We all know how hard it is to avoid tasty treats such as chocolate and crisps but it is even more challenging over the festive season.

According to the British Heart Foundation, the average person will consume around 7000 calories on Christmas Day alone; the recommended daily intake for a woman is 2000 calories and 2500 for men.

Snacking is one of the biggest causes of overeating but there are ways in which we can combat this over Christmas and beyond. A recent hypothesis by Dr. James Painter of East Illinois University recommends adopting 'The Pistachio Principle'.

Dr Painter states that: "For example, people will eat larger portions when served food on a bigger plate, and will consume more alcohol when drinking from a wider glass. This tendency to eat mindlessly and rely on our senses, instead of real hunger, is one of the reasons why dieting doesn't work. By making small behavioral changes and using visual cues, one can eat less without feeling deprived."

Nuts are a healthy snack choice, but choose wisely. In-shell nuts like pistachios slow consumption; empty shells left behind also serve as an important visual cue. Dr. Painter's studies show that when empty pistachio shells were left behind, subjects ate 35 percent fewer calories, yet reported feeling equally satisfied with their portions.

The Pistachio Principle

For more information about the Pistachio Principle including video soundbites from Dr. Painter speaking about the principle and additional tips on how to fool yourself thin, visit http://www.pistachiohealth.co.uk