Thanksgiving is almost here, and Christmas is already peering over the hills at us. But you have been steadily losing weight and want to maintain the eating habits which have made that possible. How to manage, when those turkey and ham dinners are so inviting? Two words: portion control.
In 2004, a study of 329 overweight individuals looked at how they handled meal portions. The study found that of those who consciously controlled their portions, 38 percent lost a minimum of five percent of their weight. Thirty-three percent of those who did not gained at least five percent.
Managing the Amount You Eat
The most difficult part of keeping to your diet plan at this time of year is simply managing the amount you take in. Here are some tricks you can use to get through this time.
Portion Control Doesn’t Mean Avoiding Meals
Avoiding meals in anticipation of a large dinner is a false economy. Going into that huge and inviting dinner hungry only makes you more likely to over-eat. So ensure you eat regularly throughout the day. Don’t skip breakfast or lunch, just because turkey or another feast awaits. Don’t let more than five hours pass between meals during your day.
Portion control begins with a plan. Think about what you will eat and when. Have you been invited to spend Thanksgiving with friends or family? Will you be making dinner yourself?
If you will be eating out at the home of a friend or family member, consider what you expect to consume. Do you expect to have seconds? If so, be prepared to reduce the amount you eat the first time, so that you have room. Will dessert be served? What are your options? Vegetables (non-starchy ones) and fruit are heavy in valuable fiber, without excess calories.
If you prepare dinner yourself, you have much more control. Research recipes for side dishes such as salads that are low in calories. Look for desserts that are low-calorie but still delicious.
Know Your Portions and Servings
Believe it or not, there is a difference between a portion and a serving size. A portion is the amount you put on your plate. A serving is a term used by the US Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and food distributors to indicate the number of calories in a given amount of food. So the portion you envision may not match (or even come close to) what the company which sells that food product calls a “serving.”
It’s important to know what qualifies as a serving, so if you are in doubt, get out the measuring cups and a weigh-scale. According to the USDA, a three-ounce serving of turkey meat contains 101 calories. So what does three ounces of turkey meat look like? Find out, so you’ll know how much you’re going to be putting in your body. (Hint: hold your hand up with your fingers together. Look at the palm of your hand, from where your thumb meets your palm to where your fingers begin. That represents approximately three ounces. Of course, this is purely a rough estimate; the actual weight will depend on the density of that particular food item.)
Once you have your plan in place, and you know how much you’re prepared to have at your next celebratory dinner, don’t fret. You’re there to enjoy yourself. You have a plan and you’re going to stick with it. Enjoy the festivities.