Peg Fitkowski, RD, CDN

Winter can be really tough for people who are striving for proper nutrition and a healthy weight. Between the desire to hibernate when it’s cold and the food-centric and sometimes stressful holidays, many find an extra pound or two hanging around come the New Year.

The good news is that there are solutions to many common seasonal issues that can help you stick to your health goals.

Problem: You crave rich comfort foods

Solution: Try using whole grains, seasonal produce and protein-rich beans to add a savory taste and texture to meals.  For your favorite recipes, search the Internet or ask your friends for a lower calorie substitute.  If you do overindulge and are feeling sick or sluggish, commit to a healthy day of well-balanced meals.  Many people find that the higher energy and improved mood that come along with healthy eating can be highly motivating.

Problem: It is freezing and you have no motivation to work out.

Solution: You may not want to bundle up and go out to exercise or even travel through the snow to the gym.  A lot of people will turn to home workout systems or videos.  But many others still feel unmotivated.  One great solution is to find a winter activity you like – be that skiing, sledding, snowshoeing or even just playing with the kids.  Another way to introduce play into your day and push over the motivational hurdle is to do a TV or movie workout.  Make a list of items in advance – e.g., 10 jumping jacks every time a favorite character says a catch phrase – and complete them as you watch the program.  It’s good for your body to get up and moving and can be a lot of fun.

Problem: Too many delicious food and beverages at parties

Solution:  Eat and drink a normal, healthy diet up to the event.  Do not fast in advance as it will lead to overeating.  Make sure you stay really well hydrated, drinking water before, during and after the party.  If you choose to drink alcohol – first always drink responsibly – set a limit upfront and stick to lower-calorie options (such as beer or wine vs. most mixed drinks).  Look at all of the dining options before you eat.  Pick your two or three favorites.  Have samples of these dishes only and then load up on healthy options such as salad or a veggie tray with light dip.