Fall brings about sunshine, crisp fresh air, sweet aromas, bright colors, shorter days and eating more. Yes, eating more. Research shows that people show a marked seasonal rhythm with increased total caloric consumption, especially from carbohydrates, in the Fall, associated with an increase in meal size and a greater rate of eating.
Why do We Eat More
Why do we eat more in the Fall? More than likely, it’s biological–putting on weight in preparation for the potential winter famine our ancestors faced. They would store up for the long winter months because they never knew when their next meal was going to be available. Another explanation could possibly be having less light in the evenings, people tend to spend more time indoors where food is nearby. Perhaps we eat more simply because bathing suit season is over, and we can start hiding excess calories beneath our winter clothes.
Comfort Foods Can be Healthy!
Whatever the reason, it’s important to realize that Fall foods (soups, stews, breads, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, pumpkins, and all types of greens) can actually be healthier than foods of other seasons. They are packed with great nutrients, such as fiber, protein, beta carotene and vitamin C. Here are a few tips to keep the Fall tasty and healthier this year:
- Soups are great for you if they’re not made with cream or cheese. Just watch serving sizes–we tend to eat whatever’s in our bowls.
- Stews can be hearty and fattening. Use lots of fresh vegetables and go light on the meat and potatoes.
- Avoid unconscious eating while watching football and the new fall TV lineup. Never bring the whole bag or bowl of anything to the couch or coffee table–pre-measure it in the kitchen beforehand. When it comes to chips, make sure they’re baked, not fried.
- For pizza, watch the meat toppings and load up on veggies and opt for thin and crispy crust .
- Celebrate the Fall harvest in other ways besides making pies. Apples are low in calories when they’re off the tree, not in a pie.
- If it’s got to be pie, try making pumpkin pie with lower sugar options, egg whites and low-fat milk. And of course, just have one piece.
- Turkey is healthy, as long as you keep it lean and white.
- Get out and enjoy the Fall weather. The air is cooler, the leaves are turning, and the outdoors become more scenic. It’s the perfect time to go outside and do something: Take walks, go for a bike ride, kayak, fish, or visit a park.
- Keep in mind that once we set the clocks back, it gets darker earlier, so there are fewer outdoor options for physical activities in the evening. Make adjustments by joining a gym, planning evening walks in well-lit areas or becoming an early riser.