Portion sizes key to warding off extra weight gain during holidays - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Portion sizes key to warding off extra weight gain during holidays


MADISON (WKOW) -- Every year, many of us pledge not to gain weight over the holidays. And every year, the average American eats his way through 5 to 15 extra pounds between now and January 1st.  It's okay to overload on special days like Thanksgiving. But it's really important in the days following, to exercise portion control.

Ah, the traditional Thanksgiving meal. "Oh, I would say about 10 ounces of meat. It takes up about half the plate," says Marianne Merrick, a registered dietician at St. Mary's Hospital. 

And mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans. "A good cup or more of the stuffing..." says Merrick.

Merrick supersized a plate of Thanksgiving food - the equivalent of your first and second servings. She says this 2800 calorie plate of food is okay for one day. But after that.

"Portion sizes are really the key to being able to have everything that's offered during the holiday season," says Merrick.

That begs the question, what's a portion? The palm of your hand is the equivalent of about 3 ounces of meat. A woman's fist is about a cup of food -- and you're aiming for half a cup. And everyday objects, like a baseball, come in handy when you're trying to "picture" a portion size.

According to Foodnetwork.com, a deck of cards equals a serving of meat. A tennis ball is a serving of pasta. That baseball, a small bowl of raw veggies. One compact disc is one pancake - the equivalent of one serving.

After Thanksgiving take a more rational approach. This plate of leftovers is about 1500 calories. Half the portions, about half the calories.

"Fill up on some of the high fiber, good veggies before you actually sit down and you probably won't be starving. It's not good to be starving when sitting down to the holiday meal," says Merrick.

Merrick also encourages strategies like using low fat foods and reducing sugar in recipes. But most important: Be intentional about your portions.

Other cooking tips from Merrick:

-Use low fat condensed milk for your pumpkin pie and/or eliminate the bottom crust and use a top lattice crust ( or use a cookie cutter to cut out a few decorative shapes from the crust for the top)
-Green bean casserole healthy makeover: Use low-fat cream of mushroom soup; top with caramelized  onions (cook onions in a small amount of oil until brown) and panko ( Japanese bread crumbs) for crunch.
-Replace half the fat in baked holiday breads with the same amount of unsweetened applesauce.
-replace half the fat in stuffing with low sodium fat-free broth.
-add only 1/4 cup of orange juice and orange zest  in whipped sweet potatoes.

Merrick also likes the articles at these websites:  USA Weekend and eHow.

Online Reporter: Barbara Vaughan


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