Guest post by Suzanne Farrell MS, RD
Owner of Cherry Creek Nutrition, Inc.
The last week of October marks the beginning of the holiday season. Between all of those extra treats, holiday parties and shorter days, it’s also a time when many of our good dietary intentions go into hibernation. The average gain during the next couple of weeks, for those within a healthy body weight, is about 1 pound, and 5 pounds for those already overweight. Unfortunately, these are stubborn pounds that tend to stay on and accumulate year after year. Below are 3 common, holiday season, diet challenges with tips for how to handle them.
Shorter Days: With less sunshine in our day, we may experience a decrease in serotonin, the brain chemical responsible for feeling positive, upbeat and calm. This decline also tag teams increased cravings for carbohydrates, especially sweets and refined grains. Although it isn’t wise to dive into a bag of cookies or eat half a loaf of pumpkin bread, it’s important to not avoid carbs altogether, but to simply choose wisely throughout the day. Choose higher fiber, nutrient rich carbs that will enhance serotonin production while satisfying the craving, without increasing the numbers on the scale. Examples include potatoes, squash, beans, lentils, whole grains and fruits. One cup of pasta is over 200 calories while once cup of spaghetti squash is only 40. It’s also rich in vitamin A and potassium. It tastes great topped with sautéed diced tomatoes in garlic, olive oil, fresh basil and some Parmesan cheese. Instead of a side of bread and butter with dinner, try roasted sweet potatoes, it may just do the trick!
Seasonal Coffee Drinks: Nothing says fall quite like a hot seasonal beverage such as a Pumpkin Spiced or Toasted Graham Latte. These drinks can pack in hundreds of extra calories. Try these 3 easy steps to significantly cut the calories while still indulging in this tasty treat:
- Skip the whip
- Downsize (choose a smaller size)
- Make it a “Skinny” (go for non-fat milk)
(Another calorie saving tip is to ask for “1 pump” of the flavored syrup, as they often give multiple).
- Grande PSL: 380 calories
- Tall PSL, no whip, non-fat milk: 200 calories
- Short PSL, no whip, non-fat milk: 130 calories
Decreased Consumption of Fruits & Veggies: Summertime lends itself well to fresh fruits and cold, crispy salads, and therefore, consumption can decline this time of year. Don’t give up, just re-shift your ideas. Re-stock the fruit bowl with fruits unique to Fall such as pomegranates, pears, apples, kiwi, tangerines and grapefruit. Take advantage of some of the most nutrient dense vegetables this season such as squash, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and parsnips. Don’t forget about frozen options as well since they are just as nutritious and very economical this time of year.