Tips for Shedding Winter Weight

How the seasons affect your eating habits

Fresh greens

By: Richard E. Gans, MD

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

I received this letter from a reader couple of weeks ago:

“With the weather warming I am digging out summer clothes and finding that some things are a bit ‘snug.’ My diet is healthy and I run several times a week, but I would love to shed a few pounds around my waist. If my diet is already good, what would you suggest to take a few pounds off?”

Look to Mother Nature

Let’s look at this from a seasonal point of view. Winter, unlike the warm-weather growing season, is not a time of caloric abundance. Centuries and millennia ago, food was markedly more scarce in the winter.

Nature made up for this annual caloric shortfall with the final ripening, at the end of the growing season, of carbohydrate-rich produce such as squash, pumpkins, beans and potatoes. Notice that as the growing season draws to a close each fall we enjoy acorn squash, pumpkin pie, zucchini bread and stews made sweet with root vegetables.

Advertising Policy

A matter of survival

All of these are foods designed by nature to provide one more chance to increase the likelihood of our surviving through the winter. These kinds of crops served as an insurance policy of sorts to fend off starvation over the winter.

Then, when spring finally arrived, we began to restore our nutritional reserves with the first crops to appear: small green shoots, like asparagus, and then leaves. Low in calories but rich in nutrients.

Think green in spring

Fast forward to the 21st century. We enjoy eating in abundance straight through the winter, and arrive at spring with our winter insulation intact.

The solution? Spring is a great time of the year to eat seasonal, local produce. Greens, parsley, asparagus and rhubarb are coming up. There’s thyme, and rosemary and sage, too, to sprinkle on salads. Eat plenty of greens all year round, but especially in spring. Don’t forget about green smoothies.

Advertising Policy

Final thoughts

A couple more ideas:

1. If you’re looking to improve the way your pants fit, it’s best to get some form of exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be running; you can walk some days, or do yoga, or just stretch.

2. And, finally, do a careful evaluation of your diet for hidden sources of processed sugar. Do your very best to limit added sweeteners. If you can’t find any, then take the next step and switch out your diet soda for club soda or unsweetened iced tea. Let me know how that works.

Originally published on Wellness 365

Advertising Policy
Advertising Policy