There’s no question it’s easier to make healthy choices in spring and summer with an abundance of produce in season and ideal weather to be active. But come the cold, harsh months of winter, eating clean and slimming down can seem a whole lot more challenging. Here are a few common winter weight-loss hurdles and how to dodge them.
1. Temptation is everywhere.
Hot chocolate, creamy soups, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese—’tis the season for comfort foods. If you’re not careful, you may slip into the mindset that all indulgences are “bad,” says health and lifestyle coach Sheila Viers, and once you start labeling your food choices as “good” and “bad,” every decision becomes a loaded one.
Instead of sweating over all the dietary “shoulds,” try making food choices that are right for you. “Maybe you plan ahead,” Viers suggests, so you are deciding in advance when you want to indulge (like at the Friday night potluck, for example). Or maybe you choose one small indulgence per day (say, a few squares of high-quality dark chocolate) to satisfy your sweet tooth. “The important thing is that the decision feels good to you.”
2. You’re fighting the urge to hibernate.
Between the snow and ice, and shorter, darker days, winter is enough to tank your motivation to exercise. Who wants to venture out into the freezing weather to go for a run, or to the gym when it’s so cozy at home? Luckily, you don’t have to leave your living room to get in a killer sweat sesh (promise). There are tons of great workout videos online. “You can put a couple together,” says Viers. “Or split them up, with 10 minutes before work and 10 minutes in the evening.”
3. You’re loading up on salt.
If you’re eating less fresh food in the winter months, you’re probably eating more packaged and processed foods (think canned veggies and soups, pasta, bread, chips and crackers), which can be sneaky sources of sodium.
Even if you’re keeping your calorie intake in check, water weight can make you feel bloated and sluggish. Viers’ advice: Hydrate as much as you can. Adding potassium-rich foods, like avocados, bananas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and coconut water, to your diet may help, too, because they help regulate sodium levels in your body.
4. Raw veggies seem so unappealing.
Let’s face it: When you’re feeling cold, your belly isn’t exactly rumbling for kale. Soups and stews are a great way to get vegetables; you just have to choose wisely, says Viers. “A soup with a cream base is more likely to contain more calories, for example, so you can opt for broth-based soups.” And if you’re turned off by cold salad, try roasting sweet potatoes, peppers, parsnips, carrots, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts.
Don’t forget about warm fruits either. They can be a delicious and healthy winter treat. You can bake or roast peaches, pears, plums, or even cherries, and eat them with a little drizzle of honey or cinnamon, or a dollop of whipped cream.
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