Avoiding these rich fall favorites can help you make it to Thanksgiving without gaining a pound.
Summer is the season for fresh fruits and vegetables, but when the temperature starts to dip, many of us turn to rich fall foods perfect for football games, hayrides, cozy fireside meals, and, if we aren’t careful, weight gain.
All it takes is an extra 100 calories per day to pack on 10 pounds a year. Year after year, the weight adds up and gets harder to lose. While it's true that cooler weather lets us hide under layers of clothing, the best strategy for your health is to avoid this weight creep altogether, experts say.
"There is no time like the present to tighten the belt and get ready for the holidays, when there are food, temptations and parties galore," says Suzanne Farrell, RD, owner of Cherry Creek Nutrition. "It is only going to get worse as we get closer to the end of the year."
This doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of all your fall favorites, but you do need to make a few simple changes, experts say. Here's a look at some of fall's most fattening foods, along with tips on how to avoid or improve them so you can make it to Thanksgiving without gaining a pound.
Fattening Fall Foods: From Healthy to Horrendous
Fall offers all kinds of delicious and nutritious foods, from apples to root vegetables, but we have a knack for taking healthy foods (think sweet potatoes) and making them decadently rich. When simmered in cream, baked in pie crust, sautéed in butter, or topped with cheese, these foods go from good to bad.
"Foods like apples, squash, nuts, and pumpkin are super nutritious, but the nutritional goodness is masked when you add lots of extra calories," says Tara Gidus, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
And don’t forget those game-day favorites, served on a tailgate or in front of the television. If you're a typical sports fan, you could find yourself seated on the couch for hours at a time on college football Saturday, professional football Sunday, and again on Monday night. Not only is that a big chunk of time to be sitting, but you could easily devour a mountain of chips, nachos, hot dogs, pizza, wings, ribs, sausages, and let’s not forget the beer.
"Eating and drinking for hours at a time coupled with little physical activity is a perfect formula for weight gain," says Gidus.
Oktoberfest adds another opportunity to celebrate, with calorie-laden beer, sausages, and potato salads.