Advice

How to Enjoy Your Favorite Fall Foods (Without Gaining Weight)

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Cozy sweaters, roaring fires, and pumpkin spiced everything – Fall is upon us!

And if we’re being honest, let’s admit that the best thing about this season is the array of comfort foods that it brings in tow. But if you want to fit into your skinny jeans for the annual Christmas caroling trek, you’ll need to find a way around all those empty calories.

Fortunately, it’s easier than you may think. The following simple tips can help you enjoy those great fall foods without worrying about gaining a pound.

Be mindful about drinking – No one is saying you can’t enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two, but there are two rules for drinking if you want to avoid holiday weight gain.

  1. Rule #1: Avoid high-calorie drinks like eggnog. You’re practically drinking a meal’s worth of calories in that one drink, but you’re not getting the right nutrients.
  2. Rule #2: Don’t overdo it. Even if you drink mulled wine or spiked apple cider, you’re still consuming liquid calories. Excessive alcohol consumption is bad for you in so many ways, but it can also help you pack on the pounds.

Practice moderation – Is it really fall if you don’t have a slice of grandma’s pecan pie? You don’t want to find out, and that’s ok. Have the slice of pie, but make sure you stop there and don’t indulge in other sweet treats that day. Or have a small taste of them all instead of having one full serving of any one. The greatest part about this one is that you don’t need any special nutritional knowledge to practice moderation. You know that rich, decadent, or sweet foods will usually lead to weight gain. You can still eat them, just practice moderation.

Find healthy substitutions – Instead of pasta, consider spaghetti squash. Instead of mashed potatoes, consider mashed cauliflower. There are healthy alternatives for most fall foods. You don’t have to substitute every one of them, but you can consider every sub a check in the healthy weight column.

Exercise more – Even when you’re being mindful about what goes into your mouth, the richer foods of this season may still get you into trouble if you don’t up your activity level. The basic tenants of weight loss tell us that if we increase our calorie intake, we must also increase our activity level. Try adding a cardio exercise, like running or cycling, to your routine. And if cardio sounds like torture (you’re definitely not alone), try working out with kettlebells. An American Council on Exercise study found that kettlebell exercises can burn as many as 20 calories a minute!

Cook more – When you cook your own meals, you have full control over the ingredients, which means that you can create a tasty meal that isn’t quite as fattening as one you’d get out at a restaurant. Think about it this way: A restaurant’s only motivation is to make the food taste good. If this means adding more salt and heavy cream, then so be it. You probably won’t be able to avoid all restaurant meals, but if you can dine in more often, you’ll find it a lot easier to avoid the holiday bulge.

Now we’re ready to dig in! Go forth and unapologetically enjoy that pumpkin spiced latte, and then go for a jog the next morning. Being healthy and maintaining weight is all about checks and balances. If you’re smart about your food choices and portions, you’ll have no problem zipping up that sexy number you’re planning for this New Year’s Eve.

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