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  • Aliza Beer

Winter Weight Gain

While the temperature outside may be steadily dropping, the number on the scale may be doing just the opposite. As the winter months creep up on us, we seem to naturally want to fill our bellies with warm “comfort foods”. The problem is that these foods can often be high in fat and sugar, and may contribute to the added weight. The winter may cause our eating and exercise patterns to veer towards dangerous habits, leading to a winter weight gain.

During the winter our bodies tend to crave warm foods that are comforting and filling, making a green, leafy salad seem much less appealing than a large plate of hot lasagna. But instead of letting macaroni and cheese with a side of hot cocoa covered in whipped cream become a winter staple meal, give your body the warm feeling it is craving from healthier foods instead. One main way to keep the weight gain away is to make sure to have vegetables in addition to hot soups, butternut squash fries, or mashed sweet potatoes. Additionally, making your own soups may be even more advantageous, such as pumpkin soup, cauliflower soup, cabbage soup, or zucchini soup, as you can make sure that you are getting healthy recipes that are chock-full of nutrients. Often when buying pre-made soups, they may be filled with calorie-laden additives, such as heavy cream, full-sodium broths, flour, or even sugar. A tip to get that creamy texture without all the calories is to use a hand blender to blend the vegetables, or to add caramelized onions before blending.

Another important winter staple is eggs. Eggs are a fast, nutritious, easy, and warm dish to make. Fill up an omelet with all kinds of veggies, and you have an excellent breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. Also, stick to warm, steel cut oatmeal topped with fruit as a delicious breakfast option. Whole grains will fill you up, and when eaten hot, they quickly heat up your body. Swap out the chocolate chip cookies hanging around the kitchen and instead try baked apples topped with cinnamon as a delicious snack.

Additionally, another area that adds unnecessary calories are the specialty beverages that are unique to winter. Pumpkin spice lattes filled with sugar, fattening hot cocoas, and sugary apple ciders are just some of the drinks that mark the winter season. While these beverages may keep us warm, they also add to our daily calorie intake. Try swapping these sweetened drinks for different flavors of tea as a toasty beverage and if you feel a craving for a hot cocoa coming on, make it yourself with dark chocolate and fat free milk. Try getting a latte made with almond milk, not skim milk. You will be consuming significantly less calories and sugar. Hot water with lemon is an old diet staple, but it is a very good one. Hot beverages make you feel fuller than cold ones, and lemon will help satiate your appetite.

The winter weight gain does not just come from the foods we eat. As the day gets shorter and it gets darker earlier and earlier, we seem to want nothing more than to stay inside under a cozy blanket watching a movie or reading a book. This time of year is the easiest to skip a workout, stay in bed longer and avoid going out in the cold. But maintaining an exercise regimen is important in maintaining a healthy weight and keeping a healthy lifestyle. Finding a workout buddy can be a great way to stay motivated during the cold season. Making a goal for the springtime, setting an alarm to workout, or scheduling a workout into your calendar can also be encouraging. Sometimes just dressing in workout clothing and stepping outside can be enough of a push to get a good workout in. Setting yourself up to stick to a good exercise routine is key to maintaining your weight during the winter so bundle up, stay warm, and head out for a good workout.

Doing our best to stay warm and stay fit during the cold winter months can seem impossible. As the temperature outside gets lower and lower it seems the number on the scale gets higher and higher. However, the winter weight gain is not inevitable and sticking to healthier foods and drinks that keep you toasty while keeping the scale in check is the key to getting through this season without the excess pounds. Adhering to a regular fitness routine is just as important and making good habits to stay active despite the cold weather will keep you feeling and looking great too. By planning appropriately, choosing the right foods, and adhering to a healthy exercise routine, we can keep the winter weight gain away and enter the spring healthier than ever.

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