The 5 P’s of Appropriate Holiday Eating

November 23, 2016

For many it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for those watching their waist line this holiday season, it can easily be the most intimidating time of the year.

With Thanksgiving here, it’s easy to lose sight of your weight loss goals and dive head first in to the pumpkin pie; but Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a diet buster. There are things you can do to minimize the impending gluttony.  Below are some tips to a successful Thanksgiving Day that we review with our patients each year; we refer to them at the 5 P’s.

The 5 P’s of Appropriate Holiday Eating:

Plan– According to researchers coordinating the National Weight Control Registry (, over 80% of successful weight managers reported planning their food intake ahead of time helped them break the loss/regain cycle. Having an idea of what might be offered at the Thanksgiving table will help you mentally prepare for how you’d like to divvy out your calories for the day.

Portion Control – Whether you overindulge in sweets and snacks or eat too much of a healthy meal, eating more calories than you burn piles on the pounds. Limiting portion sizes is a great way to control calories and make for occasional treats. Beware of oversized holiday plates at your Thanksgiving dinner this year and instead reach for a salad sized plate for your meal.

Proportionate-Balanced nutrition is key to good health. Food pyramids emphasize creating a nutritionally balanced diet by eating the right amount of foods from the different food groups. Ask yourself, is your Thanksgiving meal well proportioned? Think about dividing your plate into sections and filling half with non-starchy vegetables, ¼ with 3-5ounces (the size of the palm of your hand) of lean meat and the other 1/4 with ½ - 1 cup of carbohydrates. Try to focus on whole grains rather than refined grains.  Check out for more information on the plate method.

Proper Place – Make rules about where you will allow yourself to eat and stick to them. A good place to start is to make the rule that you must serve yourself a reasonable portion of whatever food you are going to eat, then sit down in a specified place to eat it. This cuts down on grazing and binging. This year skip the appetizers and be sure to fix your own plate.

Peaceful – It’s important to “sit and savor” to feel satisfied. This is especially appropriate during a holiday like Thanksgiving in which we are literally giving thanks for the food we eat (among many other things). Sitting and savoring allows you to enjoy the food you are eating and gives your body’s natural calorie counter the time it needs to kick in to action. Remember it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message you have eaten and to turn off your food seeking drive.

It’s important to understand that there is no perfect diet and it’s especially easy to over indulge during the holidays when we are surrounded by friends and family; we are only human after all. Hopefully, keeping these tips in mind when participating in the season can help keep you focused on your long term health goals!
Categories: Nutrition
Topics: Holiday Eating