Ahhhhh the fall has finally and officially arrived. There’s a cool, crisp breeze in the air – hoodie season as it’s known. Football fills our weekends. We’ve got exciting playoff baseball. The scent of delicious pumpkin and apple products fill the air. Go ahead – go grab your Pumpkin Spice Latte, I won’t judge. Spooky decorations adorn houses. It’s also an important time to focus a little more closely on our eating habits. This post will dive into three reasons on the importance of eating healthy during the cooler months.
If you’re anything like me, you enjoy being outside in a hoodie but only for so long. As those temperatures begin to plummet, wintry mixes fall upon us, and wind chills seemingly pierce our souls, we start to stay inside a bit more.
That 5am pre-work run just doesn’t sound as nice as staying in your warm, cozy bed. Yeah, you could hit the gym after work, but when those roads get kind of slick you play it safe and go straight home.
It’s no surprise that one of the reasons it’s important to eat healthy during cooler months is because we generally become more sedentary. The days of going on morning or evening walks are erased by dark skies and bone-chilling temperatures.
We all know the *very* generalized statement to lose weight is “move more, eat less.” While the statement in and of itself isn’t helpful because it doesn’t give you a roadmap of how to do those things, that “move more” part starts to fade away in colder months. This is the first reason for the importance of eating healthy during the cooler months.
How nice would it be to get through the winter and not feel like you need to drop several pounds? If you’re going to exercise less, healthy eating is your saving grace for minimizing the dreaded winter weight gain.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to count calories or macros or do any of the various diets out there. You certainly can if that’s what you prefer and know you can adhere to (the number one most important part of a diet by the way – finding something sustainable you can stick with).
Me personally? I like to keep it simple. Minimize ultra-processed foods and stick to as many single ingredient whole foods as you can. What do I mean by single ingredient whole foods? The only ingredient in chicken is chicken. The only ingredient in a broccoli is broccoli.
Since you’ll be staying indoors a little more often, take advantage of the time to experiment with new ways of cooking or different kinds of spices and sauces. Get creative! The cooler months are also the perfect time to make large batches of hearty soups, stews, and chili all of which can be incredibly healthy.
We already know you’ll likely end up exercising less during the cooler months – it happens to a lot of people. Another major reason for the importance of eating healthy during the cooler months? To help prevent that holiday bloat.
From October through December, treats are all over. Halloween treats currently line the shelves of grocery stores everywhere. Chances are you bought a bag or two, but will trick or treating even happen with Covid-19 wreaking havoc on society? Even if kids do come out, I’m going to guess it won’t be in numbers that’ll drain those candy stores you have. Guess you’ll have to eat the rest, right?!
Next comes Thanksgiving. Once again, Thanksgiving may look a little different this year in terms of how many people you’ll be around, but you’ll still have a Thanksgiving feast. Tables filled with roast turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, mac and cheese, and of course pies. There are plenty of other foods I could add, but I have to stop there because I’m making myself hungry. You see what I’m getting at, though. There’s ALWAYS leftovers which you then pick at for the next week or two.
Of course this bleeds right into the holiday season. You have Christmas parties for work, holiday potlucks, happy hours with friends before you depart to your holiday destinations, and more. There are plenty of treats that come along with the holiday season.
I think you get my point with all of this. There are any number of roadblocks you’re going to come across in the cooler months surrounding food. If you want to mitigate that holiday bloat, eating healthy becomes your best friend. Not only that, eating healthy surrounding these events allows you to enjoy them even more. In fact, that’s the premise of ANY successful diet – eat healthy 80-90% of the time and enjoy all the fun stuff the other 10-20% of the time. That very principle is true not just during the cooler months, but year-round.
The last, but certainly not least, reason for the importance of eating healthy the cooler months is the not as fun, but very important science-driven reasoning. Your gut health.
Do you remember that song that goes, “The leg bone’s connect to the knee bone. The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone”? Our bodies are connected in many ways so I’m going to drop some hot knowledge that you likely don’t know. You ready?!
Your immune system is directly tied to your gut health.
What does this mean for you? Well, first thing’s first – you don’t want to get sick do you? Of course not! I mean maybe you do but if you enjoy being sick I’m going to consider you a weirdo (in the best way possible). I digress. This means that if you don’t want to get sick during the cooler months, you need to make sure your gut health is in tip top shape. A healthy gut means a healthy immune system.
How do you do that you ask? Well, well, well. If you’ve made it to this point I’m willing to bet you can guess how. Did you guess by eating healthy?! Ding, ding, ding! We’ve got a winner!
As I mentioned above, minimizing the amount of ultra-processed food we eat is key here. If you don’t know what I mean when I say ultra-processed, I’m essentially talking about boxed or bagged items that have tons of ingredients in them that aren’t so great for us. Think the delicious stuff – boxed Mac & Cheese, crunchy Cheetos (my weakness), frozen dinners, and the like.
Eating healthy ensures the good bacteria in our gut isn’t killed off. To be more specific, you’ll want to add some foods rich in pre and probiotics.
Prebiotic foods include things like garlic, onions, bananas, asparagus, apples, and oats. By no means is this an exhaustive list. It does contain some of the more commonly consumed foods. If you’re looking for probiotics, think about fermented foods. Probiotic foods are things like pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, Greek yogurt, and some cheeses. You can also get a healthy dose of probiotics in liquid form if you enjoy drinking Kombucha (if you live in the metro Kansas City area check out Teabiotics – they’re local and make great Booch).
Of course, you can also take a pre and/or probiotic supplement in pill form. Getting them naturally from food will always be number one, but you do have the option of pills if that’s your jam.
The last part of this is ensuring you’re getting an adequate amount of fiber in your diet. While fiber doesn’t directly add good bacteria to your gut like pre and probiotics, it does help keep things moving in your colon.
Yep – that’s right. It helps you poop. Fiber helps clear out all the bad stuff sitting around your gut. There’s a ton of fiber filled foods (say that one five times fast) you can add to your diet. Fruits and vegetables generally contain a good amount of fiber. Most bean and legume varieties are packed with fiber. Another popular option are sweet potatoes. Again, not an exhaustive list, but a pretty good place to start if you need more fiber. Of course, just like with pre and probiotics you can take fiber in supplement form. Popular brands include Metamucil and Benefiber.
I hope at this point you understand the importance of eating healthy during the cooler months. If not, I’ll recap it for you in 3 quick bullets:
If you’re not sure of where to start, reach out to me. I can help you navigate your diet during the colder months and ensure you have a happy, healthy holiday season.
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