soupWintertime usually means packing on a few extra layers of clothing. Unfortunately, many people use that extra clothing as an excuse to pile on a few extra pounds underneath. In fact, it’s common for healthy eating to end up on the backburner during the winter months.

Some people claim to gain weight on purpose to stay warm, but there are usually other factors at work.

  • Many of the fresh and organic fruits and vegetables healthy people rely on are out of season during the winter, and many folks are reluctant to choose imported or potentially modified alternatives.
  • The cold weather can also lead a person to pursue more “comfort foods” like pot pies and muttons, and the holidays certainly don’t help.
  • And on top of that, many people tend to get emotionally down during the bleak, bland winters, which can lead to “sad snacking” and other careless eating behaviors.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome the threat of winter weight gain and maintain a healthy diet despite the apparent lack of satisfactory fruits and veggies. There are some specific winter eating strategies that can help one beat the winter blues while discovering new and exciting flavors.

Let’s discuss some simple habits that not only help us stay warm during winters but also keep a check on our weight and other health parameters.

Get to the “Root” of Your Diet Problem
If the organic greens, reds and yellows in your local grocery store have been replaced with pre-packed GMO fodder;

  • Consider learning how to add more root veggies to your diet
  • Root veggies like turnips, rutabagas, beets and potatoes are all-weather, high in vitamin content, high in fiber, and make a great substitute for greens on the dinner table.
  • Consider mashing them, roasting them, grilling them or even making them into chips.

Fight Depression with Healthy Snacking
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a big contributor to weight gain during the winter months. The bleak, gray skies and lack of sunlight for months at a time can turn even the biggest go-getter into a chubby couch potato. Although some people combat this with Vitamin D supplements, which have been proven to help stave off depression, others simply snack the blues away. In reality;

  • Any foods that contain “good fats” like Omega-3 will satisfy the urge to eat while simultaneously treating the cause, while B12 rich oats, avocados and eggs can help keep the serotonin flowing.
  • It’s also been suggested that magnesium rich foods like nuts and fish can ward off stress and depression.

Find Solace in Soup
Comfort food is usually about getting that warm, satisfying feeling in one’s stomach;

  • A great way to accomplish this without piling on calories is to consume more soups and fragrant broths in the winter.
  • Southeast Asians and Indians have perfected this approach to eating, with Hot Pots, Pho and other broth-heavy dishes being incredibly common during the colder months.
  • Soup is also a great medium for the mineral-rich root veggies mentioned above.

Focus on Metabolism, Not Just Counting Calories
Even the most dedicated runner will find themselves slacking off when winter comes around. This means that otherwise active people could see a fall off in their metabolic rate, leading to weight gain.

  • One way to prevent this is to fight the problem with the food you eat, not the activities you do.
  • Some people recommend eating mostly easy-to-digest foods like simple proteins and grains, and breaking one’s intake up into smaller meals.
  • This will speed up digestion as well as one’s metabolism – the key to staving off extra pounds.

All in all, there’s no reason one can’t eat healthy during the winter months. All you have to do is figure out what combination of the above techniques satisfies your urge to snack, curtails your depression and keeps your body running lean and mean.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Michelle Holincheck, FNP