No need to be a Scrooge about your diet. Our plan lets you indulge and still lose weight.

By Mindy Berry

Your Holiday Diet Plan

Rolls of wrapping paper have hijacked your dining room table. Your calendar is crammed with work, school, and social events. You'd like to eat right this time of year, but who has the time? Surprise: We've got an easy-to-follow holiday diet plan for you. Stick to this menu all week and you can eat what you want come party time! Harley Pasternak, a celebrity weight-loss expert and author of The 5-Factor Diet (Meredith Books), thinks it's sad when someone refuses pie and ice cream. "What good is your health if you aren't enjoying life?" asks Pasternak, who has worked with stars like Alicia Keys, Eva Mendes, and Mandy Moore. So go ahead and enjoy eating with this menu plan — developed with Pasternak's help, using great recipes from his book — and lose weight while you're at it!

Focus on the Number 5

Eat five times a day. Besides three main meals, have two substantial snacks so you never get hungry.

Try to include these five components in every meal:

  1. A lean protein, such as chicken, fish, egg whites.
  2. Filling carbs, like sweet potatoes, beans, brown rice, or oatmeal.
  3. Healthy fats (olive oil or nuts).
  4. Strive for 5 grams of fiber, from fruits, vegetables, or whole grains.
  5. A sugar-free beverage: water, sugar-free soda, tea, coffee, or an unsweetened energy drink.
    Exercise five days a week. Find 25 minutes to hop on a treadmill, take Pilates or walk with a friend.


Breakfast: Filling Cereal

One cup of high-fiber cereal with protein, with 1/4 cup berries and 1 cup nonfat milk.Per serving: 298 calories; 4g fat (0g sat.); 18g protein; 53g carbohydrate; 9g fiber; 226mg sodium; 5mg cholesterol.

Snack: Apple with Peanut Butter

Combine 2 teaspoons peanut butter with 1/4 cup nonfat cream cheese and dip one sliced apple.Per serving: 183 calories; 7g fat (2g sat.); 11g protein; 22g carbohydrate; 4g fiber; 368mg sodium; 5mg cholesterol.

Lunch: Chicken Fingers and Fries


  • 1 sweet potato, cut into sticks
  • 5 1/2 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 slices stale whole-grain bread, ground
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread sweet potato sticks on a sheet pan coated with cooking spray. Season with cinnamon, salt, and pepper to taste. Bake for 25 minutes.
  2. Dip chicken strips into egg whites and then coat with bread. Spray a nonstick skillet with oil and heat on the stove. Cook chicken until brown, turning once. Leave on medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Place the broccoli in a bowl with a little water and salt. Microwave for 2 minutes and season with Mrs. Dash. Serves 2.

Per serving: 341 calories; 3g fat (0g sat.); 33g protein; 53g carbohydrate; 13g fiber; 440mg sodium; 50mg cholesterol.

Snack: Edamame with Cheese

1/4 cup edamame with one stick part-skim string cheesePer serving: 125 calories; 8g fat (4g sat.); 11g protein; 4g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 244mg sodium; 20mg cholesterol.

Dinner: Seared Halibut with Brown Rice and Creamed Spinach


  • 5 ounces halibut fillets
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 pound spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup nonfat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup nonfat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 2/3 cups cooked instant brown rice

Season the halibut fillets with lemon pepper and some salt. Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat. Add the halibut and sear on each side. Then cover the pan and cook until the fish flakes when tested with a fork. Set aside.

Cook the spinach in a nonstick pan over medium heat until wilted. Transfer the spinach to a strainer and press out as much liquid as possible. Return the spinach to the pan. Add the cream cheese, sour cream, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until hot. Microwave the brown rice for one minute. Serves 2.

Per serving: 398 calories; 5g fat (1g sat.); 33g protein; 57g carbohydrate; 8g fiber; 1,198mg sodium; 30mg cholesterol.


Breakfast: Out-the-Door Oatmeal

Quaker Oatmeal to Go Bars have 5 grams of filling fiber. Add a piece of fruit and go.

Snack: Hummus and Celery

3 tablespoons hummus with a sliced celery stalk.Per serving: 88 calories; 5g fat (0g sat.); 4g protein; 9g carbohydrate; 4g fiber; 228mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol.

