The Pistachio Principle

The “Pistachio Principle” is caloric reduction without calorie restriction, according to James Painter, PhD, RD, Chair of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Eastern Illinois University. It is one of the many ways we can alter our environmental cues, allowing us to become more mindful and satisfied with our food choices.

In-shell Snack Slows Consumption

Dr. Painter completed two studies that found that individuals could reduce their overall calorie consumption without consciously restricting their diets. Interestingly, despite the reduction in calories, they reported feeling equally as satisfied as the control group that consumed more calories.

In his first study, individuals self-selected either in-shell or shelled pistachios. Because the shells act as a natural barrier, taking longer to remove, the in-shell group consumed 50% less than the shelled nut group. And yet they reported feeling equally as satisfied as the group consuming more.

Pistachio Shell Offers Visual Cue

In Dr. Painter’s second study, in-shell pistachios were consumed over an 8-hour shift. On the first day the empty shells were left on the desks as a visual “reminder” of consumption and on the second day the shells were removed. Results showed that when the shells were left on the desk as a visual cue subjects consumed 35% fewer calories.

Stealth Dieting Tips and Tricks

Here are a few of Dr. Painter’s tips and tricks to help “fool yourself full.”

• Buy smaller portions

Fool yourself thin by buying single serve chips and small-size candy bars in place of family bags. Studies show that large package size increases caloric consumption by an average of 22 percent.

• Consider environmental factors and choose meal companions wisely

Bright light and fast music can encourage you to eat faster and ultimately consume more calories. Also, eating with friends generally increases the amount you eat.

• Keep impulse foods out of sight and inaccessible

Put healthy snacks like nuts, fruits and vegetables in sight; and chocolate, candy and other unhealthy snacks in the cabinet.

Pistachios & Weight Management: Friend or Foe?

Research continues to show that nuts offer good nutritional value and cardio-supportive benefits. Because of their fiber, fat, and protein content, pistachios are also considered to be a satiating snack. All nuts, however, are not created equal. Pistachios are one of the lowest calorie, lowest fat nuts and offering more nuts per serving compared to any other snack nut.

Research Weighs-In

Researchers at Loma Linda University conducted nut feeding trials in which free living individuals substituted nuts for 20% of their total calories. The lead researcher, Joan Sabaté MD, PH.D., found that, despite the fact that nuts contain fat and are energy-dense foods, they did not cause an increase in body weight. These results for pistachios are consistent with studies of other nuts and body weight.

Good Source of Dietary Fiber

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Committee recommends a dietary fiber intake of about 14 grams per 1000 calories, but consumption studies have indicated that Americans typically consume only half of the recommended amount. As a good source of fiber, pistachios can help meet this goal, providing 12% of the DV per serving.

Article courtesy of, found here.

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