By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
The winter is jam-packed with so many amazing things—holidays, snow days, ski trips and hot chocolate, to new a few. But what it doesn’t have is tons of daylight or time to get outdoors and move your body. Unfortunately, that means more time indoors on the couch with your favorite snacks. For many families, being trapped inside is a license to overeat and pack on the winter pounds. That doesn’t need to be the case! As we head into the holiday season, use these five Dietitian-approved tips to avoid stuffing your face with apple pie and eggnog.
Ask yourself if you would eat an apple
When you feel the urge to nosh, ask yourself if you’re hungry enough to eat an apple. If the answer is no, that’s a good sign that you may be eating for a reason other than hunger, like boredom or stress. If that’s the case, use your free time for a different activity, like family game night or picking up that hobby you meant to get to all summer long.
Have a holiday party plan
Winter weight gain tends to start with holiday parties. After all, it is tough to avoid the tiny appetizers, sugary cocktails and abundance of desserts. If you know you’ve got a holiday party that night (or your kids have one in school), plan out your healthy eating throughout the day. Snacking before a party will prevent you from showing up ravenous and loading your plate with tons of fried appetizers. Have a game plan for how many appetizers, drinks and desserts you will actually eat and stick to it!
EAT your meals!
It may sound crazy to eat in order to avoid eating, but there’s a method to this madness. Skipping meals always leads to overeating…always. Think about the last time you skipped a meal and how much you actually ate when you sat down for your next bite. I would guess that it’s much more that you typically eat. Not to mention that it’s difficult to make healthy choices when you are starving. Make a conscious effort to eat 3 meals per day with a snack or two thrown in there, and you are likely to make healthier food choices.
Hydration really does affect all aspects of life, from hunger to working out. Dehydration often masks itself as hunger, causing many people to overeat when they don’t actually need any extra calories. Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day and make sure it’s full at all times. The insulated ones are great at keeping water cold and tempting you to drink more often. You can also throw a piece of frozen fruit in the bottle to flavor the water. When you feel like you want to reach for food, ask yourself if it’s possible if you’re just thirsty instead?
Don’t keep junk food in the house
I can’t tell you the amount of parents who tell me that they keep cookies, candy and chips around the house for their kids. But they don’t want to eat them. Let me ask you this—if you don’t want to eat them, why should your kid? That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have an Oreo every once in a while, but keeping them around the house is setting yourself up for disaster. Force yourself to go out and brave the cold winter to get your favorite treat. The trek will make you less likely to indulge quite as often. And, of course, stock your kitchen with plenty of healthy snacks, like fruit, nuts and yogurts.