Summer’s heat or winter’s cold
The seasons pass the years will roll
Time and change will surely (truly) show
How firm thy friendship … OHIO!                                                                                                                                                                                                                    –Carmen Ohio, The Ohio State University Alma Mater

A thriving household depends on the use of seasonal produce and the application of common sense. –Olivier de Serres

Autumn is the Best Time of the Year

It’s here!  It’s here!  My favorite time of the year.  I ABSOLUTELY love the time from late September through the end of the year.  First off, the weather has finally cooled down for the most part.  (We still have HOT days in Cleveland October.  I learned that the hard way by getting sunburn last week!)  Besides those outlier hot days, the fall months have THE BEST weather in my opinion.  The air is cool and comfortable.  The temperature is moderate and not uncomfortable.  You can be warm while wearing jeans and a long sleeve clothing item.  Sweaters and long sleeves tees are my favorite.  But, some may argue that hoodies are the best.  To each their own!

Beyond the coming temps and comfortable clothing options, we have football again!  I love football.  It is my favorite sport to watch.  Football is my second favorite sport to play, just behind baseball.  Football is the only sport I seriously follow.  Probably because the schedule is so easy!  The NFL hosts one game on Thursdays and Mondays, while the rest are played on Sundays.  High school and college games are typically played on Fridays and Saturdays.  This is unlike baseball, basketball, and hockey where the schedules jump around like monkeys on a tree.  I can never follow when games are played!  I truly enjoy following the rookies and veterans in the NFL.  It is always exciting when a player or team has a breakout year and exceed expectations (Brownies this year? Fingers crossed.)  NFL football Sundays are always memorable when I get to relax with great friends, family, and food.

Once Autumn is in full swing, we enter holiday season!  There is always a holiday looming nearby I get excited about.  Halloween gets the good times started.  I don’t know why, but I look forward to handing out treats to the neighborhood kids since I have my own place.  Dressing up is always a great time as well!  After Halloween, we can expect a holiday every 3-4 weeks until the end of the year.  Plus, my birthday falls right before Thanksgiving.  The week of Thanksgiving is always an opportunity to celebrate several nights with family and friends.  And, who can forget Thanksgiving Day?  I became a dietitian partly because I love to eat.  Thanksgiving is the ultimate eating day to me.  After Thanksgiving, we roll into Christmas and New Years.  Always memorable and fun!

So what?

I mention all of this to bring home a point.  Our days and schedules are always changing.  There is almost always something to celebrate or keeping us busy.  We typically eat foods that come along with these seasonal changes and holidays. Most people create noble obstacles in order to make themselves feel better about doing something they know isn’t the best choice.  A noble obstacle is a statement people make to normalize and give credit to a behavior that does not benefit them in the long run.  Creating noble obstacles during these times does not take much effort.  It’s not difficult to say “calories do not count during the holidays.”  Or, “this is my birthday week!  I am partying all week long!”  One of my favorites is “I’ll get back on track next year.  In the mean time, I am going to live it up!”

Using those noble obstacles can unfortunately spill over into other areas of people’s lives.  It’s easy to say “Well, I am eating like crap today.  Might as well skip working out too.”  Another example would be “I had dessert on Christmas Eve and Christmas.  Might as well enjoy as much dessert as I can until the New Year.  I will reset next week!”  I would bet that reset does not happen.
What to do? How do we limit overeating when seasonal and holiday food items become prominent?  Below, I will list some strategies to keep things light and healthy during these times:

Stay in the moment

 I have a belief about nutrition and eating right.  The more you allow yourself to live in the moment, the more often you will make healthy choices consciously.  Mindful eating is a powerful skill to develop.  When we eat mindfully, we become more attentive to our food choices.  We eat less and more healthful options.  We eat more slowly and identify when we are full.  Practice eating mindfully.  Limit distractions and eat slowly.  You will be more conscious of your eating habits.

Enjoy seasonal treats only at special times

 Besides holidays and special occasions, stick to a varied and light menu.  I know how tempting PSLs during Autumn and Peppermint Mochas can be during Winter.  however, they should not be a part of your normal routine.  Why not, you ask?  One PSL from Starbucks clocks in at 330 calories!  Check out more info here: Pumpkin spice Latte Nutrition.   Another example would be Halloween.  I’ve been there.  I’ve had a large bowl of candy after handing out treats. I used to think “what the hell, I am not letting this candy go to waste!’  i would then proceed to eat candy each night for the next two weeks.  Those calories would surely add up!  In stead, you can only keep your absolute favorites and donate or throw out the rest.

Choose the Healthy Food Choices from each Season

Autumn and Winter comfort foods: You can make healthy crock pot meals, soups, casseroles, and chilis,

Spring and Summer Salads: Salads can be tricky if you are not careful.  Many salads include unhealthy toppers and dressings.  Yes, I am talking to you bacon and ranch!  Healthy Salad Ideas here.

Grilling Season: My grill comes out when the winter weather breaks and stays available until the weather takes a dump.  Grill low fat proteins such as chicken, lean beef, and fish.  You can even grill vegetables, and fruits!  Healthy Grilling ideas here.

Holidays: Believe it or not, the typical cuisine for each holiday does offer some healthy options.  Most holidays offer a featured salad, a side of veggies, and some kind of lean protein.  Choose mostly vegetables, lean proteins, and limit the carbs.  And of course, enjoy your most favorite dishes and desserts!  Once the holiday is over, find a better use for the food instead of eating the unhealthy leftovers :).

Seasonal Drinks: I am like most people.  I like my cocktails like every other guy.  Seasonal and holiday drinks are no exception.  I always seem to get on a Mint Julep kick around the Kentucky Derby.  There nothing better than an ice cold vodka soda or White Claw in the Summer. And yes, it’s ok for guys to drink White Claws!  If you are choosing to drink alcohol, always limit it to one or two drinks most of the time.  Choose lower calorie drinks without added sugar.  If possible, add fruit to flavor your drinks.

Thank you for reading!  I hope you found this post enlightening.  As you can see, there are endless options to eat well all year round.  There really is no excuse to eat unhealthy UNTIL later or AFTER a certain time.  The time is always now.  If you try any of these recipes or tips, let me know how they went for you!  As Always, Eat, Move, and Improve!

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