Two Simple Tricks That Can Improve Your Life

Two Simple Tricks That Can Improve Your Life

These healthful tips may sound far-fetched, yet research shows they really do work! Try them and see for yourself.

Wait, the color of your dinner plates can cause you to eat less? Chocolate can be good for you? These ideas sound either too good to be true or just plain out there, but in fact research supports them. Here’s the lowdown.

Switch to colored dinnerware to shed pounds. Research conducted at Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York, provides evidence that the color of your plate affects the amount of food you place on it. Findings suggest that people serve 22 percent more food when a meal and the dish on which it’s placed are similar in color (for instance, pasta with Alfredo sauce served on a white plate). This is especially bad for the waistline since we tend to eat 92 percent of whatever is on our plates, says Food and Brand Lab director Brian Wansink, PhD, author of the forthcoming Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. “Americans are notorious for eating too many high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods like rice, pasta, french fries, and mashed potatoes,” says Wansink. Serving “white” foods like these on dishes with contrasting darker colors, such as red or blue, could trigger you to put less food on your plate, for fewer calories consumed. Conversely, if your goal is to eat more dark-green vegetables, choose a green or darker-colored plate.

Boost fitness with chocolate. You’ve already heard how milk does a body good. This dairy delight is rich in bone-building calcium, hunger-fighting protein, and vitamin D, which improves immune function. But did you know that taking a swig of the chocolate-flavored stuff can help your body recover better from a hard workout? Numerous studies show that this childhood favorite is just as effective—maybe more so—than commercial recovery sports drinks. Experts credit chocolate milk’s mix of carbohydrates and protein for its fitness-enhancing powers. In one study performed at the University of Texas at Austin, participants who downed an 8-ounce glass of chocolate milk within 30 minutes after completing a vigorous workout and another 8-ounce glass one hour later developed more muscle and less fat over the course of four and a half weeks. They also doubled their oxygen consumption, a key marker of cardiovascular fitness, over subjects who consumed no-calorie drinks or carb drinks (like sports drinks).  Because whole milk is high in saturated fat, stick to low-fat or fat-free chocolate milk. For optimum benefits, have a glass within 30 minutes of completing your workout.