All About Holiday Portion Control

The holidays are great. The holiday food is also great. But too much can derail any healthy eating habits you’ve developed. Especially for seniors, the need to focus on nutrition is important to maintain your weight over the holidays.

But Why Not the Pie!

As we age, our metabolism slows down. The body isn’t able to use or process foods as efficiently or as easily as it used to. Add to that the influx of foods (and most often rich foods) during the holidays and the digestive system really starts working overtime.

“Overeating leads not only to weight gain but also to heart disease and potentially diabetes,” says Katie Mersinger, Regional Dietician for Meridian Village. “Being aware of what you’re eating and having a plan in place beforehand can reduce the stress on your body (and the stress after the holidays) of having eaten too much.”

It’s All About Portion Control

Food moderation can be difficult when first trying it out. But the benefits to making sure you get just the right amount of food your body needs, will have you thankful during the post-holiday season.

“Think about this way,” says Katie. “ Make your plate into a clock to help you figure out how to portion control meal items. That way as you’re dishing up, you’ll have an easy reference for how much of what should be on your plate.”

  • 12 – 6 o’clock: Fill your plate with any sort of fruit and vegetables you want in the 12 to 6 o’clock space. This could be a salad, cooked or steamed vegetables, or anything of the sort.
  • 6 – 8 o’clock: This is your grains section. Try to pick things that are high in fiber such as whole-wheat pastas and breads.
  • 8 – 10 o’clock: Choose a lean protein such as turkey or chicken. Add a handful of that nut mix sitting out on the table and you’re good to go!
  • 10 – 12 o’clock: Time to indulge your sweet tooth. Pick a sweet treat to finish off the meal but also remember that the holiday season is long, so don’t feel pressured.

“As a dietician, during the holiday season I frequently find that we’re not exercising as much, plus on top of that is all the extra food,” says Katie. “Eating just until we are content instead of until we are stuffed is key, which is ultimately what portion control is all about.”

Three Ways to Politely Decline Seconds or Thirds


We’ve all been there. The meal was delicious, but you’re full. No need for seconds or thirds. But how do you politely decline? Here are three easy phrases to keep those food pushers at bay.


“Sorry, but I don’t like/can’t eat [insert ingredient here].”

It’s hard to argue with someone’s food preferences. Follow up with a compliment on how nice the dish looks or the amazing smells. Your food pusher will be placated that you would eat the dish if only you could, plus the compliment will soothe any ego that might have awakened.


“I’ll try it in a bit!”

Stalling is a great tactic when faced with a food pusher. The odds are in your favor that they won’t follow you around until you’ve actually tried it. If they happen to ask you before leaving if you tried it, you can always say it slipped your mind and you’ll have to try it another time.


 “I’m afraid it would be so delicious I wouldn’t be able to stop.”

They do say honesty is the best policy. This phrase is the polite but firm, “thanks, but no thanks,” that can keep you from being forced to add food to your plate. If they keep persisting, it might be time for you to take them aside and address the issue.