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The holiday eating frenzy may be behind us, but the winter cold that’s stretched across much of the country means even more of us are finding excuses to stay indoors and cuddle up with a little comfort food. Some scientists think those few extra pounds we tend to put on in the winter may give us a little seasonal immune boost, but Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of the Bariatric Institute in Ottawa and author of the blog Weighty Matters debunks the notion that humans are biologically programmed to gain weight in the winter. So unless there’s a little bear DNA in your family tree, here are some tips for fighting the urge to chow down and chill out when the temperatures drop.
Soak Up a Little Sun
Bundle up and get out of the house. You don’t have to be out for long to benefit from the mood-boosting effects of direct sunlight. If you’re like most of us and spend dawn to dusk in an office, try to take a walk during your lunch hour. The sunlight will refresh your mind and the activity will make you less likely to reach for that plate of brownies.
Lighten Up Old Favorites
No one loves a cozy fire and a warm bowl of mac and cheese more than we do, especially when the weather outside is less than inviting. The trick to enjoying your favorites is to put them on a diet. Instead of depriving yourself of foods you love, look for ways to adjust your favorite recipes so they’re healthier and less likely to add to your winter weight woes. Our friends at health.ca offer slimmed down recipes for some favorite comfort foods.
Stock Up on the Good Stuff
No, we’re not talking about vintage wine or well-aged single malt. We’re talking about those “superfoods” that may actually help you drop a few pounds and could help boost your immunity during cold and flu season. So lay in a supply of sweet potatoes and discover new ways to prepare them. Learn to love dark green veggies like kale and Swiss chard and keep a stock of apples on hand for munching when the mood hits.
Take Good Care of Yourself
A lot of us just feel “down” during the winter months. Some of us are even affected by a type of depression known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder). One way people cope with these feelings is by eating more when it’s cold and dark as food itself can be a comfort. If you think you may be experiencing the symptoms of SAD, talk to a professional about ways to lighten your mood during these low periods. You may find that caring for your emotional self helps you get your winter eating under control.
Take Up a New Hobby or Sport
It’s tough to overeat when you’re knitting! Or drawing, or learning the ins and out of a tennis racquet. Winter is a great time to pursue something new precisely because it lacks the lure of the glorious sunny days that keep us active and busy in the warmer months.
What do you and your family do to stay healthy and happy during the winter months?