As soon as October hits, our calendars become booked with holiday events, football games, and scary movie-watch parties for the rest of the fall season. And although this is a fun time of year, it can bring new opportunities for weight gain and veering away from our health goals.
Now, we’re not here to tell anyone they can’t enjoy their favorite Halloween candy. But if you’re someone who wants to have fun and maintain your weight goals, there are some simple tips you can follow, according to the experts.
Read on to learn the dietitian-recommended tips for avoiding the fall weight gain, and for more healthy eating tips, make sure to check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
“The stressful start of a new school year, colder weather, comfort food, and food-central holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving can be a recipe for your weight to creep up in the fall,” says Laura Burak, MS, RD, author of Slimdown with Smoothies, and founder of Laura Burak Nutrition, “which is why it’s important to get outside and move whenever you’re able.”
Balancing out your holiday treats with more walking or biking can be an easy way to avoid the dreaded fall weight gain.
“A healthy life is not about avoiding your favorite indulgences, but rather balancing them out in other consistent ways,” says Burak.
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Stock up on healthy snacks
The fall season can feel like one of the busiest times of the year, which means that prepping the right snacks becomes all the more important.
“Stock up on healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies, hummus, or guac to keep in your house so you always have an alternative to the mini Snickers bar your son just offered you,” says Burak.
And if you’re on the go throughout the day, you can take your snacks with you!
“Packing snacks in a lunch box or keeping non-perishable snacks in your bag can help you make better choices when you’re busy,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook, “so try packing something easy like protein bars, beef jerky, or nuts.”
RELATED: 50 Healthy Snack Ideas to Keep You Slim
Cook at home
Another great way to avoid the extra pounds this season is by trying to cook at home more and order less take-out.
“The more you eat from home, the healthier you will naturally eat and therefore, the less chance you have of seasonal weight gain,” says Burak.
And if cooking is something you really enjoy, you can get into the festive fall spirit by trying new recipes or using seasonal produce.
“For the fall, focus on seasonal fruits and veggies like pumpkin, squash, and apples because you will naturally be taking in more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well as fewer added calories and less salt,” says Burak, “and you may even feel a sense of connection by eating with the season or eating something you prepared yourself.”
RELATED: 63 Fall Recipes For Weight Loss
Keep up with your exercise routine
It’s normal that as the fall season gets busier and the days start to feel shorter, you may be tempted to skip out on your workout routine.
“Naturally, people will enjoy more high-calorie foods during the fall and holiday season,” says Goodson, “so if you don’t keep up with exercising, it could lead to weight gain.”
Even if the type of workout you usually do needs to be adjusted to fit your busier schedule, it’s still important to get some type of movement every day.
Plan your splurging
The fall season brings holiday parties, Halloween candy, and tailgating drinks, but does this mean you have to miss out on all of these treats?
“You can still enjoy some fall goodies, but maybe not multiple times a day, seven days a week,” says Goodson, “so as you go into a week, look at what’s coming up, and pick and choose where you want to splurge.”
And if you’re heading to a fall festivity but decide you don’t feel like splurging that day, Goodson suggests coming prepared by “bringing a lower-calorie, nutrient-rich option to the party so you know there will be a better-for-you choice available!”
Increase your fiber intake
According to registered dietitian Kim Rose, RD with Lose It!, getting enough fiber is a crucial step in watching your weight this fall.
“Fiber helps you stay full for a longer period of time while simultaneously reducing your appetite,” says Rose, “so try incorporating high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your daily diet.”
Rose also adds that if you need some high-fiber seasonal options for the fall, go for apples, pumpkin, spinach, or fresh cranberries.
RELATED: One Major Effect of Eating Fiber-Rich Foods, Says Expert
Be aware of emotional eating
Registered dietitian Sarah Williams, MS, RD, owner and founder of Sweet Balance Nutrition, notes that fall can sometimes bring more time at home, with possibly more boredom or seasonal depression. For some, this can lead to emotional eating, which can in turn lead to weight gain.
“To prevent weight gain from emotional eating, it’s important to practice recognizing the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger,” says Williams, “so before you eat, ask yourself ‘am I physically hungry or am I just bored?’ or ‘am I physically hungry or am I just sad?'”
Williams suggests that whenever you may be wanting to eat for emotional reasons, try finding another distraction like calling a friend, cleaning the kitchen, or going for a nice autumn walk!
Eat more vegetables
Eating more vegetables is an important part of avoiding fall weight gain. According to Williams, veggies are great because they’re “low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, so you can eat a lot of them without going overboard on calories.”
Not only that, but she also points out that the fiber you get from vegetables can help you feel full for longer periods of time throughout the day.
“To incorporate more veggies into your fall routine, try making new and unique salads, eating veggies and dip for a snack, or enjoying roasted veggies as a side dish with your meals,” says Williams.
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