For most of my life as soon as the cool weather came around I gained 10 lbs. I used to joke that I was 'putting on insulation' for the winter. I didn't really mind - all those heavy sweaters hid the extra chub just fine. But then Spring would arrive and I'd find myself in a mad dash to drop all that weight in time for swimsuit season. And I'd always vow that next winter I'd skip the weight gain and just wear more layers. And every winter I'd put the weight right back on again. So what is it about winter that makes me fat?
I have to admit, I connect with food on an emotional level. It's not just about nourishment to me, it's about joy and comfort. And I love to celebrate. My favorite way to celebrate the upcoming season, and to bring myself a little extra 'warmth,' is to cook something hearty and hot. Which means heavy on the carbs and dairy. There's something about a crisp autumn day that just sends me running to the kitchen to toss a chicken-pot-pie and apple cobbler in the oven. It doesn't just feed my tummy, it feeds my soul. Cheesy I know, but it's too true. In the summer, I'm totaly happy to chow down on watermelon and berries and light salads. It's festive. But during the winter, I just crave something heavy and savory. So how can I feed my cravings and keep the weight off?
First tactic: use my other senses. I don't have to have an apple pie in the oven to make my house smell like fall. I have a drawer full of 'harvest' scented candles that do a pretty good job of making my house feel festive. I can put out pumpkins and fall napkins to remind myself of the season. And I can take the kids on nostalgic trips to get in the holiday mood.
Second tactic: modify my comfort cooking. The internet (and my huge stack of cookbooks) are full of 'healthy' updates to common comfort foods. Slimmed down casseroles and stews can taste just as good and not add to the waistline. And in a pinch I need to remind myself that a hearty dish doesn't need to be the center of a meal. Served with a big salad or a brothy soup a casserole can stretch for two or more meals - good for the diet and the wallet.
Third tactic: get more exercize. My favorite form of working out is walking. But in the winter I can't spend much time outside. So, I'll have to head back to all those strategies I created for getting a little more movement in my day. If I do cave in and scarf down a heaping pile of macaroni casserole (as I did for lunch the last two days - oops) I can add an afternoon dance-a-thon with the kids and do some damage control. Or combat the apple crisp with a yoga class. Or the chicken-pot-pie with a workout dvd.
So if I remember the axiom "all things in moderation" perhaps I really can have my pie and eat it too. And if I work really hard to keep off that extra 'insulation' maybe I'll treat myself to a nice new cozy sweater....