Have you ever put on a little, eh, winter weight? You’re not the only one. Research from the National Institutes of Health suggests American adults between the ages of 18 and 49 gain an average of one to two pounds every year. Grazing and overeating tends to increase when the weather cools down. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that, in the fall, people tend to consume more calories, total fat and saturated fat. In the spring, we seem to prefer more carbohydrates. Additionally, depleted sunshine in winter coupled with people bundling up translates into less vitamin D being absorbed by the body, which some researchers believe is linked to weight gain.
To keep your healthy eating plans from being thwarted by cravings for long-time favorite comfort foods when the temperature drops, make a few simple modifications.
If you are prone to snacking, reach for noisy foods, such as apples, carrots or pretzels. Scientists say that when people listen to what they are chewing — called the “crunch effect” — they eat less of that item.
Tone Down the Cream
Delicious dishes like Fettuccine Alfredo typically are made with heaping amounts of butter and cream. Replace cream sauces with a healthier base, like Greek yogurt, cashew cream or low-fat milk thickened with flour. Increase the flavor with favorite spices.
Fry with Care
Use healthy oils like olive or coconut sparingly. Many foods that are traditionally fried also can be lightly coated with cooking spray and baked for a crunchy texture. While avoiding fried foods altogether is truly best, consider buying an air fryer, which can reduce the amount of calories and unhealthy fats in your fried fare.
“Grazing and overeating tends to increase when the weather cools down. “
Choose Sodium-Free Seasonings
Researchers recommend limiting sodium to less than 1 teaspoon of salt per day. While the salt shaker has been a long-time resident of our dinner tables, there are myriad of ways to add outstanding flavor to your food without it: fresh herbs, lemon juice, vinegar, wine or sodium-free stock, to name a few.
Fiber helps you feel fuller longer and can also be helpful for digestion and heart health. Choose the “brown” varieties of rice, pasta and bread.
Lean chicken, turkey and pork can replace red meats in most recipes. Some traditional meat dishes, such as burgers, can be modified using vegetables (black bean burger, anyone?) Lean meats dry out quickly, so keep foods moist by watching cooking times. Most grocery markets now stock plant-based meats, a growing industry to meet public demand for healthy and sustainable protein options.
Stock up on Yogurt
Greek and other varieties of yogurt can replace sour cream and mayonnaise in many dishes. Look for types that contain lactobacillus acidophilus or probiotics.