The shorter days of winter usually bring about a reduction of physical activity and an increase in dietary challenges. Here are the top 5 tips to avoid putting on the pounds that are usually associated with our winter “hibernation” in the Northwest:
#1 Get Moving
You can get to the gym, run stairs if you have them, do floor exercises at home, do mall walking (no stopping in the stores). If you walk, get a pedometer and cover a minimum of 10,000 steps. When you maintain activity of at least 30 minutes daily and work up a sweat, your immune system will stay healthy and the weight will stay off.
#2 Eat Seasonal
There is a desire to eat more in the fall and winter as if you were going to hibernate. Even though the instinct is present, humans do not hibernate. Our diets should shift a bit to eat more foods that are in- season and local. In the Northwest, this means hardy deep greens, romaine, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, squash etc. Eating small amounts of fruit that will store, i.e. apples, frozen blueberries and Bosc pears, will help keep the system tuned up and clean.
#3 Downsize (your tableware)
A strategy to keep from over-eating that works anytime is to use a small plate instead of a full size dinner plate. The same amount of food will appear larger when placed on a small plate. The mind sees this as a bounty of food and will be easily satisfied. Remember to fill the small plate just once. Eat small amounts frequently to avoid the sensation of hunger that leads many to over-eating.
#4 Keep Dehydrated
Another key is to keep up on water. It is easy to get dehydrated in the winter because we are in heated environments that are usually dry. The dryness draws the moisture from our system without us realizing it. If one is dehydrated in the cold, several things can happen including chills, cracked lips and joint pains. Viruses and bacteria also thrive in a dehydrated host because the immune system function is diminished.
#5 Give Yourself Small Concessions
When you feel that craving for treats, allow yourself a “one bite taste” of 1 or 2 items and then compensate by eating a slightly higher intake of protein and complex carbohydrates. Drink more water and if you over- indulge, exercise more (60 minutes daily). One dietary indiscretion does not mean that you have completely fallen from the healthy path.
The bottom line is to enjoy each day and the passage of time knowing that you are keeping the body well fit and fed.