'Plan, pick and use portion control,' to prevent holiday weight gain

December 12, 2013 by Katy Cosse, University of Cincinnati
Credit: iStockphoto.com

A University of Cincinnati (UC) nutritional studies professor has three key reminders for those of concerned about healthy eating during the holiday season: "Plan, Pick and Use Portion Control."

Debra Krummel, PhD, is the Ruth E. Rosevear Chair of Nutritional Sciences at UC's College of Allied Health Sciences. An expert in women's health, she focuses her research in omega-3 supplementation for pregnant women.

She says holiday weight gain is a very common, and probably underreported, phenomenon. But instead of focusing on dieting the whole month, Krummel recommends focusing on maintaining your weight through the celebrations.

"If you feel like you're not enjoying the holidays, you're more likely to overindulge," she says. "Holidays hold a lot of meaning for everybody. It's important to enjoy them while maintaining a balanced diet at the same time."

To help with that goal, she offers the following recommendations:

Plan out your plate

"If you visualize a plate, fill a quarter of it with protein, a quarter with grains and half with fruits and vegetables," says Krummel. "And put dessert on the plate, too! The idea is that you can only get so much food onto one plate."

You can plan out your week, too. If you're going to a party on the weekend, plan out your meals—and your exercise—to prepare for the extra calories.

"Just like you shouldn't go to the grocery store hungry, it's really bad to go to a party hungry," says Krummel. "Chop up some vegetables to munch on before the party and on your way there."

Pick water-based foods first

When sampling the hors d'oeuvres, Krummel says to go for shrimp cocktail (not sausages) and veggies and hummus (over cheese and crackers) first. You'll get fuller much sooner.

Use Portion Control

Krummel says there are several ways to help with : using smaller plates, avoiding seconds and making sure to put your fork down between bites and savor the meal.

"Denial is the worst thing," she says. "Take a couple of bites of your favorite foods, or bake cookies and muffins in smaller tins. You can still enjoy the muffin; it will just be half the size of a regular one."

In her own home, Krummel says her family uses smaller plates and substitutes more nutritious foods for traditional dishes, like having sweet potatoes instead of mashed potatoes—"but chocolate is the one given," she adds. "We can't give up our chocolate for the holidays!"

Explore further: Don't overgobble this Thanksgivukkah

Related Stories

Don't overgobble this Thanksgivukkah

November 28, 2013
In a rare occurrence, Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah both happen to fall on Nov. 28 this year. This coming holiday many will find it very hard not to overindulge in old favorites and newly invented culinary creations.

Skip the fat talk and go directly to model behavior to avoid fights

December 9, 2013
Politics and religion are considered unsafe topics of conversation at holiday dinners and parties, and experts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say avoiding another topic—weight—can help everyone be more merry ...

Two ways to battle the holiday bulge

December 3, 2013
Though the Thanksgiving feast and leftovers are behind you, the holiday eating season has just begun. On average, Americans gain one or two pounds this time of year. Though that might not sound like much, the annual weight ...

10 tips for preventing weight gain over the holidays

December 6, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Many websites and magazine articles offer ideas about how to lose weight over the holidays, but Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, says that people ...

3Qs: How to eat healthy around the holidays

November 23, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Overeating is common this time of year, between the large holiday feasts and more and more sweets creeping into the kitchen. With Thanksgiving only a few days away, we asked nutrition expert Katherine ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.