Forget the Fads: Post-Holiday Portion Control

They come around this time every year. They are all over TV and the the Internet, Facebook, blogs, talk shows, everywhere you turn. These sneaky little things promise us a quick fix. And even though we know better, we sometimes fall into their trap. What are they? Fad diets.

When it comes to our diet, it can be challenging to get back on track after the holiday season (especially after all the egg nog, cookies and rich dishes we’ve consumed). Fad diets seem like a great way to take off the extra pounds quickly — but what about healthfully? Since it’s a new year, instead of trying a new fad diet or crazy cleanse, focus on healthy portion control. Below are some helpful “healthful” portion control tips adapted from The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Controlling Portions at Home

  • Read the nutrition facts and ingredients label. Use a measuring cup and take the amount of food that is equal to one serving.
  • At meal times, avoid eating in front of the TV and put down other electronic devices. Avoiding these and other activities will help you pay attention to what and how much you are eating.
  • Try to eat at regular intervals. Skipping meals may lead you to overeat the next time that you sit down to have a meal.
  • Choose smaller plates (8.5-9 inches), bowls, and glasses. No more eating from the big box, bag or carton.
  • Still hungry? Take seconds of vegetables and salads (watch the toppings) instead of options such as pastas, breads, desserts and dishes with heavy sauces.
  • If cooking in large batches, freeze food that you will not eat right away in single serving containers. You will be less tempted to eat the leftovers right away, plus you’ll have ready-made and pre-portioned food for another meal.
  • When buying snacks in large packages, portion items in smaller bags or containers. If possible, go for single-serving, low-salt, low-fat prepackaged foods.

What About Eating Out?

  • Share a meal! You can order an appetizer as your main dish or even a half-portion.
  • Take at least half of your meal home. Ask for a portion of your meal to be boxed up when it is served so you will not be tempted to eat more than you need.
  • Become mindful about the food on your plate. Take your time and stop eating when you begin to feel full. Focus on enjoying the company you are surrounded by.
  • Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. These lead to a hefty number of empty and non-nutritive calories. Try choosing water or unsweetened beverages. You can always add some flavor with a slice of lemon or cucumber. If you want to drink soda or juice, choose a small or children’s size.
  • When traveling, pack an insulated cooler with water, pre-cut fresh fruit and vegetables along with low-fat or low-calorie dips and yogurts.  Dried fruit, nuts, and seeds are also great easy to snack on foods; just make sure to watch those portions with these items.

For more information about nutrition related topics to help you stay on track this New Year, check out Choose My Plate.

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