Fall into Healthy Eating

Don’t you just love New York in the fall? The hills are painted with the vibrant colors of changing leaves, the smell of campfire smoke brings a smile to your face, and the kids head back to school. Ahh.

But as wonderful as it is, September is the start of a difficult time of year for healthy eating. With so many holiday parties, celebrations, and family gatherings coming up, it’s easy to be a little lax in the nutrition department.

The result? The dreaded winter weight gain. It happens to all of us — but it doesn’t have to. Fall brings with it a new menu of seasonal foods to help keep your nutrition balanced and your body healthy. We’ll show you what to shop for and share a few tips that’ll help you fall into healthy eating as the holidays approach.

Don’t forget the farmers’ market
Farmers’ markets aren’t just for the summer months. The fall harvest is full of vegetables and roots that are chock full of the good stuff. Like what, you ask? Antioxidants that protect the body from damage; folate, which is key for cell growth and metabolism; and beta-carotene, which aids vision and bone growth. And that’s just for starters!

Find a farmers’ market in your area and stock up on fall fruits, root vegetables, and leafy greens. Fill your basket with goodies like apples, brussels sprouts, carrots, cranberries, parsnips, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, turnips, and winter squashes like acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash. Mmm!

Go whole or go home
The fall harvest also yields a long list of whole grains and foods that are technically seeds but are used as grains. These foods support good nutrition and health with high levels of B vitamins, which are well known for keeping the body running like a well-oiled machine. These essential vitamins help us convert food into fuel, allowing us to stay energized throughout the day — an important benefit as the days grow shorter!

Enjoy meals with barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, and wild rice. If you’re confused about how to prepare them, don’t worry — they’re incredibly versatile in the kitchen. Use them in stuffing, muffins, breads, veggie burgers, soups and stews, side dishes, and more. If you’re an adult, three servings of whole grains every day will do your body a world of good.

 

Moderation is your friend
Fall brings with it a lot of tempting treats, not the least of which is pumpkin spice everything. But be careful! Those tasty treats are loaded with empty calories and sugar, which is emerging as the true culprit behind America’s obesity epidemic. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying fall treats — just take it easy and make sure they stay firmly in the “every now and then” category.

If you’re up for spending a bit of quality time with your blender, you can enjoy a healthier version of that tasty pumpkin spice latte. (Need a recipe? Right this way.)

Game plans aren’t just for Sunday football
If you know you’re going to head to a party or holiday dinner, make sure you’ve got a game plan in place. Avoid arriving when you’re super hungry, since it’ll make you more likely to overindulge.

Instead, eat a small, protein-packed snack before you go and be sure to drink plenty of water before dinner. Need some ideas? Grab a handful of almonds, some hummus and a few carrot sticks, or a bit of Greek yogurt. You’ll feel fuller, eat a moderate amount, and still get to enjoy a great dinner.

Stay active
It’s awfully hard to get out of a warm, snuggly bed in the morning — especially when it’s still dark outside and the air is crisp and cool. But the change in season can be just the thing you need to get going. Get started now and you’ll build up enough momentum to carry you through fall and beyond.

Whatever your routine, there are couple tips and tricks you can use to stay active and safe:
● Layer up! It might be cool outside, but your body will warm up quickly as you exercise. Stay toasty and dry with layers of moisture-wicking clothing. Wear a zip-up or pull-over that you can easily remove.
● Stay safe! Starting in the fall, it gets dark faster. When you’re out and about, wear reflective clothing. Use the flashlight on your smartphone if you need to. And if you’re a bicyclist, invest in some headlights and tail lights for extra visibility.

We’ll cover more fall workout tips in next month’s blog, so be sure to check back!

Lucky for us, living in Western New York makes it easy to fall into good health and nutrition. The agriculture sector is one of Western New York’s top employers. There are farmers’ markets in towns and cities throughout the eight-county region and farm stands line the roads in rural areas. Stop in and stock up! And as we’ve written before, Western New York offers ample opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

New York in the fall is a wonderful place to be. Fall’s bounty makes it easy to stay healthy through the seasonal changes.