Eat Well All Winter Long

Photo by Salvatore Brancifort

There's no denying it--maintaining your weight and making healthy food choices becomes more difficult as winter rolls in.

In the spring and summer months, fresh produce is plentiful and staying active is as simple as stepping outside on a sunny day. Plus, hot weather can decrease appetite, making it easier to alleviate hunger with lighter bites. However, noshing on crisp greens or sipping a frosty smoothie when there's a chill in the air is less than satisfying.

Try these simple suggestions and healthy, hearty recipes to keep calories under control and your metabolism humming all season long.

WARM UP

Studies have shown that people working in the Antarctic tend to gain weight and body fat due to the extremely low temperatures, social isolation and lack of sunlight. While you may not face such challenging weather conditions, the cold, dark days of winter are likely to impact your diet. The key to warding off the seasonal bulge is to choose healthy foods and beverages that will not only warm you up, but also fill you up with fewer calories.

Soup -- In addition to being a great way to stay warm, broth-based soup makes an excellent, low-calorie meal. Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., a researcher with Pennsylvania State University, reminds us: "Soup is a food you drink." Even though soup is mostly water, our bodies tend to perceive it as a substantial, filling food. Rolls' research found that when participants ate soup before a meal they consumed fewer total calories. For a quick and satisfying soup, try our Simple Sweet Potato Soup.

Chili -- A fiery bowl of chili can heat you up in more ways than one. When you include chili pepper or extra hot sauce, you increase the capsaicin content, the substance responsible for the spicy heat. Capsaicin has been linked to a decrease in triglyceride levels and an increase in metabolism. Stick to vegetarian or turkey chili to reduce the calorie and fat content.

Tea -- Tea is a healthy, calorie-free drink any time of year, and winter months are the perfect time to settle in with a steamy cup. Green tea is a particularly good choice because it contains catechins, which have been shown to boost metabolism. Steer clear of extra sugar or cream to keep your drink low in calories.

Cocoa -- Hot cocoa is a surefire way to chase away the winter blues, but with all that sweetness, how could it be a healthy option? Pure cocoa powder is actually an excellent source of antioxidants. If you can skip the marshmallows, heat up a mug of real cocoa for a healthy winter drink. For a mint chocolate treat, try our delicious Peppermint Cocoa recipe.

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