How To Eat Healthy Winter Food For Weight Loss
Last updated on : December 01 2020
Understand Your Body During Winter
Winter is time spent curled up on the couch, being warm in bed, playing in the snow, seasonal parties, and lots more. It's also a time for enjoying delicious food and invariably packing on extra pounds.
It's hard to resist the temptation of comfort food in the colder months. However, it's not just you. There is a science behind these cravings.
The fat in your body keeps you warm in cold weather, and so you have an increased need to eat fatty foods. Additionally, you tend to stay in and exercise less during these months. And so you burn fewer calories and munch a lot more than you should.
Knowing what your body craves during the winter and how to combat this is the key to losing weight, or not putting it on in the first place.
Eat A Healthy Winter Diet
Here are a few ideas to help you out. They include better and healthier food choices, some good behaviors to adopt, a holiday eating strategy, and inspiration to get exercise.
- Eat leafier, green veggies.
- Consume protein
- Try flax seeds
- Mix in some potatoes
- Munch on carrots
- Eat whole grains
- Make black bean soup.
- Go for ginger
- Add heat with chili.
- Get nuts
- Warm-up with hot chocolate
- Eat to stay warm
- Get organized in the kitchen.
- Stock up - literally.
- Keep hydrated
- Make the right choices at parties.
- Sleep well and go out in the sun
- Finger foods are not your friends
- Enjoy turkey differently.
- Pass on the honey-glazed ham.
- Potatoes: candied, stuffed or mashed
- Cranberry sauce isn't wise.
- The dreaded green bean casserole
- Eggnog takes the cake
- Pecan pie vs Pumpkin pie
- Caramel apples are risky
- Other healthy holiday eating tips
Step 1 - Choose Healthy Winter Food
The cold weather is a time to pay attention to your diet. Eating the right foods keeps your body warm and all those pesky winter ailments away.
Stay fit and toned by sticking to healthy food options and making smart substitutions to your usual comfort food.
Try these options to keep your weight gain under check.
Eat leafier, green veggies.
“Eat your vegetables” – your parents have been right all along.
Leafy green veggies like broccoli, spinach, cabbage, etc. are rich in fiber and antioxidants. Eating them in the winter keeps your digestive system healthy. They also provide you with energy, keeping you active, and your weight in check.
Add veggies to your plate instead of the empty carbs and starches in your cold-weather diet.
Try spices or experiment with cooking to make green veggies taste yummy. Winter greens combined with root vegetables give you plenty of variety in your diet and different vitamins, nutrients, and minerals.
A diet rich in protein helps maintain your toned shape in the winter.
According to a study done by the University of Washington, increasing your daily protein intake to 30 percent of total calories reduces your calorie consumption by 440.
Eating a high-protein diet tricks your brain into thinking you have eaten more than you have. With this feeling of fullness, you are less likely to reach out for unhealthy sugary or fried snacks.
However, remember to choose lean proteins rather than high-fat proteins.
Try flax seeds
Eating flax seeds is good for health. And they are particularly helpful when you are trying to avoid gaining extra pounds.
High in fiber and nutrition because of their omega-3 and lignin content, flax seeds help you stay slim and reduce your chances of developing certain diseases.
Mix in some potatoes
Potatoes have a bad rep. It's a myth that consuming these vegetables adds a lot of fat to the body.
Potatoes keep lousy cholesterol away by filling you up and are full of essential nutrients. Instead of going for greasy, fried potatoes, choose healthier cooking methods, such as boiling, grilling, or baking.
Eat them with the skin on for even better results.
Munch on carrots
Rich in nutrients and low in calories, carrots are delicious and healthy food for those trying to watch their weight.
Carrots contain high levels of water and fiber, which keeps hunger at bay and aids in proper digestion.
When you feel like munching on something as you get cozy under the blanket, choose a few slices of carrot with a low-fat dip instead of a bag of chips.
Eat whole grains
Whole grainsare good for your health at any time. But they are especially beneficial in the winter because they keep your body warm and increase your metabolism.
Plan to have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast for both the health benefits and to keep laziness at bay. Add flavoring like cinnamon or citrus fruits to it.
Add barley, brown rice, and quinoa to your diet to increase your overall intake of healthy whole grains.
