“Game of Thrones” isn’t coming this month (we’ll have to wait till next year, I’m afraid), but winter certainly is.
As you probably know by now, Down Under’s climate is quite the opposite of ours. Australian winters tend to occur while the Philippines is roasting under record-high temperatures. But while we’re all probably dreaming of snow and brisk winds in this infernal heat, one downside to the winter months is that they make it all too easy to pack on excess pounds.
We might crave healthier fare like salads or fresh fruit during the balmy days of summer, but the wintry chill often calls for something heartier and more comforting like rich soups, succulent roasts, and carbohydrate-laden side dishes. And because the body seeks to pad itself with fat for added insulation once the temperature drops, you may find your metabolism slowing down this time of year.
Unless you can just fly off to the Philippines for the next two or three months, you can’t exactly escape the upcoming winter season. You can, however, avoid coming out of it heavier than when you came in by making a handful of small but significant adjustments:
1. Drink up.
Forget about kombucha or whatever hipster drink those fakestagrammers are bandying about these days. Water is still the ultimate beverage.
H20 makes up two-thirds of our bodies and carries out important functions like lubricating the joints, regulating blood pressure, removing waste, and aiding digestion. Cold water is said to boost your metabolism too, if only because drinking it makes you burn more calories than you take in.
You don’t necessarily need to drink the proverbial 8 glasses a day, but do make sure you consume enough water to keep your pee a healthy light yellow and to keep thirst at bay. If you plan to do rigorous work-outs this season, you might want to up your fluid intake to replenish your body’s hydration.
2. Plan your meals.
It might sound a bit tedious, but a bit of effort in writing down what you plan to eat for the week goes a long way. This prevents you from making any impulse food purchases (which are likely to be high in sugar and fat) when you’re starving, ensures that you get your recommended daily nutritional intake, and helps you save money.
If you have kids, proper meal-planning can also help them cultivate healthy eating habits early on.
3. Whenever possible, get your protein fix from vegetables instead of meat.
Speaking of healthy eating habits, occasionally going meat-free has been shown to be beneficial for both your body and the environment. Tofu, tempeh, and legumes are all excellent plant-based sources of protein, for instance.
Can’t quite abandon your taste for meat? Check out these tried and tested meat-free recipes that even the most voracious carnivore won’t be able to resist. (Pulled “Pork” Sliders made with jackfruit? Sign me up!)
4. Opt for fiber-rich vegetables and whole grains over starchy sides.
You can still have your mashed potatoes, but do eat more dark, leafy greens like spinach, bok choy, and kale. Tomatoes, cauliflower, cucumber, and capsicum are also great low-calorie alternatives that will keep you feeling full without making you feel bloated.
5. Spice things up.
The right spices and seasonings can bring even the dullest and most unappetizing vegetables to life, thus ensuring a more pleasant dining experience for you. Cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and paprika are rich in antioxidants that can strengthen your immune system and also help you cut down on your sodium intake by infusing your food with stronger flavors.
6. Look up restaurant menus when you eat out.
With apps like Zomato and Yelp, looking up nutritious dishes and where to find them has never been easier.
Home-cooked meals are generally preferable to eating out when you’re watching your weight, but if your job requires you to regularly wine and dine clients, you can still achieve your goals by doing a little culinary reconnaissance beforehand.
You don’t have to deprive yourself in order to live healthier. It’s mostly a matter of making more mindful choices, and just a bit of creativity to keep you going down the right track.