What Approaches Do Nutritionists Take to Manage Portion Control During the Holidays?


    What Approaches Do Nutritionists Take to Manage Portion Control During the Holidays?

    With the holiday season posing a challenge to maintaining healthy eating habits, we've gathered advice from nutrition experts on managing portion control. From the importance of pre-party healthy snacking to managing quantity for weight loss, our Wellness Coach and Nutritionist offer seven strategies to help clients enjoy festive foods without overindulgence.

    • Pre-Party Healthy Snacking
    • Mindful Eating Over Restriction
    • Focus on Mindful Meal Enjoyment
    • Small, Frequent Meals for Gut Health
    • Fill Up on Fiber Before Feasting
    • Mindful Eating Reduces Overconsumption
    • Manage Quantity for Weight Loss

    Pre-Party Healthy Snacking

    I recommend that my clients eat a small, savory snack, such as celery with almond butter, olives and feta cheese, or avocado with salsa, before attending a holiday party where there will likely be lots of tempting carbohydrate-rich foods. Feeling some satiety from eating a healthy snack in advance will limit the amount of carbohydrates they might otherwise splurge on.

    Kristin KurtzLongevity and Wellness Coach, Longevity and Wellness

    Mindful Eating Over Restriction

    When it comes to tackling portion control during the holidays, I've found that a personalized and positive approach works wonders. Instead of focusing on strict restrictions, I guide my clients to listen to their bodies and savor each bite.

    We work on creating a mindful eating plan that encourages them to truly enjoy the flavors and textures of their favorite holiday dishes. By emphasizing the pleasure of eating and being in tune with hunger cues, clients find a balance that helps them indulge without overdoing it. It's about making conscious choices and savoring the festive moments without feeling guilty.

    James Cunningham
    James CunninghamSenior Coach, Total Shape

    Focus on Mindful Meal Enjoyment

    The approach I suggest at the holidays is the same as I recommend all year: mindful eating! Trying to force yourself to eat less—which is how our brains interpret 'portion control'—puts your attention on what you are giving up. Even if you eat enough to be full, you're still not satisfied.

    However, a focus on mindful eating and enjoyment allows you to fully embrace the meal in front of you and notice when you are full and satisfied. You'll also be more likely to notice when you've had too many rich meals in a row and you're starting to crave something light and fresh! Our body always wants to get back to balance; by noticing how you feel, you can 'control your portions' without having to force it or feel deprived.

    Samantha Holmgren
    Samantha HolmgrenDietitian & Wellness Coach, Anti-Inflammatory Path to Wellness

    Small, Frequent Meals for Gut Health

    I often recommend adopting a strategy of eating small, frequent meals throughout the holidays to manage portion control. This approach is particularly beneficial for individuals with gut health conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), as it's easier on the gut and helps maintain a stable appetite.

    For instance, a successful case involved a client with a post-Crohn's diagnosis who was unable to process large meals. By treating Thanksgiving Day as a normal eating day—starting with her normal breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch at 11 a.m., a snack at 1:30 p.m., a modest Thanksgiving meal at 3 p.m., and a small dinner at 7:30 p.m.—she was able to enjoy the festivities without the usual holiday overindulgence and ended the day feeling as good as she started, without any post-holiday symptoms or regrets.

    Danielle Gaffen
    Danielle GaffenRegistered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Eat Well Crohn's Colitis

    Fill Up on Fiber Before Feasting

    One effective approach to help clients with portion control during the holidays is to eat 5-6 servings of high-fiber, whole foods, including a myriad of fruits and vegetables, before 4 p.m. By filling up on fiber, water, nutrients, and antioxidants, you stave off hunger and give your body what it needs to function optimally. This helps control portion size and temptation when confronted with less healthy holiday treats.

    Kim Ross, Ms, Rd, Cdn
    Kim Ross, Ms, Rd, CdnIntegrative Nutritionist, Kim Ross Nutrition

    Mindful Eating Reduces Overconsumption

    I have found mindful eating to be an effective tool for helping clients manage their portion control during the holidays. This involves eating more slowly, savoring each bite, and paying attention to hunger and fullness cues.

    The opposite of mindful eating is mindless eating, which occurs when food is consumed quickly due to distractions such as TV or phone use. As a result, our brains may not register that we are full, leading to overeating.

    Being more mindful and focused on our food and satiety levels tends to reduce overall food consumption, which can be a useful tool to have during the holidays.

    John Gaule
    John GauleNutritionist, John Gaule Nutrition

    Manage Quantity for Weight Loss

    Losing weight through portion control is a simple yet effective strategy that focuses on managing the quantity of food consumed. By being mindful of portion sizes, individuals can create a calorie deficit, which is crucial for weight loss. This approach allows people to enjoy a variety of foods while still adhering to their weight-loss goals.

    Portion control promotes a balanced and sustainable lifestyle, emphasizing the importance of listening to hunger and fullness cues rather than restrictive diets. It encourages awareness of nutritional needs, fostering a healthier relationship with food that can lead to long-term weight management success.

    Lisa Young
    Lisa YoungNutritionist and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim, Dr. Lisa Young Nutrition