Seasons change, which also means our diet changes. Whether you’ve been doing well eating healthy or you’re looking to make a change, keep these tips in mind to stay healthy this fall.
Be aware of the time change
While it may not seem like it makes a difference, getting dark earlier means fewer hours in the evening for outdoor activities. So if you’ve gotten in the habit of taking evening walks, consider joining a gym for the winter months to escape the dark and the cold.
Careful with the Pumpkin Spice
If you’re a pumpkin spice fan, this time of year is going to require a lot of self control! It’s not necessary to completely deprive yourself, but be aware at how much sugar is in things. For example, a small pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks has 330 calories and 39 grams of sugar! If you can’t give it up, try ordering it with half the syrup and without whipped cream to cut the calories…and think of it as a treat rather than a daily coffee.
Use seasonal produce
Take advantage of all the seasonal produce: sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beets, spaghetti squash, kale, pears, okra, parsnips, and cranberries are all readily available during this fall season. See this as an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen. It’s possible to think we don’t like certain vegetables because when we’ve tried them they weren’t fresh and weren’t prepared well. There’s a huge taste difference between steaming a bag of frozen vegetables and roasting fresh ones. So if you think you’re the type of person who only likes a very select few vegetables, challenge yourself to prepare them fresh and in a different way. For example, instead of boiling/steaming asparagus try roasting them in the oven and then sprinkle some parmesan cheese and fresh lemon juice on them. Search online for creative recipes to try with some seasonal veggies – you might be surprised by what you discover!
Avoid creamy soups
Soups make a great fall meal, but sometimes they aren’t the healthiest. Avoid creamy, buttery, or cheesy soups (sorry broccoli cheddar!). Soups can be very hearty and healthy, just choose ones that are full of vegetables and lean meats. This is another opportunity to get creative and discover some delicious healthy options!
Avoid white things
White rice, white bread, pasta…if you can, avoid it all. These foods are all highly processed and many of the natural nutrients are stripped away during processing. Your body prefers foods that are less processed, and if you incorporate whole, natural foods into your diet you will notice the difference! Choose whole grain bread instead of white, brown or black rice (black rice tends to have a better flavor than brown) instead of white…you get the idea. If you aren’t used to the flavors of whole grains, try mixing half and half to start with. And again, get creative with it! Whole grain spaghetti with Ragu probably isn’t going to satisfy you, but rather make you miss regular spaghetti and increase your chances of going back to unhealthy habits. Try new dishes with these new ingredients so you can learn to appreciate them as they are, rather than comparing them to what you’re used to.
Drink more water
Staying hydrated is always important, but with the colder weather it might be easier to lose focus on it. So remember to keep drinking water throughout the day, and try to choose water over any sugary drinks. If water is too boring for you, try adding fruit/lemon for flavoring, and if you need some sweetness then opt for stevia as a sweetener.
Look for hidden sugar
Remember to always check the ingredients and nutrition facts for anything you buy. You might be surprised by how much sugar is in unsuspecting items. As always though, a general rule of thumb for healthy eating is to stay out of the aisles in the grocery store to avoid processed foods, as most of the fresh food is along the perimeter of the store.
Eating healthy requires some planning, and it’s going to require some cooking. We’re all busy and it can be difficult to keep up, but planning ahead is really what is going to help you out the most. If we don’t plan ahead, it’s easy to get stuck in a situation where unhealthy fast food may be our only option. So set up your future self for success! (Your future self will thank you!)
Have any other tips? Let us know!