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Patty Underdahl, left, health promotions coordinator, Naval Branch Health Clinic Albany, speaks to Victoria Herring, spouse and a program participant, about the proper portion sizes to eat during each meal, recently.

Photo by Erin Walkey

Experts stress overeating not a good holiday present

7 Dec 2012 | Erin Walkey Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Healthy eating may be last on everyone’s lists during the holidays, but so people do not end up looking like “Jolly Ole Saint Nick” at the end of the season, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany experts recommend not over indulging when eating.
There are many ways to eat healthier versions of holiday goodies, according to Yvette Ponder, nutrition specialist, Semper Fit.
Having a high sodium content in food can cause long term damages to the body such as high cholesterol and heart attacks, so it is best to use less salt while preparing foods and consuming them.
“It only takes 3,500 calories more than your regular diet to gain one pound,” Patty Underdahl, health promotions coordinator, Naval Branch Health Clinic Albany, said.
Among the holiday tips Underdahl cited for people not wanting to gain weight include taking the skin off of meats such as chicken and turkey because it reduces calorie intake, using seasonings over sauces for main dishes and sides, baking meals instead of frying them, and most importantly, adding more vegetables.
If a person eats greasy foods, his or her attitude may not be the best because he or she might feel bad, Ponder said. If someone eats good, clean foods, he or she will feel better because that person is getting all of the recommended vitamins and minerals, she added.
In addition to trying to consume more vitamins and minerals this holiday season, the experts recommended people also try to pay attention to portion control.
When eating holiday meals, individuals’ eyes tend to be bigger than their stomachs, Ponder said. It is difficult to control overeating when “scarfing down” a meal a person has been waiting all year for and she recommended having a plan of action to help beat overeating.
Underdahl suggested not using a bigger plate so all of the food will fit on it, but using a salad-size plate and controlling portion sizes.
One fourth of the plate should be lean proteins such as white meat turkey and chicken, she said. One fourth of the plate should be grains - try whole grains for a healthier edge - and the other half of the plate should be fruits or vegetables.
Both Ponder and Underdahl advised visiting the website,, for examples of what a proper holiday plate of food should look like.
“I think everything in moderation is good,” Underdahl said. “If you spend time planning before you go into a meal you will be successful. Limit the amount of treats you eat but do not deny yourself the pie.”
Try to keep in mind that eating until one is stuffed is not the best idea for your body, Ponder said, noting it makes individuals more bogged down for the rest of the day.
“It takes 20 minutes before the signal from the stomach gets to the brain saying it is full,” Underdahl said. “Try eating slowly and making conversation with friends and family more important than the food on your plate.”
“When your plate is almost empty then you know you are done,” Ponder said. “Put the fork down in-between bites. Finally, choose what you really want to eat and try to savor it. “Many people try to save up their hunger for one huge meal a day during the holidays. There are many problems with only eating one meal a day such as bloating, gas, indigestion and fatigue, Ponder noted.
Eat little snacks throughout the day to keep metabolism up to speed, Underdahl added.
“Keep it clean and simple,” Ponder said. “Load up on veggies and enjoy what you eat. Do not feel guilty about that piece of dessert, but enjoy it in moderation. Enjoy having your family and friends at the table with you and be thankful for all that you have this holiday season.”

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany