Friday, December 24, 2010

Winter Eating

Fall days and apple picking are far behind, and winter snow is here to stay. Short daylight hours and long, dreary chilly nights seem to slow me down....and make me want to EAT.

The strawberries and super sweet healthy foods of summer are no longer in season and tend to lose their allure. Although nuts abound, it is easy to go overboard with these high-fat goodies during a serious case of the munchies.

Instead I have again been turning to the usual suspects - hot fudge sundaes, warm cookies, hot chocolate. High fat, low substance, high sugar, low protein....the list of no-no's goes on and on.

Why does it turn this way every year? Is my only option to move to somewhere warm year-round, to pack up and head south permanently? Or should I just resign myself to the constant yo-yo of a four seasons diet?

Not this year, I've said again. Not this year.

I'm recognizing patterns, discussing it with others, and sharing secrets and avoiding pitfalls. I think one of the biggest reasons appetites increase during this season is because activity levels decrease - and in myself and many others, this is always an inverse relationship.

So I am making a conscientious effort to move more, in the hopes of eating less. But on the coldest of days, during the long working hours of my busy season, this is just not possible. Because of this, I've come up with a game plan that involves more than just the usual, "I'm going to work out this winter" resolve.

Basically, it consists of two major but incredibly simple mindsets.

The first - I am trying to stick to a food routine this winter. I noticed that I'm not usually hungry in the morning, and especially not when I first wake up. When I wake up, I only want my coffee while I run around carrying out my crazy, harried, morning routine.

However, if I eat breakfast the moment I am done getting ready for my day, I will eat a carefully measured out portion and be satisfied, because I am eating prior to feeling it is necessary. I am then set until lunch, and can even push it back a little without overindulging.

A later lunch means a smaller afternoon snack, and hunger arriving right in line with dinner. Evening workouts and a small snack get me through on most days without going to bed feeling I haven't eaten enough - nor drained of energy.

The second - I am trying to stick to a particular menu this winter. For example, I have a selection of food available for any given day that includes both a little variety and a little routine.

The routine helps me with my portions. If I eat the same thing often enough, I don't panic if I have to pour it without a measuring cup. I can estimate the quantities much better.

The variety helps hold back cravings. A selection of warm, cooked food versus cold dishes, crunchy mouthfuls versus softer delights, salty versus sweets, helps satisfy my taste buds and varying mindsets.

The menu in total allows for holes - little areas of certain days where indulgence won't hurt a bit. For example, I have a menu day that allows for the sugar content associated with one cup of 1/2 fat ice cream at day's end, and another menu day that allows for the fat grams associated with a fast food grilled chicken sandwich or burger and a small fry.

Everything in moderation.

Will my plan work? Time will only tell...but I sure hope it does.

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