How to Prevent Fall Weight Gain

How to Prevent Fall Weight Gain

As the cool weather sets in and schedules get even busier, healthy lifestyle habits start falling by the wayside. This can lead to weight gain and perhaps even cycle into some winter blues. Whether you’re at risk for gaining two pounds or 10, it’s important to recognize why you could potentially gain weight – and take steps to prevent it. Here are five fall weight gain traps – and how not to fall into them:

1. Pies, Muffins and Other Baked Goods

Fall is all about pumpkin pie, apple muffins and those to-die-for apple cider donuts sprinkled with sugar. Being surrounded with baked goods that are usually filled with butter, sugar and lots of calories can add pounds to your waistline. But you don’t have to avoid delicious fall baked goods completely. Instead, make lightened up versions.

To prevent weight gain:

  • Instead of one stick of butter, use two tablespoons of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and a half stick of butter.
  • Avoid using canned apple pie filling; instead, make your own filling with fresh apples and a small amount of sugar.
  • Instead of pie crust, make a galette or open-faced tart, or make a crisp using oats and nuts as the crunchy topping.

2. Sweater Weather

With the fall comes rainy or cooler weather. Many outdoor activities you enjoyed throughout the spring and summer – say, swimming and paddleboarding – are more difficult to do inside. Less activity is another lifestyle change that can lead to weight gain over time.

To prevent weight gain:

  • Be conscious of how your activity level is changing. I use my Fitbit to check if I’m making my 10,000 steps each day, and have noticed a drop since the summer. So, I go out of my way to exercise at the hotel gym when I travel for work, schedule indoor tennis games with friends and attend Pilates classes.
  • Try an indoor activity like yoga or Zumba; your local gyms may even offer fall deals.
  • Dust off – and jump on – your treadmill that served as a clothing rack all summer.

3. Candy

During Thanksgiving and Christmas, you’ll read headlines on how to avoid holiday weight gain, but one sugar-filled holiday you sometimes forget about is Halloween. Bringing lots of candy and chocolate into your home isn’t helpful, and neither are the candy-filled parties you may attend. And don’t forget post-Halloween bags of treats just staring you in the face.

To prevent weight gain:

  • Buy goodies to hand out to trick-or-treaters that you don’t like – you’ll be less temptedto eat them.
  • Wait until the last minute to purchase Halloween candy so you don’t end up eating a few too many before the trick-or-treaters come knocking.
  • Donate leftover candy to local hospitals, nursing homes, food pantries or food banks.

4. Comfort Food Cravings

As the weather turns colder, you start craving comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese, chili, stew and lasagna. These hearty dishes may make you feel cozy on a cold day, but they can also be packed with calories and fat.

To prevent weight gain:

  • Lighten up your favorite meat-based dishes by using lean cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken without the skin.
  • Find lightened-up versions of favorite recipes or creative, healthier spins on old favorites. In my cookbook, “The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day,” I provide recipes for a lighter mac and cheese, whole-grain banana chocolate chip pancakes, spaghetti carbonara and artichoke- and fennel-stuffed shells.

5. Takeout Overdoses

Fall doesn’t only mean the beginning of cooler weather, but also the start of busy schedules – you may be meeting lots of deadlines at work and driving to after-school activities, which is exhausting. By the time dinner rolls around, you either don’t have time to pick up what you need at the market or don’t have the energy to cook. This leads to more takeout, delivery or fast-food dinners that tend to be brimming with calories, saturated fat, carbs and sodium.

To prevent weight gain:

  • Over the weekend, plan what you will eat each weeknight. This includes finding easy, healthy recipes to cook and plotting which night you’ll be eating out.
  • Write a shopping list of what you need in order to minimize trips to the market during the busy week.
  • Set aside time after work or even in the morning for meal preparation activities like chopping vegetables.
  • Research healthier takeout and restaurant options nearby. My family, for example, dines at Panera, which has extensive healthy options, or goes to my local market, which has kid-approved grab-and-go sushi.