Make black bean soup.
Any kind of soup is welcome when you're chilled to the bone. However, opt for a bowl of fresh black bean soup if you can.
Black beans are high in copper and iron, boosting your immune system and are low in calories. There is no saturated fat to worry about (unlike in canned soups). And an average serving will give you approximately 15 grams each of fiber and protein - with the added benefit of keeping hunger pangs at bay.
Go for ginger
This medicinal root used in traditional Indian medicine helps battle the intense cold and any lethargy taking over.
Ginger keeps you warm and provides a buffer to many common ailments. It's a natural antioxidant supporting good digestive health and your immune system. If you feel a sniffle coming on, a piping hot cup of ginger tea is all you need.
Ginger is easy to consume. Add it to soups, salads, baked goods, or even plain hot water.
Add heat with chili
Who doesn't like tucking into steaming, spicy food when curled up in front of the TV craving warmth?
The good news is that experts recommend eating chili during the winter. The capsaicin in the pepper boosts your metabolism and prevents fat buildup. Moreover, the tomato paste and onions used to make the dish are natural antioxidants.
However, keep the amount of meat you consume in check. Choose leaner cut alternatives to red meat if possible.
Are you feeling between-meal hunger pangs? Grab a handful of your favorite nuts to snack the healthy way. For more warmth and better taste, roast them a bit first.
Nuts make you feel fuller, helping you avoid tucking into unhealthy options. They are also cold-weather favorites, particularly the still-warm roasted varieties.
Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews – all kinds are healthy, giving you plenty of variety. However, don't overdo because a handful of nuts is chock full of calories but better than a bag of crisps.
Warm-up with hot chocolate
Yes, you read that, right! A cup of steaming hot cocoa is perhaps one of the best memories of winter. And it turns out that this wet comfort food is not as bad for your weight as you thought.
However, leave out the marshmallows and avoid sugary powder mix versions, they add unnecessary calories and destroy any natural health benefits. Instead, make it by melting a couple of dark chocolate pieces into your almond or regular milk. Yummy!
Step 2 - Adopt New Behaviors To Avoid Weight Gain
Adopting the handy tips below will help you enjoy the cold without having to deal with a lot of extra pounds once the season is over.
Combine these tips with the healthier food choices above to gain maximum benefit.
Eat to stay warm
Yes, you can eat to keep warm.
Making the right food choices satisfies your hunger and keeps you warm without a lot of calories.
Soups are an excellent choice and real comfort food.
Prepare soups and broths with seasonal vegetables, lean meats, and warm spices. Enjoy a bowl of soup when you get hungry to avoid munching on unhealthy snacks.
The best thing about soups - prepare them in advance and store them in the freezer for later. Attack this task when you are not so busy, allowing you to relax and enjoy when needed.
Get organized in the kitchen.
Planning helps. Especially in the colder months when you don't feel like getting up to cook and would rather snuggle in bed.
Get organized in the kitchen. Prepare in bulk on a day when you are feeling active enough to get things done.
Aim to eat home-cooked meals as much as you can.
Find recipes that are easy to prepare and healthy. And freeze meals to defrost, reheat, and freshen up with garnish when you are home from the cold.
Stock up - literally.
Winter is the time when you are likely to indulge in unhealthy snacking. Be smart and keep the right kind of snacks within reach.
Load your kitchen shelves and the car with protein-rich snacks like beef jerky, unsalted almonds, fresh seasonal fruits, and vegetables.
Kale is an excellent option as the antioxidants in it help detox your body naturally. Also, eat plenty of oranges and apples to keep your immune system healthy.
Contrary to popular opinion, you can get dehydrated in the cold. However, reaching for sodas and caffeinated beverages doesn't do any good to your body.
Instead, ensure that you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Go for hot teas and warm soups to increase your fluid intake healthily.
Make the right choices at parties.
Winter is synonymous with holiday parties, with alcohol and good food aplenty.
If you go to a party hungry, planning to eat and drink, then staying skinny is challenging. Avoid calorie-loaded alcohol and make healthier food choices.
Try eating something healthy before heading to a party to curb your need to gorge on the yummy-looking high-in-calories spread. And it won't curb your fun at all.
