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A simple ruler may hold the key to preventing holiday weight gain this season. You’ll need it when unpacking the festive plates, glasses and utensils you use for all your holiday parties and meals. As indicated by the research cited below noting the size of that dinnerware can help you control the size of the portions you eat.
A study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found a link between portion size and overeating based on a review of more than 70 other studies that looked at the effect of different portion sizes on food consumption. The researchers concluded “people consistently consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions.”
Pick the Right Plate for Portion Control
Choosing a smaller plate or bowl is one way to limit portion sizes according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The research found that using smaller plates can decrease serving size by up to 10% with a corresponding reduction in the number of calories served. If your holiday place settings are super-sized, this may be a good time to pick up some smaller-sized pieces to add to the set to provide the options you need. I found a nice selection of smaller plates and bowls at the discount store that worked well with my tableware, and I got them at a great price, too!
Apply Caution to the Portion Size When Eating Out
When eating in a restaurant or someone else’s home you typically don’t have a chance to pick your own plate, so other strategies are needed to control food portions. The most important one to remember is that you do not have to eat everything on your plate – or multiple plates if served multiple courses – no matter who prepared the meal or is paying for it. And if questioned about why you didn’t finish be prepared to politely, but firmly, tell your host how delicious the food was, but you simply had enough. You can then ask to take the unfinished portion home.
Need more help? Keep these 5 Portion Control Tips in mind to help you avoid holiday weight gain and unwanted calories all year long:
Portion Control Tips
- Always use a small plate to serve yourself hors d’oeuvres at parties to avoid taking food from platter to mouth where it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
- Choose an appetizer for your meal when eating out and complement it with a salad and/or side vegetable.
- Alternatively, share an entrée in restaurants and get your own appetizer or salad to start.
- Use a salad plate at buffets and don’t put more than three different foods on it at a time, so you must get up and revisit the buffet line if you want more food.
- Ask the server for a “primo piatti” portion of pasta, or first course, instead of an entree portion.
For more tips on controlling holiday weight gain, see my earlier blog on “Tweaking Holiday Recipes.”
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.