5 Ways To Avoid Gaining Weight This Winter

Winter might not officially kick off until December 21, but the temperature's dropping, we're getting all bundled up and the comfort food-filled holidays are just about here. And let's face it: braving the cold, hiding under a bunch of layers and being surrounded by indulgences can be the perfect recipe for packing on a few pounds.

Marjorie Korn, SELF magazine's associate editor of food and nutrition, stopped by HuffPost Live just in time to share the five best tips to avoid gaining weight this winter (while still enjoying all the season has to offer, of course!). Read on for her healthy secrets and watch the video above for more tips.

1. Exercise Outdoors
winter exercise
You may be disinclined to go outside because it's chilly, but Korn says by all means don't hunker down by the fire. Get yourself some cute workout gear and take it out for a spin! Whether it's running, cycling, or oh-so-festive ice skating (which burns 450 calories an hour and tones your butt and thighs by the way), being active in nature is simply more fun than battling crowds at the gym. Research also shows that the refreshing burst of air will keep you coming back.

2. Stock Up On Superfoods
It's true that some foods can actually help you lose weight, not to mention reduce your risk of disease. The greatest part is that many
are also holiday staples, so you probably have some on your menu already!
  • Keep passing those sweet potatoes. The orange-colored spuds contain lots of fiber, which makes you feel fuller for longer.
  • Kale is not only the trendiest leafy green out there right now, but it's also the most nutritious. Serve it at your holiday dinners and friends and family will be thankful for the new tradition.
  • Apples are superstars, so if you find some in, say, a pie, at least you know you're getting some health benefits out of it!

3. Lighten Up Seasonal Favorites
macaroni cheese
Nothing hits the spot quite like a hearty scoop of macaroni and cheese. You don't have to deny yourself this comforting favorite thanks to some cal-cutting research from SELF! Red Rooster Harlem chef and owner Marcus Samuelsson threw veggies like kale, mushrooms and onions into his dish and used turkey bacon in place of the fattier stuff. Mac & Cheese, Please! author Laura Werlin incorporated butternut squash into her sauce, which adds to its creamy texture and gives a nice dose of vitamins A and C. Perhaps the easiest swap of all when it comes to mac and cheese though is the cheese. Try Parmesan instead of American, for example -- since the flavor is stronger, you'll be able to use less and be just as satisfied.

4. Have An Eating Plan
"People can freak out and set themselves up for disaster," notes Korn. All those choices at the table aren't a bad thing though. If you love grandma's cookies, you can have them! To make sure you don't overdo it by the end of the day, be prepared:
  • Eat breakfast in the morning to get your metabolism going.
  • Exercise before the feast. It will influence the way you feel (and the way you think) about food.
  • Play with your plate: Pick and choose which proteins and carbs you really want.
  • Wait 20 minutes before grabbing seconds to see if you're really still hungry.
  • Don't drink too many calories. Water is best, but a glass of red wine is good for your heart. If you're more into the hard stuff, mix your liquor of choice with sparkling water and lime instead of tonic or soda.
5. Nix Stress
From parties galore to gift-giving and family reunions, there's no doubt this busy time of year can be super stressful -- and take a physical toll on us. Stressing makes cortisol levels rise, which forces your body to hold onto fat. In turn, hunger hormone levels rise, and then we end up doing things like "eating our feelings." Follow Korn's steps to fight the stress of the season:
  • Have a financial plan. Factor in presents and going out on the town to celebrate.
  • Ready yourself with answers to all those awkward questions about work, your love life and anything that could be uncomfortable.
  • Remember to rest. Getting a solid night's sleep is crucial. You'll combat stress and make better food choices after catching enough Zzs, too.

Who needs New Year's resolutions with this list?!

Follow Lauren Mikler on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaurenMikler

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