Winter can leave more than just dead grass and inflated heating bills in its wake. Trapped indoors, people tend to move less and spend more time grazing on holiday leftovers. The result: clothing that starts to feel a size too small.
Here are a few ways you can mitigate the effects of hibernation with some effective—but easy—changes to your eating habits.
JUST ADD WATER
Everyone knows that keeping up with water intake is a good way to stay hydrated and eat less. But not as many people realize that sticking with meals that have a high water content can be a good alternative to simply chugging H2O. Try soups, fresh produce, and hot cereals as a way to fill up without filling out.
The metabolism-scorching effects of green tea might have been exaggerated, but it still provides enough of a calorie-burning kick—up to 70 calories a day without any other dietary or fitness changes—to add up over time. You can also opt for hot peppers: The capsaicin in them boosts metabolism and can help keep hunger at bay.
DIG INTO STRAWBERRIES
At snacktime, you can’t do much better than strawberries. A serving adds necessary fiber to your diet, which increases satiety, lowers the insulin response, and keeps you feeling fuller longer. According to a 2009 study, subjects who added just 8 grams of fiber to their diets for every 1000 calories consumed lost more weight than those who didn’t. You don’t need to stuff yourself to reap the benefits: one cup of strawberries contains a whopping 3 grams of fiber.
Carbs are not the enemy: Carbs in excess of what you need for energy are. To help minimize overeating, go for sandwiches that are open-faced—just one slice of whole wheat bread with your choice of ingredients.
GET THE RIGHT OATMEAL
There’s a reason oatmeal is considered a go-to breakfast option: Loaded with fiber and healthy carbohydrates, it’s the perfect way to break your sleep-induced fast. But the processed and boxed “instant” versions have a lot of their nutrients stripped away, and boast added sugar. Stick to stovetop oats with no fancy gimmicks and add your own toppings—try dried fruits or peanut butter—for flavor.
DON’T ABANDON CHEESE
It’s never a good idea to smother everything in gooey mozzarella, but opting for Parmigiano-Reggiano in an omelet could pay off in the long run. Low in calories and high in calcium, it also has protein to keep you feeling full.
CLEAN OUT YOUR PANTRY
If you comforted yourself all winter with processed, boxed foods, try a storage purge. Donate unopened snack reserves to local charities. When potato chips aren’t within arm’s reach, you’re far more likely to grab something better for your waistline.
MAKE IT A FAMILY AFFAIR
While families with poor eating habits can sometimes reinforce them by ordering mass quantities of pizza, the reverse is also true: Committing to preparing and sharing a healthy, balanced meal for a sit-down dinner helps people eat better. Take turns cooking, or divvy up a recipe’s responsibilities, in order to get everyone involved.
Continue reading: Surprisingly Smart Food Swaps