As we head into March and winter comes to an end, this is a good time to take a look at the added pounds many of us put on over the winter months and our overall health and nutritional habits. Putting on extra pounds over the winter months is a common problem since we don’t get outside to exercise as much due to cold weather, rain, snow, and ice. Also with the daylight hours being shorter, there isn’t as much time after work to get outside before it is dark. Along with shorter daylight hours and more time spent indoors, many people turn to comfort foods during the winter to make themselves feel better. Then of course we have the holidays during the winter that encourage overeating and eating of foods that aren’t always healthy choices. So it’s no wonder we tend to put on some extra weight during this time of the year. The best plan would be of course to exercise moderation in eating those less than healthy foods and continue an exercise program indoors throughout the winter so as not to put on extra weight. If that didn’t happen though, the next best plan is to not let the weight get out of control and use Spring as a springboard to get back into healthy eating and exercise.
March is National Nutrition Month so there are lots of good tips for getting rid of that winter weight gain and for improving nutritional habits on the internet. The website from the USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov, is full of resources such as a calculator to figure out how many calories you should consume for your sex, age, weight, and height, foods to include in a healthy eating plan, how to get more exercise in and much more. Here are a few of the simple tips I have found to share with you to help you get started melting away that extra winter weight.
Watch Out for Additional Ingredients – Check labels for any extra sodium, added sugars and “bad” fats. If you are eating out, avoid fried foods, find out what types of oils and seasonings are used, and avoid things with broths that would have extra sodium.
Don’t Skip Breakfast – Starting out your day with a healthy breakfast gets your metabolism off to a good start each day. Getting your metabolism set in good working order for you helps you make the most of the food you eat and helps burn off extra calories. Eggs have gotten a bad rap in the past as they make a perfect high protein breakfast. There are many studies showing that eating eggs for breakfast helps keep you feeling satisfied longer into the morning making you less likely to snack.
Add Variety to Your Meals – Changing up the types of veggies, fruits, grains, and lean proteins in your meals will give your taste buds a break from the same ole thing all the time. Try some new foods that you’ve never tried before and give yourself something to look forward to. This will leave you feeling less deprived or like you are dieting. It will also give you a variety of nutrients as different foods have different nutrients to offer. For example, I don’t really like cauliflower much, but I recently tried a recipe that purees it and adds garlic and chives. That made all the difference and I loved it.
Choose Your Carbs Wisely – Registered dietitian and UJA-Federation’s Sports for Youth executive committee member, Sharon Richter, emphasizes the importance of including carbohydrates in the diet as they help supply our energy. The key in healthy eating is not to get rid of all carbs, but to be selective in choosing the right ones such as fruits that provide fiber and foods with carbs that take longer to digest such as beans, brown rice and quinoa. Following this advice not only helps you feel full for longer so that you avoid snacking between meals, but also keeps blood sugar levels more stable helping you to avoid releasing extra insulin which can contribute to calories being stored and weight gain. One study in the Journal of Nutrition conducted over a two year period found that those eating 8 extra grams of fiber for every 1000 calories consumed a day reported losing 4 ½ pounds while those eating less fiber actually gained weight.
Healthy Fats – While there are many fats to definitely avoid in healthy eating and especially when trying to lose some weight, monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs are not one of them. These types of fat have been found to actually help in weight loss. Avoid saturated and trans fats as they will add to weight gain, but adding foods like avocados, nuts, olives and oils such as olive oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and canola oil in small amounts can help you get rid of some of your unwanted pounds. One study in 2001 found participants that added MUFAs to their meals lost around 9 pounds while those who didn’t gained around 6 pounds.
Nutritional Wholefood Supplements – Be sure not to cut down on the nutrients your body needs as you are cutting down on calories. AFA bluegreen algae supplements can help you get the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients your body needs without adding extra calories. A well-nourished body is less likely to crave unhealthy foods, gives you the energy to be more active, and helps you stay in a more positive mood so you are more likely to stay positive about your weight loss program. AFA bluegreen algae also gives you the chlorophyll that the helps keep the lining of the intestines healthy for digestion and assimilation of food. Additionally, making sure your digestive system is in good shape and working to digest your foods properly is a plus. Taking high quality probiotic and enzyme supplements can help your body get the most nutrition out of the foods you are eating.
Join in the celebration of National Nutrition Month this March by becoming more aware of what you are eating, making some healthy eating lifestyle changes, and get out in the nice weather to increase your activity level and you’ll find that winter weight gain will start melting away and staying away without a lot of suffering that short-term diet plans can’t deliver. Think more about healthy eating and the weight loss will just be the added benefit.