Crisp fall air signals decadent meals, pumpkin pies and Halloween candy. However, for most, this can mean constant temptation and a struggle to keep healthy habits alive. By adding a few small tweaks to your everyday routine, you can feel a bit more on-track without needing to eliminate the entire season’s worth of tasty treats. Read on for our advice on navigating the start to the holiday season and our go-to nutrition “hacks” for fall (or any season!).
Lighten up your latte
As pumpkin spice lattes populate just about every café menu, warming up a chilly morning with a rich coffee drink becomes a ritual once the weather turns. But these can add up, and over time, challenge any nutrition goals you may be trying to maintain. If coffee is a non-negotiable for your day, consider making slight changes to your order, like choosing a skim milk-based creamer instead of full-fat and opting for a sweetener made from a lower calorie, natural source like stevia. A calorie-rich latte can quickly transform into a healthier and more sustainable choice without sacrificing too much taste.
Our favorite hack: Create your own healthy DIY PSL using black coffee or espresso, unsweetened almond milk, pumpkin puree, 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice, a dash of stevia and top with cinnamon. Mix with a handheld mixer or put in a blender and enjoy a “light” version of the otherwise sugar-filled drink.
Fire up the fiber
If you ask any nutrition expert (including our own), fiber is the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Fiber helps aid digestion by providing our microbiome the food it needs to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in our gut. A healthy gut is associated with a stronger immune system, a lower risk of anxiety and depression, and a lower risk of diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other preventative conditions. Fiber is found in whole sources of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Increasing the amount of fiber you eat every day can also help support digestion and blood sugar control – and many fiber rich foods contain healthy levels of carbohydrates necessary for building muscle and maintaining energy levels. Certain fiber-rich foods may be fortified in other vitamins for an added benefit.
Our favorite hack: Juicing strips down ingredients and leaves water and sugar behind. Choose smoothies over juices so you do not miss out on fruit or vegetable pulp, skin and seeds that contains healthy fiber.
Pick a protein
Along with fiber comes another essential component of a healthy diet: protein. As the building blocks of muscles, it is important to ingest an adequate amount of protein daily in order to build or maintain muscle mass. Protein also plays an important role in supporting the immune system by creating antibodies that help fight infections, as well as reducing appetite and lowering blood pressure. Adding a source of protein at every meal or snack can help keep hunger levels satiated and arm your body with muscle-supporting nutrients throughout the day, as steady protein intake has been associated with higher lean muscle mass and lower body fat.
Our favorite hack: Be creative with your protein sources. Dollop Greek yogurt on your next veggie burrito or sprinkle edamame in soup or on a salad.
Switch your sweet
There’s no denying: the fall and holiday season can switch on even the most stubborn sweet tooth. You may not be able to say “no” to every treat (nor should you!), but you can make small adjustments to help avoid a full-blown sugar addiction. When reaching for a treat, add a source of protein or fat to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Or even better, switch your treat out with fruit and save splurges for the weekend.
Our favorite hack: Fruit or nuts in combination with a sweet can satisfy cravings while adding in a small source of fiber and vitamins. Dip strawberries in melted dark chocolate or choose chocolate covered almonds instead of a plain bar of chocolate.
Being healthy all year long doesn’t have to be a struggle when you build sustainable habits into your everyday routine. However, adding a few small tweaks to your diet while remaining flexible can help support your health and mindset throughout the fall and holiday season. Want more expert tips? Sign up with our team of Nutrition Coaches today to receive a fully personalized nutrition plan based on your unique body composition goals.