Lunch: Three-Ingredient Salad

Toss 1/4 pound fat-free turkey breast with 2 cups greens and 1/4 cup fat-free dressing.Per serving: 143 calories; 1g fat (0g sat.); 19g protein; 15g carbohydrate; 1g fiber; 2,028mg sodium; 41mg cholesterol.

Snack: Pear and Ricotta

One sliced pear spread with 1/4 cup nonfat ricotta cheese.Per serving: 168 calories; 1g fat (0g sat.); 9g protein; 35g carbohydrate; 5g fiber; 80mg sodium; 5mg cholesterol.

Dinner: Rotisserie Chicken

Pick up a roasted chicken at the grocery store, plus 5 bunches of collard greens and 3 cups of canned black-eyed peas. Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat. Add the collard greens and 2 cloves garlic, minced, and cook until the greens are bright green. Add salt, pepper, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar. Season black-eyed peas in a bowl with salt and pepper. Microwave for 1 minute. Serves 2.Per serving: 599 calories; 25g fat (7g sat.); 32g protein; 63g carbohydrate; 17g fiber; 1,441mg sodium; 46mg cholesterol.


Breakfast: Egg Casserole


  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion, white part only
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup shredded nonfat mozzarella
  • 4 slices whole-grain bread, toasted
  1. Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat. Add the tomato and scallion and cook until scallion is light golden.
  2. Whisk in the egg whites and half of the shredded cheese. Cook and stir until the egg white mixture is almost set. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spoon the scrambled eggs into a small casserole and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Microwave until the cheese is melted. Serve with toast. Serves 2.

Per serving: 193 calories; 1g fat (0g sat.); 22g protein; 25g carbohydrate; 7g fiber; 947mg sodium; 7mg cholesterol.

Snack: Berry Protein Shake

Blend: 1 cup nonfat milk, ice, 1/2 cup strawberries, 3/4 cup raspberries, and 1/4 scoop protein powder (100 percent whey).Per serving: 226 calories; 2g fat (0g sat.); 20g protein; 33g carbohydrate; 9g fiber; 249mg sodium; 4mg cholesterol.

Lunch: Make-Your-Own Antipasto

Toss together 2 cups canned artichoke hearts, 1 cup diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup cubed nonfat mozzarella cheese, 1 ounce cubed deli-style fat-free turkey and 1/2 cup fat-free balsamic vinaigrette.Per serving: 523 calories; 0g fat (0g sat.); 48g protein; 74g carbohydrate; 4g fiber; 4,344mg sodium; 22mg cholesterol.

Snack: Edamame with Cheese

See Monday snacks.

Dinner: Burrito Night!

Saute 4 chicken tenders. Coarsely chop lettuce, a tomato, and a small onion. Divide equally among two whole wheat tortillas and top with a tablespoon each of salsa, nonfat sour cream, and nonfat shredded cheddar cheese. Wrap and eat. Serves 2.Per serving: 271 calories; 5g fat (1g sat.); 26g protein; 31g carbohydrate; 6g fiber; 646mg sodium; 46mg cholesterol.


Breakfast: Fully Charged Fruit Salad


  • 4 oranges
  • 1 scoop protein powder (100 percent whey)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup nonfat cottage cheese
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  1. Peel and section three oranges and squeeze the juice from the fourth.
  2. Whisk the juice, protein powder, and ginger into the cottage cheese.
  3. Spoon the cottage cheese into bowls and top with orange sections, apple wedges, and strawberries. Serves 2.

Per serving: 449 calories; 3g fat (0g sat.); 30g protein; 83g carbohydrate; 17g fiber; 494mg sodium; 10mg cholesterol.

Snack: Apple with P.B.

See Monday snacks.

Lunch: Chinese Takeout!

Black bean and shrimp stir-fry. Keep in mind: One restaurant serving often contains enough calories for two! So share or save half.

Snack: Carrot Sticks and No-Guilt Onion Dip

Mix 3/4 cup nonfat sour cream, 1/2 cup nonfat cream cheese, and 1 tablespoon dry onion soup mix. Dip 1 cup baby carrots. Serves 2.Per serving: 185 calories; 2g fat (1g sat.); 14g protein; 27g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 680mg sodium; 13mg cholesterol.

