During winter, we tend to enlist warm, comforting foods to ride out the colder months, and studies show we consume more calories overall during fall and winter. At best, these dishes might include homemade stews, chilis and casseroles, but when it’s cold and dark outside, it’s tempting to get food delivered directly to the cozy confines of our couch, no cooking required.
Pair these heavier-than-usual meals with the fact most people work out less during winter, and we can find ourselves feeling less than our best come spring. Hey, it happens. The key is not to let a few months of indulgent eating turn into a few more.
6 TIPS TO GET YOUR DIET BACK ON TRACK
1. START NOW
There’s no time like the present to make a positive change. So, rather than waiting for an arbitrary start date, like the first day of spring or a month before that beach vacation, go ahead and begin making those changes now. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll notice progress.
2. PLAN YOUR MEALS IN ADVANCE
When you’re hungry at 7 p.m. and don’t have a dinner plan, even the best intentions tend to go awry. Avoid hunger-induced decisions by planning your meals ahead of time. Buy groceries and meal prep on Sunday or whenever you have time, so you’re equipped with options each night. Healthy decisions come easier with a full fridge and a game plan.
3. TAKE IT ONE MEAL AT A TIME
Between work, family, a social life and other obligations, something has to give. Unfortunately, it’s often our health. If prioritizing your diet feels intimidating, try starting with one meal per day. You could make overnight oats the night before to ensure you have a healthy breakfast when you wake up or start bringing your lunch to work instead of going out. If dinner is the meal you want to focus on, create a weekly menu of what you’ll eat each night. Once you get one of your daily meals under control, you can begin to address the others. But, you might notice even this relatively small step is enough to make a big impact.
4. ADD, DON’T JUST SUBTRACT
Denying your favorite foods is a recipe for failure, as you’re likely to crave those foods and then sabotage your hard work by overdoing it. Instead, think about adding healthy foods to your plate. For example, if you really want pizza, eat a pizza. But skip the garlic bread and pair it with a large salad instead. This ensures you get plenty of fresh, healthy produce. By filling your stomach with greens, you may eat less of the high-calorie pizza.
5. LOG YOUR MEALS
Tracking what you eat is a great way to understand how many calories you’re consuming each day and to see if you should make tweaks to your diet. The MyFitnessPal app offers an easy way to do this, and its extensive database makes inputting individual foods and comprehensive meals less complicated. Beyond the eye-opening intel that comes with seeing your daily and weekly calorie consumption, logging your food holds you accountable and helps you reach short- and long-term goals.
6. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM
Everything is easier with the support of a friend or partner, so find someone else who wants to make a similar change, and do it together. There’s not one right way to enlist this approach. If your spouse is along for the ride, trade-off grocery shopping and cooking. If it’s a colleague, bring healthy lunches to the office and eat together. If it’s a long-distance friend, check-in periodically with encouraging text messages and recipe inspiration. Whatever you choose, just remember, you don’t have to undertake this effort alone.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It’s completely normal to indulge in comfort foods during the winter. So, if the last few months saw you diving into high-calorie favorites, don’t beat yourself up. But do try to get back on track. Consult the above tips, and you’ll be on your way toward better eating while learning a few tricks that can be used next time winter rolls around, or whenever your diet needs a kickstart.
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