Sleep well and go out in the sun
In cold weather, the human body goes back to its natural state, needing more sleep and slows down its metabolism.
Aim to go to bed early instead of staying under the covers late when the sun is shining bright and warm outside. Sleeping first means you will be well-rested and fresh to get some sun in the morning.
Getting enough sleep and soaking in the sunlight has a positive effect on your mood and keeps winter blues away. All of this suppresses unhealthy midnight food cravings and the tendency to overeat.
So head out and take a long walk in the sun to get some exercise and healthy exposure outdoors.
Step 3 - Develop A Holiday Party Eating Strategy
Most people gain 2 to 5 pounds during the holiday season. After a few years, these pounds add up to unhealthy weight gain and can contribute to a negative body image.
From heavy eggnogs and pecan pie to roasted and stuffed turkey and honey-baked ham – ‘tis the season to gorge on time-honored festive delicacies with your family and friends.
Yet it is also the season that requires an eating strategy and alternatives for more healthy eating. To protect the feminine proportions you love alongside your self-esteem.
As always we're committed to helping you out.
Try out the steps below for more sensible holiday dinners that will leave you fierce, fabulous, and kewl all year long.
Finger Foods Are Not Your Friends
Office cocktail parties and home get-togethers are not considered complete without a host of finger foods. However, fried canapés, mini quiches, and cheese sticks with creamy dips are not your friends.
Chips and fried finger foods are sure-shot pound-packers. They look innocuous in size and pass under your diet radar easily.
For example, a single serving of cheese and 5 crackers have you consuming more than 300 calories and 16 grams of fat.
The strategy - Load up on healthier finger foods to avoid extra calories and carbs.
Instead of dipping into the cheese-and-cracker duo, serve and eat an equally decadent shrimp cocktail (50 calories and negligible fat in a serving of 5 shrimps in a healthy cocktail sauce).
Load up on the raw leafy vegetables being served. Other healthy food choices include fresh fruit, some nuts, vegetable platters with a hummus dip, avocados etc.
If you just cannot do without your favorite finger foods, eat them in moderation. Go easy on the creamy dips and opt for healthier yogurt dips, guacamole, and salsas instead.
Enjoy Turkey Differently
Stuffed dark turkey meat covered in oodles of gravy is a holiday special that packs a high-fat content.
Turkey is a tasty holiday meat, however, dark meats such as turkey legs, thighs, and wings contain more than 70 additional calories and about 3 times the fat when compared to plain skinless white turkey meat such as the turkey breast.
The strategy - Ditch the skin, and load your plate with white turkey breast meat and just a dab of gravy for flavor.
Experts recommend skipping the skin if you’re watching calories.
The skin adds 35 calories to a typical 3.5-ounce serving, says Harriette R. Mogul, MD, MPH, associate professor of clinical medicine at New York Medical College.
And sans skin, turkey’s low in saturated fat, says Kylene Bogden, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic.
Pass On The Honey-Glazed Ham
Before it is cured with salt and drenched in sugar, ham is a great lean-meat option that is rich in vitamins and protein. However, the addition of all the salt and sugar make honey-glazed ham a pound packer without remorse.
Think doughnut because the glaze is really just a thick sugar coating.
The strategy - Avoid honey-glazed ham altogether or opt for a healthier glaze.
As an alternative to honey-glazed ham, opt for a healthier glaze made of mustard and jam such as blackberry or cranberry sauce.
Or try Christmas pork, not ham. Make your own sweet, though sugar-free, glaze with antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice and calorie-free stevia, then thicken it with arrowroot.
Your other realistic option is to ditch the ham completely and choose a healthier food choice like turkey, beef, or sirloin instead.
Potatoes: Candied, Stuffed, or Mashed?
Drenched in butter, heavy whipping cream and salt, mashed and stuffed potatoes are a holiday staple just as much as candied yams. Potatoes are rich in fiber, flavonoids (cancer fighters), and quercetin (immunity).
However, these sides add a whopping 400 calories to your meal in one go with the addition of all the butter and fat.
When choosing sides to eat with dinner, a baked potato with butter isn't necessarily the most nutritious option.
