Chris Zellers, MPP -Assistant Professor/Educator, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Family & Community Health Sciences Department
Portion size is a contributor of overeating all year long but when tasty treats are easily available during the holiday season the chances of filling up on larger portions increases. In the 1970s the size or portion of food became larger in the United States. This larger portion size exceeded federal standards set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug administration (FDA). The increased portion size continued well into the 1990s and the growing size of food meant growing waistlines and Americans began having a hard time maintaining a healthy weight. Eating appropriate portions helps to maintain a healthy weight and portions do matter during the holidays and all year long.
When attending a holiday party being mindful of portions is the best way to combat overeating make sure to have a plan before heading out to an event to keep portions in check. If the party is a buffet take a little bit of what you want but try putting it on a smaller plate and not over filling the plate. Smaller plates trick our minds into thinking we are eating more than we are and keep portion sizes smaller. Generally, a protein like chicken, fish, pork, or beef should be about the size of the palm of your hand – 3 ounces. Try using the palm of your hand to provide an idea of how much protein is being eaten and use that as a portion size. After eating that first plate of food before going back for seconds wait about ten minutes and have a drink of water. This will allow the brain time to catch up with the feeling of fullness. Drinking water during the meal and putting down the fork will control portion sizes too because it slows down the amount being eaten. Conversation at the table with people that we don’t see all year long may take our minds off how much is being eating, slowing down when eating can help too. Once you have finished eating place your napkin over the plate, to prevent the temptation to pick at what is left on the plate. It is recommended by the USDA that we fill half of our plate with fruits and vegetables, this is no different during the holidays. The holidays are a great time to try a new vegetable dish or fruit dessert that is not available all year long that may even become a new holiday tradition.
Restaurant portion sizes are often more than what is eaten at home and when dining out during the holidays, just like at a party, being mindful of how much is being eaten is important. Before going out to eat look at the menu online and see what the best option for you would be so you have a beforehand. When the meal comes out realize it may be two or even three portion sizes. Take your knife or fork and divide the dish into two or three portions then ask for a to go box right away to take the extra food home for later. Desserts are so delicious during the holidays but just like other foods try approaching them with moderation in mind. When eating out consider sharing a dessert with someone else at the table or getting one for the table to share. Like other portions when we eat out the decant dessert can be much larger. Enjoying in moderation will make you feel satisfied and allow for a better night’s sleep and more energy during the holiday season.
Staying hydrated is another important tip all year long but especially at the holidays. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger and eat when we are thirsty. Enjoying water earlier in the day will keep you hydrated and help avoid eating portions that are too large. Taking small steps to keep portions in check during the holidays will start the New Year off with good health.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Brussels Sprouts make an interesting side dish to serve along with a family meal. The roasting process makes the dish very sweet and brings out the flavor. They can be found all year at most supermarkets or found at your local famer’s market during the summer months.
- 2 cups fresh Brussels Sprouts, they can be found at your local supermarket or farm market.
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Rinse Brussels Sprouts in cool water. Remove the stem and outer leaves. Slice each Brussels Sprout in half lengthwise. Place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, then drizzle with olive oil. Toss lightly to coat. Bake 15 minutes. Enjoy as a side dish or serve atop a mixed green salad!