How Protein Can Help You Resist Unhealthy Holiday Temptations

The holidays are a time to be around friends, family, and of course, food.  But many of our holiday treats and dishes can often be high in calories but low in the nutrients and vitamins our bodies need.  One way to resist unhealthy sweets and foods this season is to incorporate more protein into every meal and cut back on carbs and fat—you’ll feel more full, so you’ll eat less and cut down on snacking. Protein is important because it helps you build and maintain lean muscle mass; it’s the foundation for bones, muscles, skin, blood and connective tissue. The USDA recommends adults eat 5.5 to 6 ounces per day. (This varies, however, depending on age and activity level.)

Protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, legumes and seeds also supply B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium. So when you’re adding protein and cutting back on empty calories, you’re getting the benefit of extra nutrients your body needs.

Here are some ways to swap in protein as you navigate all the holiday temptations:

You don’t have to completely avoid your favorite holiday foods. One trick is to skip the foods you can eat year-round like chocolate chip cookies and taste the special treats you can only get this time of year like gingerbread. And don’t forget to keep up (or begin!) your exercise routine – you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll look great in your holiday best.

Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND –Sr.Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training

Susan BowermanM.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training

Susan Bowerman earned a B.S. in biology with distinction from the University of Colorado, and received her M.S. in food science and nutrition from Colorado State University. She is a registered dietitian, holds two board certifications from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a certified specialist in sports dietetics, and a certified specialist in obesity and weight management, and is a Fellow of the Academy.