While baking is one of the healthier ways to cook a potato, and baked potatoes do provide some essential vitamins and minerals, they tend to be higher in calories than many other vegetables.
Additionally, the butter adds a lot of fat, including unhealthy saturated fat, without significantly increasing the vitamin and mineral content.
The strategy - Try sweet potatoes instead and drop the butter
Spiced with cinnamon, mashed sweet potatoes, and baked sweet potato fries and rounds are perfect side-dishes that taste great and will not add to your weight woes. But remember to leave off the butter.
Cranberry Sauce Isn't Wise
Cranberry sauce is a holiday staple that you really try to avoid.
While cranberries are healthy fruits, with plenty of dietary fiber, and vitamins C, E, and K, canned cranberry sauce serves up 105g of sugar, high amounts of AHA, and hundreds of calories.
You can bid adieu to the health benefits of eating cranberries if you choose the canned varieties.
Cranberries are really good for you, but they are not naturally sweet. Consequently, all the cranberry products you purchase will have added sugar.
For instance, 100 grams of fresh cranberries contain only 46 calories, while 100 grams of cranberry sauce has 151 calories. The extra 100 calories add up to about 6 teaspoons of sugar.
The strategy - Make your own cranberry relish at home.
Instead of opting for store-bought cranberry sauce that is made with sugar, corn syrup, and additional sweeteners and preservatives make your own cranberry relish at home.
Most recipes call for larger amounts of sugar than necessarily needed, so feel free to cut down on the sugar or opt for sugar substitutes such as stevia or Splenda.
The Dreadful Green Beans Casserole
A green bean casserole sounds like a healthy, green choice of food during the holidays but often is best to steer clear.
Green beans casserole uses full-fat cream of mushroom soup and French-fried onions. These casseroles are high in calories and fat.
The strategy - Make your own healthy version.
It's pretty easy to make a healthier green bean casserole.
First, use fresh veggies that are not overcooked. Second, opt for organic or all-natural brands of soup and fried onions to keep some of the processed ingredients out. Third, swap out the whole milk or cream for skim milk.
As an alternative to this traditional pound-packer, serve steamed fresh green beans, or grilled asparagus spears.
If you are going to visit guests outside of your home nibble on vegetables prior to arriving to help control your appetite and reduce your cravings for those high-calorie foods.
Eggnog Takes the Cake (literally)
Did you know that the holiday favorite, eggnog, contains more than 250 calories? It provides more than half your daily saturated fat recommended dose in just one glass.
A relatively small four-ounce cup of store-bought eggnog boasts a whopping 170 calories (half of them from fat), nearly 10 grams of fat, and over 70 mg of cholesterol.
The strategy - Switch to a healthier hot apple cider.
Instead of choosing glass after glass of eggnog (whether warm, spiked, or not) switch to hot apple cider. Other than being a great source of healthy antioxidants, apple cider also reduces your caloric intake.
If you are still craving the taste of eggnog, make your own eggnog using egg substitutes, fat-free milk, and sugar alternatives instead.
We realize that saying no to holiday classics is always easier said than done. So if you must have a sip of eggnog be sure to ensure it is just that - a sip.
Drink it in moderation. And switch to low-calorie alternatives in-between such as club soda, wine spritzers, or water.
Pecan Pie vs. Pumpkin Pie
It pains me to report that traditionally served pecan pie packs a whopping 800 calories per slice.
Pecan pie is traditionally made with a good amount of corn syrup and/or brown sugar, which only contributes sugar and calories. And the crust can be a big source of fat, especially artery-clogging saturated fat.
Although pecans themselves have many healthy attributes, more doesn’t mean healthier.
The strategy - A realistic alternative to the time-honored dish is a slice of pumpkin pie.
While a slice of pumpkin pie still packs in 300 calories, it also offers plenty of vitamin A, iron, and calcium. Your hips will thank you for not loading up on corn syrup, sugar, and butter.
If you just cannot do without pecan pie, skip eating the fatty crust. This one step helps reduce your caloric intake by 100 calories or so.
Caramel Apples Are Risky
Not only do they taste great but making caramel apples is often a holiday family entertainment activity or tradition.
While they may be fun to make, you cannot negate the fact that the caramel sauce is just pure sugar mixed in with high-fructose corn syrup or butter.
