What is the easiest way to get in shape for your summer vacation? It’s eating healthy during the cold winter months and skipping the beach-body crash diets of years past. As soon as temperatures start rising, I see patients trying to lose the extra pounds that crept on around the holidays and stayed through the winter.
I’m here to tell you how to maintain a healthy body with smart seasonal eating so you can avoid the summer diet panic.
We all know crash diets are unhealthy and rarely effective. The key to healthy weight loss is replacing processed unhealthy foods with better choices like fruits and vegetables. Believe me, if you’re filling up on winter favorites like hearty braised kale, sweet roasted parsnips and juicy sliced pears, there will be no need to count calories. Eating smart will always satisfy your hunger and sustain you year round. By enjoying more winter produce while the weather is chilly, you’ll be ready to start working on your tan on the first sunny day of spring.
Enjoying Fresh Produce
The winter season is not beloved for its bounty of fresh produce. However, the assumption that eating fresh fruits and vegetables during winter is difficult is simply untrue. Winter produce may not be as colorful as a crop of summer berries or as enticing as a basket of fresh peaches, but it is just as nutritious and easy to enjoy.
Winter produce also has an important advantage over delicate summer fruit and vegetables—it stands up to storage. For example, you can keep sweet potatoes and pomegranates on hand for at least two weeks, while plums and zucchini need to be consumed within a few days.
Once you realize that there are a variety of fresh choices available during winter, you can start integrating more fruit and vegetables into your diet. When you replace processed, high-calorie food with nutritious, high-fiber produce, you will consume fewer calories and lose weight. All winter produce offers health benefits, but some are especially packed with antioxidant super powers.
Here are my top 5 winter produce picks, but feel free to add to this list. Happy winter weight loss!
1) Squash – Bite for bite, hearty winter squash have more nutrients than their summer cousins. They are rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene, two antioxidants that prevent cancer, heart disease and some eye problems. Roast the chopped flesh with olive oil, chili powder and cinnamon.
2) Sweet Potatoes – Their deep orange color means these spuds share a similar nutrient profile with winter squash. The advantage of sweet potatoes is that they are easy to prepare and are a good source of fiber. Simply bake them in their skins or peel, boil and mash lowfat milk and spices.
3) Red Cabbage – A diet high in cruciferous vegetables may prevent cancer thanks to antioxidants. Red cabbage contains anthocyanins, potent antioxidants found in berries, that may boost memory and heart health. It is also loaded with vitamin K to support healthy bones. Try it in a salad dressed with apple cider vinegar and plain lowfat yogurt.
4) Pomegranate – This ancient fruit may have three times the antioxidant power of green tea, helping to fend off cancer and heart disease. Add to salads or make a fresh salsa to garnish roast pork or lamb. To avoid staining hands, hold half the fruit in a bowl of water and remove the seeds.
5) Citrus Fruit – Aside from the obvious vitamin C, oranges and their relatives provide folic acid, potassium and selenium. Furthermore, they are rich in a substance called hesperetin, a flavonoid that may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Eat them as is or use citrus fruit as a topping for lowfat frozen yogurt with a sprinkling of coconut.