Portion control during the holidays seems like the perfect oxymoron. No matter what holidays you celebrate, from Thanksgiving through the New Year you’ll likely be tempted with a variety of high-caloric, tasty, perhaps guilty pleasure-esc foods. While I find it easier to have “the works” on Thanksgiving, it’s the month of December that makes portion control during the holidays a little trickier for me. Between white elephant gift exchanges, work parties, cookie parties with friends, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, AND celebrating Anthony’s first birthday [oh and New Year’s Eve and Day], it’s fairly easy to meet my caloric intake for the year just in one month [not really, but you get the picture].
So to take the stress out of ENJOYING attending holiday events and not acting like the white elephant in the room by being overly critical of what I’m eating, I want to share my number one secret for portion control during the holidays. Ready for it?!?! I call it my “rule of one” for portion control. That means when you are faced with the dessert bar or the choice between a variety of not-so-healthy options, take one portion [or scoop, ladle, slice, roll, etc.] of each food you really want to eat. I know for me it’s easy to pile my plate with all my favorites, but if I follow the “rule of one,” I can enjoy bites of each of my favorites without feeling SO stuffed. Here are some more examples:
- One scoop of mashed potatoes—- a scoop = the spoon that comes in the bowl [notice I’m not saying heaping scoop]
- One slice of pie [If you are concerned about the size, share it with someone or ask the person serving it to give you half a slice]
- One piece of all your favorite appetizers or desserts— if there’s an appetizer or dessert spread. I’ve come to realize if I choose just one of my favorites, I overindulge on THAT one, and am likely to go back for seconds or thirds when all I really wanted was a taste of a few of my favorite holiday foods.
When I shared my mindset for portion control during the holidays with my friend Bethany, she also felt this “rule of one” makes you feel like you’ve fully participated and gotten to eat everything without depriving yourself, but intuitively limiting calories. Now I know this isn’t a scientific method, or an exact measurement approach to portion control. I’d encourage you to stick to a method that works for you— if it’s eyeballing scoops and pieces like my “rule of one” or sticking to nibbling off your friend’s plate, just remember a party typically doesn’t last a whole day or week. So look at your diet in terms of THAT day, or the entire week [like my friend Elizabeth shares in her post, “Embracing My Not So Healthy Thanksgiving Menu”]. And before you head to a party or host one yourself, make sure you are eating some better-for-you foods if you plan on enjoying 1-3 slices of pie!
***If you have a medical condition that requires you measure, or limit the amount of indulgent foods found at holiday parties, please disregard this post. I’d encourage you to work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to help you maintain your healthy eating goals.