The signs of the holiday season are everywhere, from Christmas wreaths, Santa Claus and Hanukkah menorahs to radiant red poinsettias and food, food and more food.
Did I mention food?
As the holiday season goes into overdrive, the number of opportunities for detours into nutritional mischief rises. Nor is it easy to track calories when you’re standing at a party, nibbling on hors d’oevres and nursing a drink.
Welcome to week five of the LEAN PLATE CLUB™ Holiday Challenge. The goal of the Challenge, which is being done in partnership with Everyday Health is simply to maintain your weight from now until New Year’s Day 2012. This week’s good goal is to add protein–a valuable ingredient that will help you feel fuller on fewer calories. Plus, protein helps to boost metabolism a little, which means you burn a few more calories–something we can all use this holiday season. For exercise, do 14 minutes more per day than what you were doing for physical activity when you started the challenge.
Today, I hopped on the treadmill for half an hour and read a chapter of the Steve Jobs book on my iPad. Baylor University psychologist John Foreyt first introduced me to the idea of exercising to books on tape, when I was at the Washington Post. Thanks to technology, this has morphed into higher tech tablets that fit nicely on the treadmill and allow me to read while I walk.
Our canine–aka “Coach” — and I are taking long walks to help counteract the added calories that seem to be everywhere. To trim the tree, my husband makes delicious eggnog. Just half a cup has 190 calories–and that’s without the alcohol. So it’s great to have these tools from Everyday Health, including a calorie counter, weight tracker, and the new My Calorie Counter iPhone app, which was just released a week ago.
One way to help stay in balance during the holidays is to eat enough lean protein. Protein is proven to be more satisfying than carbohydrates or fat, which means you may be less likely to feel the need to reach for extra helpings of holiday foods. There’s science to back this up. A team of scientists recently manipulated the percentage of protein in meals provided to a group of 22 lean subjects. They found that lowering the protein in the diet from 15 to 10 percent of food consumed resulted in a 12 percent increase in total calories.
Will this work for everyone? Scientists are still sorting that one out, but in the meantime, you might want to try boosting protein a little. Protein winners include skim milk, soy milk, nonfat cheese, soy nuts, egg whites, dried beans and tree nuts as well as very lean cuts of meat, poultry (without the skin) and fish.
What’s your favorite high protein meal or snack? How are you staying on track this holiday season? Share your tips and tricks. We’ll all looking for inspiration and great ideas. Also check for updates on Twitter @sallysquires