It is extremely hard to maintain any kind of diet any time of the year, but especially during the winter. Your body needs the carbohydrates and if you deprive it (along with the sunshine), you will find yourself in not so optimal mood. Therefore, I recommend making slight modifications to your daily meals, making them healthier so that you can still accomplish your new year’s resolution of staying fit or losing those extra pounds gained over the holidays.
Here are 5 easy steps you can take to enjoy a hearty meal while staying focused on a healthy diet.
Switch to whole grain – Whole wheat and whole grain bread, pasta, Bulgar, couscous, quinoa, wild rice – are all good choices that give you the comfort of carbohydrates without the extra starch and sugar found in white flour. Whenever you have an option, get the whole grain version of the starch.
Soup it – Soups and stews are great ways of filling up without eating a lot of calories. Soups made with vegetables and broths are comforting on a cold wintry night. Avoid adding cream and use skim milk or sour cream to make a cream based soup. Believe it or not pretty much any dish you love can be made into a soup – think chicken curry and rice soup, shrimp red curry soup. Let your imagination flow!
Keep it together – I find that most casserole recipes are loaded with cheese, bread crumbs, creams, etc. that don’t have much nutritional value. If you decide to make casserole dinners for your family, try vegetarian options such as layered veggies with low fat cottage cheese, veg lasagna with little cheese, and rice and spinach casserole.
Roast or grill – It’s hard to be motivated to start the outdoor grill when it’s 30F outside. A good alternative is to roast in the oven. My favorite make-ahead recipe is sliced mixed veggies (eggplant, zucchini, squash, onion, carrots, turnips), seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil and grilled in the oven till crispy. You can use it on top of salads, in sandwiches, wraps or as a side.
Get veg – Generally speaking, a vegetarian diet will give you more nutrients, keep you fuller longer and have fewer calories than a carnivorous meal plan. Now, don’t go on loading on cheese and pasta to say you are eating vegetarian! I mean whole grains, lentils, fresh fruits, cooked vegetables and little dairy. They say that your body takes up to a week to absorb meat, whereas vegetarian food passes through within 24 hours. So, it may also be a good way to cleanse yourself in the new year.