the big gulp or the super size? Purchase single-serving chips and small-size candy bars in place of large bag family snacks. If you like to buy in bulk, divide 5 servings of snack foods for the week as soon as you buy them. This way when I get a craving for something, I already have a prepackaged amount. If I decide to eat directly out of the large package, I’m almost always going to overeat. A study suggests that large package sizes increase caloric consumption by an average of 22 percent.
- Know Your Surrounds
- We have all heard that eating in front of the tv or on the computer can cause you to underestimate how much you have eaten. Also eating directly out of a package instead of portioning out a serving onto a dish or bowl can also cause you to underestimate how much you are consuming. I had no idea that bright lighting and fast music can encourage you to eat faster, according to Dr. Painter. Again, this leads to brain and stomach disconnect which leads to over consumption of calories. One study showed that consuming food at a slower rate helped participants achieve satisfaction quicker with less food.
Looking to add more pistachios into your life? Check out the Pistachio Health Institute for more solutions on healthy snacking, and nutritional research. There is also an awesome Pistachios For Life Giveaway on the Pistachio Health Institute’s Facebook Page. I highly recommend checking it out and entering – who doesn’t want pistachios for life!
As for me, I love trail mix but often find I quickly inhale the entire serving and don’t savor the flavors of the different ingredients. So I’ve change my snacking strategy. Now I include 100 calories worth of pistachios in their shell (which is about 30 pistachios) as well as freeze dried fruit for a low calorie but very filling trail mix that I can enjoy as my mid-afternoon snack. Having to open the pistachios one by one gives my brain time to connect with my stomach and I often feel full off of 100 calorie serving.
What about you?
- What do you do to fool yourself into snacking smarter? I recommend giving pistachios a try!
- Do you eat off of smaller dishes or portion out your snacks?
See footnotes for sources:
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 27.
- K. Kennedy-Hagan, J.E. Painter, C. Honselman, A. Halvorson, K. Rhodes, K. Skwir. “The Effect of Pistachio Shells as a Visual Cue in Reducing Caloric Consumption.” Appetite. 2011, 57(2): 418-420.
- Honselman, C.S., Painter, J.E., Kennedy-Hagan, K.J., Halvorson, A., Rhodes, K., Brooks, T.L., & Skwir, K. “In-shell pistachio nuts reduce caloric intake compared to shelled nuts.” Appetite. 2011, 57(2):414-417.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.