By Ashton Jackson, RD, LD/N
The leaves are changing and pumpkins are taking over your local stores. You know what that means… fall is finally here. The crisp autumn air is perfect for those who are ready to take their workout routine outdoors, and the bounty of fall greens and winter squash can make for a very nutritious plate.
Unfortunately, many view this time of year as a gateway into “legal eating season” — a time to hibernate on the couch with an abundance of comfort foods and sweet treats.
This year, let’s all make a pledge to find joy in this magnificent season without sacrificing our healthy habits. Here are a few ways to survive the most common culprits of our demise during the fall months:
The ever-shortening time to sunset disrupts your routine evening walk, jog or bike ride outdoors.
- Take time to soak up the rays during your lunch break at work by taking a brisk walk with coworkers.
- Convert that evening routine to a time for strength training or mind/body exercises like yoga. If you prefer exercising at home rather than at the gym, check out YouTube for a plethora of exercise videos OR purchase DVDs, dumbbells and stability balls at a reduced rate through online retailers to build your own at-home gym.
- Make the weekends count. Plan a weekend hiking trip and/or picnic at your local park and spend the day outside. Even raking the leaves in the garden is a healthy activity for the fall.
- If you find you just can’t incorporate your outdoor time earlier in the day, be sure to invest in reflective vests and bright-colored workout clothing to maintain safety in the evenings.
State Fair Fare
“Deep-fried-everything,” jumbo turkey legs and cotton candy (just to name a few).
- Have a game-plan before you go.
- Don’t go hungry. Eat regular meals and snacks as you would any other day (including dinner).
- Skip the super-sized drinks, stick with water. Drinking your calories won’t satisfy hunger and the sugar content can be astounding.
- Share! Have a small bite of the prized dish and pass the rest on for others to sample.
- Practice mindful eating: sit down to eat rather than grazing while you walk and talk.
- Set limits. Pick one treat that you just can’t pass up and savor it. Skip things like popcorn and hot dogs that you could have anytime, anywhere.
- Make it count.
- Find ways to entertain yourself that don’t involve food.
- Make other attractions like concerts, animals, rides and games the center of your attention.
Candy and other sweet treats.
- Skip the “treats” all together and pass out stickers, pencils and erasers as alternatives to sweets.
- If you do purchase candy for your trick-or-treaters…buy the things that you don’t typically crave and avoid purchasing weeks in advance. You’ll be less likely to sneak a piece for yourself.
- Take any leftover treats and candies to work. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Embrace a day of pumpkin carving and Halloween crafts to take the focus away from food.
- For parties and events, try making an alternative to traditional Halloween treats. Check out these Healthy Halloween Recipes (hit the “esc” on your computer if you don’t want to enter your email address)
Comfort Food Cravings
Cooler weather brings about cravings for high-calorie casseroles, baked goods and rich, hot beverages.
Enjoy the current seasonal crops to increase nutrition and add variety.
Try spaghetti squash in place of traditional noodles for making pasta:
- Utilize pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) as a base for making flavorful oatmeal.
- Slice a fresh sweet potato into wedges and roast in the oven as an alternative to fries.
Lighten your crockpot recipes:
- Avoid using creamy, condensed soups as the base for your recipes. Choose broth.
- Use leaner cuts of meat: ground turkey or chicken instead of beef, loin cuts of pork.
- Serve crockpot fare (like chili) over a hearty green like kale or spinach rather than rice or cornbread.
Try a hot spiced tea mixed with steamed milk as an alternative to the sugar-sweetened, decadent lattes at your local coffee house.
Check out our post on food cravings for advice on other ways to control and satisfy those cravings.