Dinner: Argentine-Style Steak Salad


  • 1/4 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dried cilantro
  • 6 ounces bison steak
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 4 ounces watercress, washed and dried
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, Dijon mustard, cilantro, salt, and pepper.
  2. Season the steak with cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat. Sear steak on each side to desired doneness; slice.
  3. Toss the watercress with the dressing.
  4. Top with steak slices and garnish with radishes. Serves 2.

Per serving: 154 calories; 4g fat (1g sat.); 21g protein; 8g carbohydrate; 4g fiber; 464mg sodium; 60mg cholesterol.


Breakfast: Filling Cereal

Cereal again. Make it 1 cup of high-fiber cereal, such as Kashi Go Lean Crunch or Special K with protein. Top with 1/4 cup berries and 1 cup nonfat milk.

Snack: Divine Lemon Yogurt

Whisk together 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt, 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon sugar substitute. Per serving: 207 calories; 2g fat (1g sat.); 13g protein; 33g carbohydrate; 0g fiber; 186mg sodium; 14mg cholesterol.

Lunch: Amy's Organic Lentil Soup

Just 1 cup provides 9 grams of fiber (that's almost half a day's worth), along with healthy fats and protein.

Snack: Hummus and Celery

See Tuesday snacks.

Dinner: Friday Night Pizza


  • 4 large whole-grain or whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup nonfat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup shredded nonfat mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet and bake for 2 minutes.
  2. Spoon half of the tomato sauce over the tortillas and spread with ricotta cheese. Spoon on the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle with sun-dried tomatoes and shredded mozzarella.
  3. Bake until cheese is melted. Serves 2.

Per serving: 584 calories; 16g fat (3g sat.); 40g protein; 79g carbohydrate; 15g fiber; 2,161mg sodium; 15mg cholesterol.


Breakfast: French Toast with Ricotta


  • 2/3 cup egg whites
  • 2/3 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar substitute
  • 2 slices whole-grain bread
  • 1/8 cup nonfat ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Whisk together the egg whites, milk, sugar substitute, and salt. Soak the bread in the egg white mixture. Drain the excess liquid.
  2. Coat nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat. Cook the bread, one slice at a time, until each side is set and bread is lightly browned.
  3. To serve: Place the French toast on a plate and top with ricotta and cinnamon. Serves 1.

Per serving: 265 calories; 1g fat (0g sat.); 28 g protein; 37g carbohydrate; 7g fiber; 868mg sodium; 10mg cholesterol.

Snack: Berry Protein Shake

See Wednesday snacks.

Lunch: Bun-Less BLT

Microwave one strip of turkey bacon for 3 minutes or until crisp. Crumble it and sprinkle on top of 1 cup of salad greens, along with 3 ounces of deli-style fat-free turkey, one sliced tomato. Drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar.

Per serving: 130 calories; 4g fat (1g sat.); 16g protein; 9g carbohydrate; 1g fiber; 1,108mg sodium; 43mg cholesterol.

Snack: Carrot Sticks and No-Guilt Onion Dip

See Thursday snacks.

Dinner: Take the Family Out for Italian!

Order minestrone soup or a tomato salad to start, followed by grilled white fish, such as striped sea bass or swordfish. Treat yourself to a small dish of sorbet.


Free Day!

Eat what you've been craving — whether it's a drive-thru burger for lunch or the dessert buffet tonight. Remember, your free day doesn't have to be Sunday. If your favorite holiday party is happening Friday night and that's when you want to splurge, just swap days.

What the Celebs Say

Some Hollywood celebs are big fans of the meal plan from The 5-Factor Diet. Here's what they have to say:

"With this plan, the focus is not on starving yourself but on healthful living so you don't feel like you're missing out on the foods you love. One you get started, you get addicted to looking, feeling, and living your best.

— Alicia Keys

"Not only do I feel better than ever, but I now can have guilt-free pizza anytime and that has made me a happy girl."

— Eva Mendes

"I can't believe there is healthy food that tastes this good. I've never been in better shape."

— Kanye West

"I love the 5-Factor meals and can't believe how good I feel."

— Mandy Moore

"This is not a diet, in the sense that there's nothing to fall off of. There's nothing to say goodbye to, and nothing to long for. It is almost too good to be true."

— John Mayer

Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the December 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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