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Eat Real Holiday Food, Guilt-Free: 7 Portion Control Tips

by Brad Callow |

Ah, portion control: the number one killer of diets. Especially around the holidays. Or so says Lexington-fitness-expert-slash-owner-of-One2OneBodyscapes-slash-our-new-friend, John Pinsky.

And, just as we suspected, John’s claim is backed up by a whole lot of science.

Studies have shown time and time (and time) again that when we are served larger portions of food, we consume more. A lot more. Namely, 35% more when we have double the normal amount of food on our plates.

Okay, so larger portion sizes = higher food consumption.

Now here’s the problem:

Portion sizes in America are abnormally high

Our portion sizes have increased dramatically over the last 20 years.

And we’re not just talking about good ole’ American super-sized fast food style portion increases. Nope, these increases are happening in our cookbooks too. Which means even our everyday home-cooked meals are bigger than ever.

As a result, our concept of what healthy portion sizes look like are often totally out of whack.

And here’s the kicker:

It only takes 100 extra calories a day to gain 10 lbs. in a year

John Pinsky, along with most nutritionists, will tell you when it comes to weight loss and maintenance it’s often just a matter of shaving off 100-200 calories per day.

John even does the math for us:

“100 extra calories per day quickly turns into 700 per week. Which is about 3,000 a month. Which is like 36,000 per year. That’s an extra 10 pounds you could avoid annually by cutting out those 100 extra daily calories.”

That’s one less beer at a party. Or choosing veggies over chips before a holiday dinner. Or consciously deciding not to take bites of your cheesy mashed potatoes until they’re officially being served at Friendsgiving.

 

7 Holiday Portion Control Tips

We love food at 6 AM Health. Especially holiday food. So needless to say, we believe portion control is the key to enjoying the real holiday treats without totally undoing your diet.

Here are our top 7 portion control tips as the most delicious time of the year approaches:

  • Commit to weighing out all of your food for one week (pre-holidays). Buy a cheap food scale and measure everything you consume for one week. Do this before the holiday parties and dinners start to fill your calendar so you’ll have a handle on how much to serve yourself when the time comes.
  • Learn how to eyeball portion sizes. But since you’re probably not lugging that food scale to Uncle Chuck’s holiday party or Grandma’s Thanksgiving feast (though more power to you if you are!) here are some tricks on how to eyeball typical serving sizes:
  • Turkey/ham/meats/poultry: one serving= the size of your palm
  • Grains/carbs/your fabulous cheesy potatoes: the size of your fist
  • Vegetables: fill the rest of your plate
  • Dips: size of your thumb
  • Keep a food journal. Tell yourself you can have what you’d like as long as you write down every cookie or fun-sized Snickers you eat. Because what makes fun-sized candies fun? They’re so small and unassuming they don’t really feel like they count. And as much as we don’t want to be the leftover Halloween fun-sized candy police, those calories do count. And they add up. So eat the holiday foods you enjoy. But hold yourself accountable by tracking everything. 
  • Don’t go to a party starving. Eat something healthy and filling before heading to any holiday gathering to prevent that inevitable grab for SOMETHING MY GOD ANYTHING in front of your face. The idea is to avoid gobbling down too much of the food you love or any of the food you don’t.
  • Scan the table before plating your food. Before serving yourself, mindfully scan the entire table – whether buffet style apps or a big, seated dinner. Shoot, even use this tip when sifting through your leftover Halloween candy. The point is: scan all of your options, so you only pick the foods you love and pass on the ones you don’t.
  • Increase the number of veggies on your plate. Okay, so the exception to the above rule is veggies. Even if they’re not your favorite – even if you don’t intend on eating that many – pile them on your plate anyway. Because the more veggies you put on your plate, the more veggies you’re likely to eat.
  • Pre-portion your food. Try to eat as healthy as you can when you’re not gathering around food for the holidays. Studies show that eating pre-portioned foods for one or more meals a day leads to greater weight loss success. So the more you pre-prep and pre-portion, the easier it will be to stay on track.

And for the weeks you don’t have time to pre-prep your meals? Let us do it for you!

One last thing to remember friends: it’s not all or nothing. If you slip up at one meal, you’re not doomed for the rest of the day.

Don’t beat yourself up, hop back on the portion control wagon, and keep enjoying those holiday foods you love!