Fill your plate, hold the weight gain!

Pittsburgh Dietitian Blog Posts
November 20, 2014

FILL MY PLATE, HOLD THE WEIGHT GAINWith the Holiday Season right around the corner, most families are filling their refrigerators and bringing out the pants with the elastic band. If your priority this season is to eat yourself into a food coma and sleep through the Thanksgiving Day football game, more power to you! But what about those of us currently focused on losing weight? After months of careful planning the pounds are coming off, and the holidays present a new obstacle many feel unprepared to face. How can we be expected to over come the temptation? The secret lies within the Lifestyle Triad: balance, moderation, and variety. Here are some tips to help you and your goals survive the holiday season.GENERAL TIPS TO PREVENT WEIGHT GAIN

  • Do not expect to lose weight, instead focus on preventing gaining weight.
  • Remember that bodyweight fluctuates throughout the day, so a change on the scale may not reflect fat added.
  • A larger calorie surplus leads to a proportional gain in weight. Even if you eat too much, stopping will allow for damage control.
  • Don’t completely restrict yourself; Allow yourself to enjoy realistic portions of traditional holiday foods.
  • Save your calories for the foods you truly love.


  • Survey the spread before making your plate. It’s always disappointing to get to the heart of a buffet line and see your favorite dish with no room left on your plate (Why did I get the buttered roll and bread?) -Solve this problem before you get in line with some strategic reserving of plate space.
  • Don’t skip breakfast & lunch to save space for a big meal. This will cause overeating, and the meal will be guaranteed to surpass your needs.
  • Eat a snack containing fiber and protein before leaving home to eat less.
  • Limit beverage intake so you can eat your calories instead of drink them.
  • When you are a guest, bring a low calorie dish to share.
  • Try not to hang out near the food.
  • Watch portion sizes. Eat slowly and focus on flavor.
  • Select your preferred carb and fat sources, allocate plate space, and fill the rest in with steamed vegetables!
  • Eat vegetables first to get the body to fill up more quickly.
  • Don’t feel obligated to clean your plate if you get full sooner than expected.
  • Eat until satisfied not stuffed; you can always eat again in a couple hours!
  • Stop eating frequently to socialize.


  • Walking, running, stair climbing can be done anywhere and takes 30 minutes.
  • Resistance bands fit into suitcases and can work out the entire body.
  • Tabata, cross fit, yoga, and many other exercises can be done in a home with limited space in less than 30 minutes.
  • Most towns have a Thanksgiving 5k walk/run (“Turkey Trot”) -Start a new tradition!
  • Do an outdoor activity (weather permitting) before the big feast.


  • Reduce fat by replacing oil with applesauce in baking.
  • Use a banana as a substitute for oil or butter.
  • Reduce sugar and fat in recipes by adding protein sources.
  • Greek Yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream, and can be used with spices and mixes to a make high protein, low fat, low carbohydrate dips! This greatly reduces the calories eaten subconsciously (Damage control).
  • Using spray butter to flavor your mashed potatoes is a great way to reduce calories and save flavor!
  • Use an egg white and 1 Tbsp of powdered flax seed instead of a whole egg.
  • Use ground oatmeal, almond flour, and coconut flour instead of white flour to reduce calories and add a unique taste to the dish.
  • Almond milk can be used to replace milk in recipes. Choose unsweetened for the best calorie savings.
  • Use nuts and dried fruit in baking mixes to add flavor and texture instead of candied bits and frosting.
  • Black Bean brownies sound odd to many, but are very hard to distinguish from normal brownies.
  • Oats can be used for breadcrumbs. This isn't guaranteed to provide a reduction in calories, but usually has more fiber than the bread it replaces.


  • Winter squash and pumpkin can be used in sweet & savory recipes.
  • Good sources of complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
  • Contains Beta-carotene, vitamin C, Riboflavin, Iron.
  • Functional Ingredients in pies, cookies, custards, soups, side dish.
  • Pumpkin Seeds can be toasted for high-fiber snack.
  • Contains phytosterols, folate, tocopherols, carotenoids, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.
  • Bright orange and yellow squash (ex. Butternut)
  • Commonly sliced, stewed, boiled, and baked.
  • Contains Carotenes, lutein, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Acorn and Hubbard squash are good sources of potassium and fiber.
  • Apples
  • Crab, bramley, jonathan best for pies, cakes, crisps, and chutneys.
  • Golden or Red Delicious best for eating.
  • Contain phytosterols, quercetin, vitamin C, beta-carotene, and lutein.
  • Source of Pectin: Soluble fiber, which slows digestion and helps, reduce cholesterol.

Remember, moderation is key. You can enjoy the food and your surroundings without eating excessive quantities. Planning ahead and keeping some of these tips in mind should help you navigate your holiday offering!

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