Do you feel you eat more during the winter months? You are not alone. Our biological makeup is geared to prepare us for survival during long, cold winters. This may account for food cravings, specifically carbohydrates, fats, and sugars, during the wintry weather. The weather may also keep us inside, which can contribute to mindless eating, whether out of habit or just sheer boredom.
Avoid the “winter weight-gain blues” with these simple meal-planning tips:
- Include at least one salad-based meal each week: When the cold weather sets in and snow falls, regular salads are often the first thing off the menu. Get creative with salads and add roasted vegetables, whole grains, lentils, and beans and/or lean protein or fish for a satisfying and balanced meal. Try out this Mediterranean Bean Salad that is packed with flavor and great nutrition.
- Make a hearty veggie-filled soup: Soup is an easy way to get fiber-filled vegetables into your winter diet. Toss just about anything into a soup pot. Add legumes, whole grains and veggies that might otherwise may go to waste. This homemade Chicken Noodle Soup is the ultimate comfort food. Make it on a lazy day when you can put up a pot and let it simmer for an hour or two.
- Create a grain bowl: Bowls can be made with leftovers or individualized on the spot with little effort. Simply layer a whole grain, such as quinoa, farro or brown rice, add some roasted or stir-fried vegetables and toss in a lean protein for a quick and versatile meal. This Egg and Kale Grain Bowl is packed with fiber, heathy fats, and protein. Enjoy in the morning or any time of day.
- Include fruit regularly: Enjoy fruit as an appetizer, side, or dessert. Include fruit in a salsa or in a smoothie. Use fresh, frozen, or canned fruits. Mandarin oranges are great to snack on – and they are delicious in a winter green salad! Enjoy grapes and apples in this classic Waldorf Salad by substituting fat free yogurt for high fat mayonnaise.
- Snack on veggies: Prep some vegetables in advance for a quick and healthy snack. Pair with this tasty Honey Dijon Hummus for a well-balanced, between-meal bite.
- Eat a fruit and/or vegetable at each meal: Use raw fruits and vegetables to round out a quick meal. Roasted Vegetables are also great to keep on hand to add some extra nutrition to your plate.
- Eat a green leafy vegetable at least once a day: Add lettuce to a sandwich, toss spinach into a soup, or make a fresh pesto with basil and spinach.
- Include the colors of the rainbow: Try to enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables during the week for micronutrient needs.
- Stay hydrated: Thirst is often confused for hunger. Enjoy a refreshing glass of water with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Or, warm up with this healthy Hot Cocoa on a cold winter night.
- Commit to meal planning: Take charge of your diet to optimize your health and wellbeing this winter. When meal planning, prep enough for extra ingredients and use leftovers to create other fabulous meals!