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Practicing Portion Control

Set Yourself Up for a Healthy New Year

Image of diverse group at a meal table with a variety of foodsThe holiday season is already upon us which likely means several work and family parties have filled our schedules— and soon enough our dinner plates. When we’re constantly surrounded by food and treats, we can’t help but eat more than our usual portions.

Heather Collins, RD, registered dietitian at the Lakeland Comprehensive Weight Loss Center, shares tips for keeping your portions under control and setting yourself up for a healthy new year.

Eat fruits and vegetables prior to a big meal.

They are packed with low-calorie fiber that helps you stay full and avoid overdoing it at mealtime.

Eat until you’re 80 percent full.

This means not stuffing ourselves until we can hardly stand. A good way to practice this would be to wait at least 20 minutes after eating before going back for seconds. It takes the brain time to realize the stomach is full. If we jump up for seconds before then, we are likely to overeat and be miserable!

Use a smaller dinner plate.

We live in a culture that tends to eat what is in front of us. Most of us were raised to “clean our plate.” If we limit ourselves to a smaller plate, and clean that, we may be downsizing our portions by one-third or even one-half.

Set a sweets limit.

Some of us are “all or nothing” when it comes to sweets. If we have even one bite of something sweet, all bets are off. For these folks, it’s best to abstain from sweets altogether and possibly bring their own, healthy versions of desserts, such as homemade fruit salad made witGreek yogurt instead of cream cheese, or even sugar-free options (pudding, Jell-O, etc.) For most of us, the best method is to decide ahead of time how much and what we will eat. For example, if we know that Grandma is bringing her famous apple pie, we may decide to allow ourselves a small slice, but avoid all other options. Most people also struggle with the many treats offered throughout the week at work and parties. Try to avoid the aforementioned offerings from these events and stick to dessert on the actual holiday.

Help your kids practice healthy habits.

Kids who are deprived of sugar will likely binge on sweets when they get the chance. The best thing to do is allow treats in moderation. Don't make it part of the culture in your home. Offer alternatives like flavored Greek yogurt, fruit and peanut butter, or make holiday treats with lower calorie substitutes (apple sauce in place of oil, etc.). In addition, creating a home environment where family dinner (without television) is the norm has been shown to promote healthy eating behaviors in children and preventing eating disorders in adolescent girls.

You’re allowed to say “no.”

This may involve turning down an invitation to yet another gathering or telling a white lie about "not being able to eat another bite" when offered dessert. Remember, you are in control of what you eat, how much you eat, and how many parties you go to.

If you ate too much…take a walk.

Taking a short 10 to 20 minute, slow-paced walk after dinner may help with digestion, and regulate blood sugar levels. In addition, ginger or peppermint tea may also ease indigestion.

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