Thursday, November 18, 2010

Portion Control, Size Matters...

This weekend, I headed down south with some girlfriends to celebrate a friend’s birthday. As we were getting ready for her party, I came to a realization. My friend was deciding between two dresses and after choosing that night’s winner, she exclaimed that the other one was perfect for Thanksgiving day because it was loose-fitting on the belly. We all decided the perfect Thanksgiving outfit included, of course, a loose waistband! That’s when it hit me- are we really judging our outfits based on how they can best maximize our ability to stuff our stomachs full of food, to the point that they will no longer fit in our tight-wasted pants? Oh yes, we certainly are!

Thus this week’s topic: Portion Control. With the “big day” approaching, everyone has food on their minds- and a lot of it. People have been known to indulge on Thanksgiving and eat meals upwards of 5,000 calories (that is enough for almost 3 days!) So, as mentioned before, here at the Secret Ingredient, we never say no to indulgence, especially on your favorite dish, but let’s do it Secret Ingredient style! Here are a few tips for Turkey Day :

1. Eat a good breakfast before you start cooking. While some people may think it is smart to bank calories by not eating breakfast or lunch the day of Thanksgiving, this can actually be disastrous. I don’t know about you guys, but when I am hungry there is no stopping me- I will eat whatever is in front of me, and rather quickly. Make sure to have adequate protein and fiber (such as some Greek yogurt with fruit and some fiber-rich cereal or a Kashi Go Lean protein and fiber bar and a piece of fruit) for breakfast and a light but filling lunch. This will prevent you from mindlessly picking at dishes you are preparing.

2. Stick to your favorites. As we have mentioned before in our Halloween blog, it is important to indulge sparingly so pick your 2 favorite side dishes and your 1 favorite dessert, and enjoy them in a normal-ish portion size (I mean, I’m not going to lie and tell you that my serving of sweet potato pie is the size of a ping-pong ball. It’s not, and I love it!)

3. Don’t eat from the Dish (namely, the pie dish). Eating straight from the dish allows us to eat continuously without any sense of portion size. Maybe that is a good thing for the guilt-factor since you can never really tell how much you ate, but for a guilt-free indulgence, simply take an appropriate-ish piece of the pie and enjoy (and maybe put the pie away- It can be very hard to resist seconds, at least for me!)

4. Fill half your plate with vegetables. Whenever you are at a dinner party, if you have control over what is served to you, always pile up half your plate with non-starchy vegetables (we are not talking about potatoes or stuffing here!). The fiber from the vegetables (i.e. broccoli, brussels spouts, and salad) will fill you up faster on healthier calories, preventing you from overeating.

5. Enjoy the company! Yes, Thanksgiving is mainly about good food, but it is also about being together with friends and family, so take advantage and engage in some satisfying conversation, as well as satisfying food. When you engage in conversation while eating, you are more likely to eat slowly and therefore, consume less.

Why Have You Done a Good Thing?

This one is short and sweet.

Unhealthy portion sizesà increased calorie intake (as little as 500 extra calories per day)à weight gainà a number of health-related consequences associated with being overweight or obese (such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, etc.)


Indulging in healthy portions of your favorite things once in a while (such as on Thanksgiving)à satisfaction and satietyà normal eating habits and portion sizesà healthy lifestyle!

So, what exactly is a healthy portion size? As an on-the-go New Yorker, I am certainly not taking the time to measure out everything I eat, especially at Thanksgiving dinner, SO, here is a quick fix using pictures to estimate how much you are eating, for kids and adults!

A few more portion tips…

1 Serving Size

Looks Like…

3oz red meat

Deck of cards or the palm of your hand

1oz cheese

1 Domino or your Thumb

2 Tablespoons peanut butter

1 Golf ball

1 slice of bread

CD case (for those of you who still have them!)

2 Tablespoons almonds

Palm of your hand (spread in 1 layer)

Small apple

1 Tennis ball

1/2 cup broccoli

Bulb part of a light bulb

Just one more tip. Make a fist. This is about 1 cup of anything!

You are now ready to be a healthy eater all holiday season long, so go enjoy (and don’t forget to indulge every once in a while!)

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