When the temperature drops, we are much more tempted to cozy up on the couch and binge-watch our fave shows (Friday Night Lights, Downton Abbey, Scandal, House of Cards, to name a few of my personal picks!), instead of hitting the gym. And it’s not only our workout routines that fall by the wayside…incidental activity plummets as well. Instead of parking the car further away, you park as close to an entrance as possible; instead of bundling up and hitting the grocery store for healthy meal-prep items, you order takeout; and the list goes on.
And then there’s the eating frenzy. The more time we spend indoors, the more we tend to eat, and we typically crave hearty, fattening comfort foods like meaty casseroles, mac & cheese, and mashed potatoes. To make matters worse, since we’re able to wear big puffy layers of winter clothing, the incentive to watch what we’re eating is minimized.
That being said, if you’ve gained weight over the colder months, forgive yourself and forge forward with these strategic tips to cut calories, rev metabolism, and suppress appetite so you can whip your body into seasonal shape.
CUT CALORIES BY…
> Swapping starch with cauliflower. Mild, sweet cauliflower is a huge bargain at just 25 calories per cup, and once you start experimenting, you’ll be amazed at how versatile this veggie is. You can make cauliflower mashed “potatoes”, blend it into a creamy soup, create a cauliflower pizza crust or make “rice.” The possibilities are endless, and I’ve seen all sorts of cauliflower concoctions popping up on restaurant menus like cauliflower “steak!”
> Going topless. Eat sandwiches and burgers without a top to immediately cut 100 calories. Plus, in some cases, you’ll also lose a layer of mayo that typically goes on the top slice, saving another 100 calories. If you’d like to up the ante, try going totally bread-less, and wrap your sammies and burgers in lettuce or use grilled portabello mushroom caps as a bun.
REV UP YOUR METABOLISM BY ENJOYING…
> Shrimp cocktails. As the skinniest appetizer in town, each shrimp is just about 8 calories and because it’s pure protein, it revs your metabolism and helps keep you feeling full (protein is harder to digest than carbs and fat, so your body works harder to break it down, causing an uptick in your metabolism).
Bonus: spicy cocktail sauce amplifies metabolic burn and helps squelch your appetite.
> Greek yogurt. This thick creamy yogurt is made by straining regular yogurt to remove most of the whey, which concentrates the nutrients, making this a super-high protein pick. And just like the shrimp, the high protein-content takes your digestive system longer to break down, meaning it revs up your engine and increases your calorie burn. Greek yogurt makes a perfect grab-and-go breakfast with a banana. or an energizing afternoon pick-me-up. Here’s another tasty tip: use plain nonfat Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream or mayo in a dip recipe or creamy salad dressing like this Cilantro Sour Cream.
SUPPRESS YOUR APPETITE BY ADDING…
> 1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds to your daily menu. Chia Seeds love water and swell up in your digestive tract taking the edge off your hunger. In fact, they are able to absorb 9-10 times their weight in water. This property, in addition to the whopping 5 grams of fiber per tablespoon, make these nutrition sprinkles especially filling. Add 1 Tablespoon each day to your daily menu by sprinkling on oatmeal, yogurt, or add them into smoothies, the sky’s the limit! In fact, give this tasty Pumpkin-Chia Oatmeal a try.
> The scent of peppermint. Light a peppermint candle, chew on peppermint gum, or sip on peppermint tea. A study found that when participants smelled peppermint every 2 hours, they consumed nearly 3000 fewer total calories and rated their hunger level significantly lower than participants not exposed to peppermint. Who knew?!