By Jay Patruno, NASM-CPT, Dietetic Intern, Class of 2019
Department of Nutrition

Jay Patruno

Jay Patruno

The holidays are a time to celebrate, not to stress about what you can or can’t eat.

Here are some strategies to enjoy your favorite holiday foods while controlling portions and maintaining balance.

1. Use smaller dishes and utensils.

We often eat with our eyes before our stomachs. If you fill your plate, you’re more likely to ignore the fact that you’re full and continue eating until the plate is empty. Using a smaller plate will ensure you take smaller portions. The same goes for utensils; by using smaller forks and spoons, your bites will be smaller. You’ll enjoy each bite and gradually feel full.

2. Don’t stand next to the food or appetizers.

Positioning yourself next to the appetizers can lead to mindless overeating. Put a selection on a small plate and only eat what’s on your plate. In the kitchen, avoid picking at food before it is served.

3. Serve the food separate from where people will eat.

Setting the table with all the food in front of us is tempting and makes it convenient to take extra helpings, even if we are full. By keeping the food separate, you must actively get up and refill your plate. You’ll be less likely to ignore the fact that you feel full and overeat.

4. Take a rest between servings.

It takes time for our bodies to move all the food down and signal to the brain that the stomach is full. Before refilling your plate, take a few minutes to sit and enjoy the company around you. You may realize you’re not truly hungry enough for more.

5. Balance your plate.

Try to fill your plate half with vegetables, a quarter with protein and a quarter with starch or carbohydrates. Eat your vegetables first, then the protein, then the starch or carbohydrate. You will get fiber and nutrients from the vegetables, and the protein serves as the messenger to the brain that the stomach is full. By the time you get to the carbohydrates, you may not eat as much as you would have if you started there.

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