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Portion Sizes and Your Holidays

As the holidays approach it is very common to overindulge or gobble up more food than is comfortable.  Holidays in particular are a difficult time of year because they are celebrated back to back, and it can be hard to keep on track.  It is important that you do enjoy your holiday and the foods it has to offer, but listening to your hunger and fullness cues is key.

 Holiday portion sizes are generally larger than your average meal and people tend to take second and third helpings.  On average, Americans gain about 1-2 pounds over the holidays, and while this does not seem to be significant, this weight tends to stay on and many people keep gaining the weight.  How do we avoid this weight gain?  Portion sizes! 

 Here are some ways to help keep your portions stable throughout the holidays:

 Do not skip meals throughout the day

Skipping meals throughout the day can cause people to overindulge later due to extreme hunger or justifying that they can eat more since they didn’t have anything earlier in the day.  Try to eat high fiber foods, whole grains, fruits and vegetables throughout the day.  These foods will satiate you during the day before your larger evening meal.

 Avoid the buffet line style of serving food

When serving your meals, try serving each dish plate by plate instead of having all of the food on the table at once.  This will help keep you from mindlessly putting more food on your plate.  Out of site out of mind!  All foods have calories so be mindful and prioritize your favorite food items.

 Use smaller plates

This allows you to put less food on your plate, which in turn promotes accurate portion sizes.  Try filling your plate with vegetables before plating your dessert.  If smaller plates are not an option, try keeping the food inside the outer rim of the plate and towards the middle.  Eat slower than you normally do to enjoy every bite.  This can help you savor every bite you take so you reduce the urge to eat more to “enjoy” the food.  When you finish your plate, wait about 15 minutes before you decide that you want more food.  Chances are you will feel satisfied.

 Mingle away from the food

People typically eat more food when it is available while mingling before or after the meal.  Many people mindlessly pick up snacks that are sitting near to stay occupied while they are talking with friends and family.  Move the mingling away from the food and in another room.  You can also try holding a glass of water or sparkling beverage so that your hands are occupied while catching up with other guests.

 Stay hydrated

Having water on hand keeps your hands busy and also helps to control appetite.  Try drinking a glass of water before your meal so that you do not go to the table starving and wanting to eat more than your stomach can handle.

 Stick with one dessert

Sticking with one dessert can be difficult!  Try and pick your favorite dessert and enjoy every bite. If you really want to try a couple different desserts, cut down the portion size.  Split a piece of pie and one cookie with a friend or family member.  This way you get a taste of a couple things and feel satisfied.

 Do not feel guilty

The holidays are meant to be a fun time where family and friends get together.  You do not have to restrict yourself.  Just be mindful of times you’re eating out of hunger, habit or availability. Take a taste of many different dishes while watching the amount of each that you put on your plate.  Remember each holiday is just one day, so be mindful if they extend to weeks or months!



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