The Strategy - Avoid them completely or find fat free versions for the sauce.
Packing well over 320 calories, finding a healthy equivalent for caramel apples is essential. Instead of making a caramel sauce, consider fat-free varieties of caramel sundae syrups.
Some Other Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
Enjoy a few guilty pleasures. Acknowledge that eating a little more during the holidays is expected. Plan to enjoy a few treats over the time so as not to overly miss the season's culinary delicacies. This way you are less likely to binge-eat on “cheat days”.
Choose your indulgences. Instead of eating high-calorie food items that are available throughout the year, choose to indulge in items that actually commemorate the joy and unique spirit of the holiday season.
Manage your portion size. Use smaller plates, serving utensils, and tall, skinny glasses.
Avoid salty items. Eating too many salty food items during the holidays may lead to water retention and swelling of your hands and feet. Fret not, there is a simple home remedy to handle this problem. Add a dash of fresh lemon juice to the water you drink to improve its taste and reduce the swelling.
Don’t skip breakfast. Research shows that eating a healthy breakfast prevents overeating later on in the day and gives your metabolism a jump start.
Keep up your exercise routine. The holiday season is a time to let down your hair and enjoy yourself. However, keep exercising and even double up. Ensure that you squeeze in at least a couple of workout sessions during the week. And don't fool yourself, your house-cleaning efforts and running around for shopping don't necessarily contribute toward your exercise quota.
Don't fret a single meal. Chances are that you may overeat during one meal. If this happens, ensure you go easy on the next. If you unnecessarily overeat more than 500 calories a day for a week, you will gain a pound. One meal is not likely to jeopardize your diet for good, so focus on getting back on track.
Eat slowly and eat as clean as possible. Your brain takes time to process whether or not you are full. So wait at least 10-15 minutes before you choose to eat second servings. It is also a great idea to spend some quality time actually tasting each morsel of food, instead of just gulping it down.
Get rest and drink water. Finally, remember to get enough sleep and drink plenty of water to help your body maintain a healthy immune and digestive system.
Step 4 - Exercise Away The Winter Blues
The importance of exercising, particularly in the winter, cannot be stressed enough.
The key to keeping trim is to keep moving. The lazier and more inactive you are, the more you end up staying indoors. And staying indoors leads to boredom and feasting on unhealthy goodies.
Physical activity also lifts your mood, which keeps you from fighting the blues with unnecessary snacking.
Workout with a buddy
Finding the motivation to exercise, particularly during the winter, is hard. So get together with a friend and egg each other along instead of missing out on your workout routine.
Whether it is going to the gym, taking a jog, or trying a yoga session at home, having someone to share it with makes the experience much better.
Try new winter activities.
Take advantage of the cold weather to try new sports or activities that you don't have the chance to do during the rest of the year. Skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, sledding – the options are many.
Even a snowball fight with the family gets you running and burning the calories. So this winter, sign up for ski lessons with your friends or family and stay fit the fun way.
Carry your gym bag to the office
Having your gym bag packed and ready to go gives you less excuse to miss your after-work gym session. Winter evenings are not precisely the best time to motivate yourself, so make it as easy for you as possible.
Lug your gym bag to work so that you have a constant reminder. Remind yourself that it's there for a reason and that you will be using it later!
Watch a few Netflix fitness movies.
Snowed in or looking for a slightly more relaxed alternative today?
Plan an at-home workout session. Get into your gym clothes, switch on Netflix, and exercise along. Since you don't have to face the biting cold, use the opportunity to dress sexier to make it more fun.
Work on a goal
Whatever inspires you to keep your day to day eating in check because there are many ways to achieve healthy weight loss in the winter.
Staying skinny through the winter doesn't mean you have to give up eating everything that looks delicious.
Instead, choose healthier food and plan to make the best of both worlds by following the advice in this article. Remember to add plenty of exercises to keep yourself in a healthy balance.
Winter foods can be fun and healthy. With the right choices, you'll feel enthused about being slim and full of energy.
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The Kewl Shop is a blog. We write about all things lifestyle with a strong focus on relationships, self-love, beauty, fitness, and health. Important stuff that every modern woman or man needs to know.
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