Four Foods to Fight the Winter Bulge and Blues
by Angelita Williams
Winter—for those trying to whip into shape, it can cause some serious kinks in your dieting and exercising plans. Not only do you need to find a way to survive your runs in the blistering cold if you do not have access to an indoor track, but you also need to find the strength to not over-eat during the cold months.
And we are not just talking about not over indulging during the holiday dinner either—the winter typically forces us to hibernate indoors for warmth and as a result we sometimes like to find comfort in an array of goodies found in our pantries like cookies and pie. Not to mention that seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which occurs due to the lack of sun during the winter, can also lead to emotional eating.
But it’s not entirely our faults. Our bodies naturally warm up with a higher caloric intake. So when we are cold, our bodies will send signals to our brains telling us to eat. Eating is fine. You just need to make sure you’re eating the right foods that will keep you full and satisfied without packing on the pounds. That said, the foods listed below are meant to do just that as well as alleviate your mood to combat the effects of SAD during the chilly months.
1. Water and Low-Sodium Soups
If you are not drinking the recommended 6 to 8 glasses of water a day it’s important that you do so now. Sometimes our bodies confuse hunger with thirst, so drink up before you pursue a whole meal if you know just recently ate. Water-based low-sodium soups and watery fruits and vegetables like mushrooms, melons, and cucumbers can replenish fluids and help keep you full without doing any harm to your waist line as well. Not to mention that water can help flush out toxins that can be harmful to your body and help trigger depression and emotional eating.
2. Whole Grains Such As Brown Rice
Whole-grain food items such as whole grain breads, pasta, and brown rice keep you fuller longer due to the high levels of fiber and can help you maintain your weight with ease. As a bonus, whole grains also help the body produce more serotonin in the brain—a chemical that triggers a “happy/euphoric” feeling and can fight the effects of SAD. If you’re looking to warm up and stay full, you might shoot for a bowl of steamy whole grain oatmeal. Not only is it good for you, but you will also trick your brain into thinking you are eating more when seeing it next to a small cookie for example.
3. Protein Such As Salmon and Almonds
Foods high in protein such as salmon, lean turkey, almonds, and sunflower seeds for example can really do you some good this winter. Not only do they help you build stronger muscles when working out, but they also take longer to digest which means you remain fuller longer. As a as bonus, oily fish and an array of nuts and seeds can help replenish moisture back into your skin which happens to dry out during the cold wintery months. Foods rich in protein also help the body produce dopamine, which similar to serotonin helps activates the “pleasure centers” in our brains and makes us happy.
4. Egg for Vitamin D
Lastly, like mentioned above SAD usually occurs because the sun is less present during the winter months, which is our major source of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps fight mood irregularities such as depression. Thus it’s important that we find other sources of vitamin D to compensate for the lack of sun. Drinking a tall glass of low-fat milk or eating a hardboiled egg for example can help ease the hunger cravings as well as replenish your levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D also works to help us absorb other nutrients more easily and helps strengthen our bones and immune system.
While there are some extra obstacles you may have to overcome during the winter to ensure that you stay on track, with some careful planning and ensuring that your pantry and fridge is stocked with the right foods, there is no reason you can’t get the body you deserve even in the cold.
(This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams. She is a health and wellness expert, and freelance writer specializing in food, fitness, healthy living, green living and balanced living.)