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Don’t Let Winter Be an Excuse to Let Healthy Habits Slide

senior couple walking in the snow


At this time of year, staying physically active and eating a healthy diet can be challenging. The holidays offer numerous temptations to eat less healthfully than we normally do and the cold weather makes us want to stay indoors and curl up next to the fire with a good book. So what can we do to ensure we maintain a healthy regimen during the cold months of winter? Here are some tips.

Stay as active as possible

Stay as active as weather allows. Exercise burns calories, which helps shed those unwanted pounds. Another benefit is that you’ll build muscle and muscle tissue burns more calories – even when you’re at rest – than fat. If your healthcare provider gives you the okay, try out winter sports such as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Head to your local senior center to take a yoga or tai chi class. Call up a friend and go bowling. By staying active, you’ll not only feel better in the short term, you’ll be laying the groundwork for many long-term benefits as well.

Become conscious of how much you really need to eat

It’s tempting to load up our plates with every imaginable culinary delight, particularly at parties or even when dining out, especially if we’re hungry. So the first step in maintaining proper portion control is to simply recognize that your body doesn’t need everything you crave. Try this experiment: Take (or order) half of what you normally would (if eating out, share an entrée instead of having one for yourself). Eat slower. Try to make the meal last at least 20 minutes. After that, if you’re still hungry, consider ordering a side dish or some dessert. If you practice this enough, you’ll most likely discover that less food begins to fill you up. And that’s a good first step in losing weight.

Don’t cut out fats entirely

Fats have a bad reputation for packing on the pounds. But science is beginning to take issue with this notion. First of all, many low-fat or nonfat foods are loaded with sugar (and therefore, calories), which can be more harmful to health than fats. Second, not all fats are created equal. Many foods high in fat – avocados, olive oil, wild salmon, walnuts – have numerous benefits and can actually help improve health. There are fats you should always avoid – trans fats being the main culprit. While the FDA banned trans fats in processed foods in 2018, it extended compliance to this regulation to January 1, 2020. As with all things, it is best to eat fats in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

 Make healthier choices

Instead of having a glass of orange juice in the morning, substitute a glass of water. If that seems unthinkable, try a “half and half” – half orange juice, half water. That way, you’ll get most of the taste with half the calories. Instead of potato chips, have a bowl of air-popped popcorn or, better yet, an apple. Instead of ice cream, try some fruit sorbet. Instead of a prepackaged, microwavable entrée (which are often loaded with unnecessary salt, sugar and trans fats), fix something from fresh, whole ingredients.

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and well-being. Conscious eating can be challenging during the winter months, but with a little planning, determination and encouragement, you should be able to meet your goals.

Categories: Healthy Aging