Healthy Holidays: Staying Fed & Portion Control
During the holidays we have a tendency to either under eat or over eat, but with some simple practices you can avoid the "over-stuffed, may-never-leave-the-couch-again" feeling.
The first thing to remember is to never go hungry.
When we are really hungry we tend to put more food on our plates and we are more likely to overeat, resulting in that "about-to-pop" feeling. If you go into a meal on an empty stomach, the resulting blood sugar spike may leave you feeling groggy or confused. You can fight back against this by eating a balanced breakfast with adequate protein and snacking throughout the day to keep your blood sugar at a somewhat constant level.
Try any of these protein-rich snacks!
- Try a trail mix! Nuts and seeds are natural vegetarian protein sources. When mixed with dried fruit and maybe even a sweet bit of chocolate, this snack is tasty and easy to take on the go. Try a variety of trail mix recipes here!
- String Cheese. This may make you feel like a little kid, but cheese is high in protein and calcium and is a great snack to take on the run.
- Milk. Grab a milk on the go! Chocolate milk will work too!
- Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is high in protein and will help you feel full until your next pit stop.
- Hummus. Luckily they make small portion-sized hummus containers now. These are an easy and tasty way to snack in a hurry.
Try eating a high protein (10 grams or above) breakfast option to keep you going strong all morning and through the day.
- Eggs with cheese. Hard boil your eggs ahead of time to make them even easier to grab. Scrambled eggs with a protein-rich cheese is a great way to start the day.
- Greek yogurt parfait. Adding nuts and seeds or a whole grain granola to protein-rich Greek yogurt will having you fueled up in no time.
- Peanut butter with fresh fruit. Try peanut butter with a banana in the morning. It is a yummy sweet breakfast and has a ton of protein.
- Oatmeal. Top your oatmeal with nuts, fruit, or even peanut butter for an added protein boost.
- Whole grain avocado toast. Try a hearty whole grain toast smeared with avocado and topped with your favorite breakfast meat, like BACON!
Practicing portion control is not just about controlling how much you eat, but it is also about listening to how much your body actually needs.
Hunger cues are the series of sign and signals that our body sends us to tell us that we are either hungry or full. Your digestion process begins before you even start eating. From the time that we see, smell, or even think about food our body starts to produce digestive enzymes in preparation for eating. It takes approximately 20 minutes for our stomach to send the message to our brains that we are getting full.
There are many tactics that we can use to improve on our portion control and the ability to listen to our hunger cues.
- Limit distractions
- Stay hydrated
Slow down and be a MINDFUL eater (pay attention to hunger cues)
Stealth Health Cooking Tip:
The focus for our stealth health tip today is lean proteins. We have talked a lot about the many benefits of eating protein in general throughout our series. Protein helps tremendously with portion control by keeping us feeling full while it staves off hunger and cravings. Protein-rich foods are also usually high in vital nutrients like zinc, B vitamins, and iron. Protein-rich foods from animal sources can also be very high in saturated fats and LDL cholesterol, which we want to limit in our diet. So, our focus needs to be on lean proteins, which are typically higher in healthy oils and fats that our bodies need.
So, you can try any of the typical lean proteins like:
- Lean pork tenderloin
Wait a minute… where’s the beef? Did you know that there are 29 different cuts of lean beef that all have a fat content between that of a boneless skinless chicken breast and a bone-in skinless chicken thigh? Some of those cuts include: eye round, bottom round, and top round roasts, shoulder roasts, flank steak, sirloin, brisket, 95% lean ground beef, and even t-bone’s!
There are plenty of vegetarian proteins as well like:
- Nuts and Seeds. Incorporating more nuts and seeds into your diet is proven to help prevent and stave off heart disease. You can try having them as a snack or as part of meal. You can even replace the protein in a meal with nuts that are used in a creative way! Try the recipe below!
- Beans and Peas. Beans and peas can serve as a protein replacement in a meal. Try different types of hummus made from beans and peas. Try making a falafel or black bean burger as a dinner sometime soon!
- Quinoa. There are many types of protein-rich grains out there, but quinoa is actually a complete protein. This means that there are abundant enough amounts of each essential amino acid to truly replace an animal protein. Although quinoa appears to be a grain, it is actually a seed. Try replacing rice in your next meal with a serving of quinoa instead.
- Tofu and Tempeh. Soy products can act as a protein replacement as well. Tofu contains all of the essential amino acids, but is lower in one specific one. This means that tofu and tempeh will act more like a complete protein and be more beneficial to you if enjoyed with a bean or pea.
Try switching up your protein sources this season! It will benefit the health of you and your family and help you feel healthier into the new year!
Stealth Health Recipe
Cashew Alfredo Pasta
This is a super stealth health recipe. A secretly decadent comfort food that is packed with healthy lean protein. Don’t feel guilty if you go back for seconds!
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 cup raw whole cashews
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Notes: This recipe calls for the use of a high powered blender or food processor. The cashews need to be pulverized into a creamy pulp. If you don’t think that your food processor has the guts for the job, or if you want to be safe, try soaking the cashews in water overnight to soften them up. Be sure to drain them properly before using.
Using a large saute pan, over medium heat, add the onion and 3/4 cup of broth.
Cook for approximately 5-6 minutes, or until the onion has become translucent and is very tender. If all of your broth evaporates in this process, feel free to add more as necessary.
Add the garlic and saute for an additional 3 minutes or until the garlic becomes very fragrant. Take care not to burn the garlic.
At this point all of your broth should have evaporated. If not, continue cooking until it has nearly or completely gone.
Add the cooked onion mixture to your blender or food processor along with the remaining broth and the remaining ingredients.
Blend on high for a few minutes (or pulse if you are using a processor), until the mixture has become creamy and smooth.
If the consistency is too thick you can add more broth as needed. Taste and add salt and pepper to your taste.
Serve over your favorite pasta! Try it with extra vegetables, another protein like chicken or fish, or on it’s own.