Ninja Tip to Really Enjoy Your Pumpkin Pie and Keep the Pounds Off

Who is looking forward to the rapidly approaching holidays?

With the holidays coming up we get time to spend with loved ones and show them how much we care.

Often this is done through food.

We bake cookies, bars, and tarts to share with friends, family, and co-workers. We have people over for huge, unbutton-your-pants-and-lie-down-on-the-floor feasts. We overindulge on piggies in a blanket and eggnog at holiday parties. We give chocolates as gifts. And if you’re like me, you wake up just a little bit earlier every day in December because you know there’s a piece of chocolate waiting for you behind a cardboard door.

Because of all of this it is very difficult to lose weight or even maintain weight during the holidays. In fact, Americans typically gain about one pound during the winter holiday season that they are not able to lose.

So I want to give you one easy tip to help you maintain your weight during the holiday season.

Sensory-specific satiety

Picture this: You grab a big scoop of stuffing, bite into it, and start dancing in your chair as the flavors dance around in your mouth. As you continue to eat and start to feel full, the stuffing seems less and less tasty. But you still have space for the turkey and sweet potatoes and green beans you had been ignoring on your plate. And you still have space for some mashed potatoes when they come out of the oven. And your first bite of each is delicious!

Has this ever happened to you? This is called sensory-specific satiety.

As a food is consumed, it becomes perceived as less pleasant compared to other foods.

One study tested whether the change in ratings of pleasantness after eating a food is related to either the amount of food or to its calorie content.

The study

On each of 3 days, 36 women consumed one of four variations of a food that differed in volume and calorie content, but were matched for palatability and nutrient composition. The women rated the pleasantness of the food immediately before and after eating it.

The findings

The researchers found that doubling the volume of the food while keeping calories constant significantly decreased pleasantness of the food and increased sensory-specific satiety.

Doubling the calorie content of the food without changing its volume did not affect perceived pleasantness or sensory-specific satiety.

These results suggest that the amount of food that is consumed has a greater influence on perceived pleasantness of a food than calorie content does.

In other words, eating a small bite of a high-calorie food will not make us feel any more full than the same size bite of a low-calorie food.

What you need to know

The first few bites of food taste the best (no matter how high in calories it is) so enjoy a few bites from each of your favorite holiday dishes and allow yourself to savor the season.

After the first few bites, the pleasure we get from the food decreases so take only a small serving and take the time to enjoy every bite… leftovers will be there tomorrow when your taste buds are fresh to enjoy the food all over again.

What’s your secret to keep holiday eating under control?

Does Dish Size Affect How Much We Eat?

Most of us decide how much to eat before we put any food into our mouths.

We eyeball how much we want, dish it out, and then eat until it’s gone.

One study shows how larger dishes lead to serving greater amounts, leading us to consume more calories.

The study

In this study, distinguished professors and Ph.D. nutrition students were invited to an ice cream social. These guests were given either medium-sized or large bowls upon arrival. They were allowed to serve themselves as much ice cream as they wanted.

When these hungry party-goers weren’t paying attention, an experimenter weighed their ice cream bowls.

The findings

Those that were given the larger sized bowls dished out about 31% more ice cream than those given a smaller bowl.

That’s an extra 127 calories!

What you need to know

As the size of our dishes increase, so does the amount of food we scoop onto them.

Large dishes make our food look so small so we serve ourselves more.

The smaller the serving dish, the less you take and the less you eat.


Use smaller bowls and plates to keep yourself from taking too much and eating too much.

Have you ever been to a fancy restaurant and noticed how small some food looks on big plates?


Healthy Eating: Is it Too Expensive?

Many people claim that they can’t afford to eat healthy but are healthy foods really more expensive? A new report from the USDA Economic Research Service had some interesting findings.

The Study

In this study, the researchers compared the prices of foods three ways. They compared:

  • the price per calorie ($/kcal)
  • the price per edible weight ($/edible grams)
  • and the price per average portion ($/average portion).

They compared healthy foods (those that contain one of the major food groups and only moderate amounts of saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium) to moderation foods (those high in saturated fat, added sugar, or sodium, or those that have little nutritional value.


What they found is that healthy foods actually cost less than less healthy foods when you look at the price by weight and price per average portion. Moderation foods cost less per calorie, meaning you get more weight gain for your buck. Got it? Let me explain:

Foods low in calories for a given weight seem more expensive when the price is measured per calorie. For example, vegetables and fruits, which are low in calories, tend to be a relatively expensive way to buy calories. So if you have $1 and are absolutely starving, vegetables and fruits aren’t going to be your best choice. Moderation foods tend to be high in calories and to have a low price per calorie.

When measured by edible weight or average portion size, grains, vegetables, fruit, and dairy foods are less expensive than most protein foods and moderation foods. Grains, vegetables, fruit, and dairy also tend to have a lower percentage of calories per weight compared to protein foods and less healthy foods because they typically contain more water and are lower in fat.

This figure is one of many from the report

What You Need to Know

So what does this all mean to you? Well, it is less costly to meet the MyPlate recommendations for grains, dairy, and fruit than it is for vegetables or protein foods. If you want to throw in a few extra calories of moderation food, that shouldn’t be too costly either. If you want to eat healthy and not take in more calories than you need, it will actually be less costly overall to choose the healthy foods more often than moderation foods.

And if you don’t believe a single word I said, you can read the full report here.

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