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Preventing the Winter 5 or More

By Margaret Furtado, MS RD LDN CYT and Joseph Ewing, RD LDN

It’s winter time…..depending where you live, that may mean snow, a roaring fire, and a sense of hibernation from the usual day-to-day hustle and bustle.   For many people, it means a few extra pounds over the coldest months due to inactivity and perhaps poor foods choices, but here are a few tips for preventing the “winter 5” if not 10-pound gain:
·       Protein first: make sure you include protein in every meal and snack to help keep your fullness factor up and minimize poor choices made when you’re overly hungry. Great protein choices in the winter could include low-fat chili, lean ground turkey, steamed fish dishes, and hot tofu dishes, like stir-fries.
·       Fiber is your friend: keep in mind that your body can’t use fiber for calories, and fiber helps you to feel full. It also may help keep your blood sugar stable, which could help minimize feeling overly-hungry due to low blood sugar. Fiber helps to keep you fuller longer than foods without fiber, and may even help with cholesterol, as well as constipation (depending on the kind and amount of fiber).
·       Fluid rules: remember that it’s so important to avoid dehydration, and sometimes being indoors with dry heat, we may need more fluids than you think. Very light or clear urine and moist skin are just some ways of knowing if you’re getting enough fluid. Many times you may think you’re hungry, but up to 2/3 of the time you could actually be thirsty and feel satisfied drinking water or another beverage. Hot beverages, such as herbal tea, decaffeinated coffee or sugar-free hot cocoa may not only help prevent dehydration, but may help you feel satisfied and full, so they may help with your weight management plan.
·       Avoid skipping meals: It’s tempting to skip a meal here and there if you’re at home during winter time because you’re not as active, but try to keep in a pattern of eating a meal every 5 hours or so to avoid the possible “semi-starvation” message you might be giving to your brain and/or possible rebound and/or overeating at the next meal.
·       Healthy snacks: If your stomach is growling and you’re hungry in-between meals, go with the 1-2 punch of protein with fiber for staying power, such as hummus and vegetables or all-natural peanut butter and an apple. This combination will hold you over much longer than, say, just a piece of fruit.
Here’s a heart-warming recipe for those cold winter days that Joe Ewing, chef and coauthor of my new book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Well After Weight Loss Surgery, just cooked up. Bon apetit!  
Hearty Turkey Chili
Servings:      8Turkey Chili
Serving Size: 1 Cup
Prep Time:  10 Minutes
Cook Time:   2 hours (regular instructions)
5-7 hours (slow cooker)
2 Medium Spanish Onions
4 Bell Peppers
1 (15.5 oz) can Kidney Beans
1 (15.5 oz) can Cannellini Beans
1 (15.5 oz) can Black Beans
1 TB Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 (16 oz) pkg. 93% Fat Free Ground Turkey
1 (26 oz) can Peeled Ground Tomatoes, Canned, Low-Sodium
1 McCormick Seasoning Mix Chili Hot
1 McCormick Seasoning Mix Chili 30% Less Sodium
2 TB Dried Parsley
1 TB Garlic Powder
1 TB Red Chili Flakes
1 Tsp Splenda
2 Tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
1.    Dice Spanish onions and bell peppers to medium-small size, about the size of the tip of your pinkie finger, and place in bowl; set aside.
2.    Rinse canned beans under cold water and set aside in a separate bowl.
3.    Heat a heavy bottomed medium-large pot, on medium-high heat, heat extra-virgin olive oil.
4.    Add ground turkey and cook until browned.
5.    Add onions and peppers, and reduce heat to medium-low and cook until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
6.    Add beans, tomato sauce, spice packets, dried parsley, garlic powder, red chili flakes, Splenda and black pepper.
7.    Stir all ingredients and cover with a lid.
8.    Cook on low heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Nutritional Information:
290 calories
23 grams protein
6 grams fat
38 grams carbohydrates
10 grams fiber
Slow Cooker Version:
1.    Turn slow cooker on low.
2.    Dice Spanish onions and bell peppers to medium-small size, about the size of the tip of your pinkie finger, and place in slow cooker.
3.    Rinse canned beans under cold water and pour in slow cooker with onions and peppers.
4.    Heat extra-virgin olive in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
5.    Brown ground turkey and pour contents of pan into slow cooker.
6.    Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker and cover.
7.    Allow to cook for approximately 6-8 hours.
Slow cooker recipes are great for this time of year because you can just throw all your ingredients in the crock pot, and let it go. It’s just one less thing you have to worry about. Chef Jimmy Gallagher of the Post Office Cafe in East Greenwich, Rhode Island says he uses his slow cooker at least once a week. It’s a quick and easy way for him to cook for his family, especially since he works long hours in the kitchen and can’t always be there to whip something up. Another great thing about using a slow cooker is that you don’t have to use as much fat to cook your food. Slow cookers keep food moist, and help retain many of the nutrients from vegetables and meats that would otherwise be lost using other methods of cooking.
The winter is a perfect time to set new goals for yourself. Try thinking of new ways that you can fit in protein, workouts and healthy food into your daily routine, like adding more fiber to your diet and ways to get in more fluids.