Posted on Nov 28, 2023, 7 p.m.
Temptation Season is upon us once more. All of those delectable smells and tantalizing culinary sights seem to be like a mythical Siren trying their best to lure us to eat more. Outside has changed to be a little less inviting with its darker and cooler days prompting us to stay inside more. But when most of us see the colored lights and decorations go up these serve to invoke a sense of happiness (that is as long as you stay away from the hustle and bustle of shopping centers). All of those seasonal gatherings with friends and family loaded with decadent delights really don’t do our health and waistlines any favors, but they certainly are scrumptious.
For those looking to engage in a more healthful lifestyle that is perhaps in a reaction to a few pounds or less desirable habits that have developed, please be kind to yourself during this time of year. We may indulge a bit more, but this is due to the stresses, anxiety, and tempting goodies that are associated with the holiday season. It is important not to judge yourself or others for the ways chosen to cope during a season that seems to be geared towards excess.
Being kind and compassionate to others and ourselves is important to mental health, and this can also affect our future behaviors. Forget what you did before, consider each day from now on to be a new opportunity to improve your health and wellness by making a few very simple adjustments to your daily routines to support your overall health, wellness, longevity, and anti-aging efforts.
Along with the possibility of still having beautiful but seasonal weather we have the opportune time to take advantage of a variety of seasonal fresh produce that can be incorporated into healthy meals. Even if the fresh produce is not as readily available there are plenty of healthy options in the frozen section. We can also still enjoy a variety of outdoor locations that can be utilized for fun fitness activities as long as we dress weather appropriately.
It is just as important to stay hydrated in the cooler months as it is during the hotter weather. Keep in mind that the amount of water one needs can vary from person to person, but the Institute of Medicine recommends women should intake 2.7 liters of fluids per day and men should intake about 3.7 liters per day.
Drinking 8 ounces of water with each meal can help you meet your fluid needs, and it can also help you avoid overeating. For those that are not interested in plain water try adding fruit to the water to infuse some flavor or even some mint or rosemary. Seltzer can also be refreshing and more satisfying than plain water on a really busy day. Broth-based soup can also help you to meet your fluid needs, as can water-rich foods like watermelon, cucumbers, celery, oranges, and grapes among others.
Try to get outside to have some fitness fun when the weather is permitting. Regular physical activity can help to strengthen your bones and muscles while lowering your risks for disease and helping you to maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise does not have to be boring and tedious during the cooler months, you could enjoy activities like treasure hunting, walking, hiking, dancing, jogging, outdoor yoga, ice skating, snowboarding, snowshoeing, flying a kite, ice climbing, snowmobiling, sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowball fights with your friends and family. This season also has numerous ways that help to keep you fit and increase your energy expenditure including chores like shoveling, gardening, yard work, and washing the car which also get you moving more while accomplishing the necessary chores.
If you consume a lot of carbs you can also consider replacing some of the more starchy ones like white rice and regular pasta with lower-carb alternatives as a compromise that can give your meals a nutritional upgrade by boosting the fiber and nutrients while reducing some calories. You can try switching out mashed potatoes for cauliflower sometimes, or substitute chickpeas and lentil pasta in the place of regular pasta. Chickpea rice makes a nice alternative to white rice as does quinoa, and for another touch of variety, spaghetti squash makes a nice change from regular spaghetti noodles.
Adding protein to a meal can help to make us feel fuller for longer, and it also helps us to intake fewer calories than a meal that consists of only fats and carbohydrates. Protein can also help to preserve muscle mass which in turn helps to keep our metabolism running which is important as we lose muscle mass with age. Protein-rich food such as shellfish, poultry, beans, lentils, eggs, Greek yogurt, and fish are good choices, but don’t forget to add some veggies to that meal to increase satiety to complete that meal.
Sometimes I find it hard to eat protein when I know a big meal is going to happen later on, during these times I turn to quinoa which can be consumed hot or cold, and it is also a good source of plant-based protein for those who wish to avoid animal products. Cooked quinoa consists of 222 calories, 71.6% water, 21.3% carbs, 4.4% protein, and 1.92% fat in just one cup. Additionally, it is gluten-free and higher in nutrients than most grains, while being very flexible in its uses, which is why it is my preferred go-to for a variety of yummy hot/cold recipes.
For anyone looking for that magic bullet, fiber may be as close as it gets as this undigested plant substance can help you to feel full, lose weight, ease digestion, lower cholesterol levels, and help you to lower the risks of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. However, most people (9 out of 10) are not getting enough fiber according to research.
To get more fiber into your diet isn’t that hard, barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, fruits, and most veggies are all great sources. Typically the more whole, natural, and unprocessed the food is the higher in fiber it will be, but keep in mind that there is no fiber in meat, dairy, or sugar. One of the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables is boosting your immune system to go along with increasing your fiber intake. It is recommended that at mealtimes you fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies, which come in a range of colors carrying a variety of important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can help prevent disease. Think Eat The Rainbow at meal times.
In addition to being mindful and keeping an eye on how much you are eating, it may also be wise to pick a time that you will stop eating at for the day as well, which should be ideally at least 4 before going to bed to result in at least 12 hours between meals. This habit offers you a way to enjoy some of the benefits of intermittent fasting that works with our natural circadian rhythms. Eating late at night may increase the likelihood of weight gain while taking in calories during the day has beneficial effects on weight management as well as other health indicators. If you find yourself getting hungry, reach for a glass of water which should help to fill that hole. Sometimes people think that they are hungry when they are really thirsty.
You don’t have to eliminate all indulgences, just pick one for the day. It can be that glass of wine with dinner, that cup of low-fat ice cream, or even a small handful of dark chocolate chips. The point is that in moderation, intentional portion-controlled indulgences, even on a daily basis, can be part of a healthy plan. It is not realistic to deprive yourself of all of your favorite treats, and it may be setting yourself up to backfire and binge on those forbidden foods when you least expect it which could lead to bad habits returning to sabotage all your efforts.
Along the way in your journey, you may experience slips and setbacks. Be kind to yourself, no one is perfect. The important part is that you are trying. This is not a failure; it is just a minor speed bump. Take it as an opportunity to learn and grow from. Pick yourself up and start over again. Do not give up, you can do this, and you are well worth it. You deserve the benefits that each day of healthy lifestyle improvements will bring to you.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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This article was written by Tamsyn Webber at Worldhealth.net