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Prevent These Fall Fat Traps

 

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year. I love everything about it, from apple picking to Halloween to marveling at the leaves and wearing cozy sweaters. But for a lot of my clients, it marks the beginning of a downward spiral of overeating that doesn’t end until after the New Year. If that sounds familiar, commit to making this year different. Here’s how to tackle three of the most common autumn dietary landmines:

Starch Surplus

Starting in the fall a lot of us tend to transition from eating entrée salads and smoothies to hearty, hot meals like stews, chili and pasta. Because foods like pasta and potatoes are so much denser in carbs than veggies, it’s important to pay attention to the proportions of your meal. When you’re whipping up a pasta, stew or casserole dish, make 50 percent of the bulk of the meal or recipe veggies, and keep the starchy portion to about the size of half a baseball. This configuration will naturally prevent you from overloading on carbs, but you’ll still get to enjoy a generous portion overall.

Fun-Sized Foibles
I’m a sucker for anything related to Halloween, but those mini-candy bars can add up to major weight gain. If you buy candy early, make it more difficult to get to. Instead of displaying it in a decorative bowl, keep the bag sealed, put it in another bag, and place it on a high shelf where you won’t see it. Studies show the more steps you have to go through to get a food, the less of it you’ll eat, but if it’s right in front of you, you’ll grab it without even thinking about it (and probably forget you ate it).

Primetime Snacking Fall brings new TV shows and the return of old favorites (hello Dexter!). The average adult watches almost five hours of television per day, and unfortunately it can be a double whammy for your waistline – your metabolism slows down and you eat more. So when you’re watching must-see-TV, plan your healthy snack in advance. Popcorn is my favorite. Three cups (the size of three baseballs) counts as a serving of whole grains. You can pop it yourself old-fashioned style by combining a quarter cup of kernels and one tablespoon of sunflower oil in a covered saucepan. If you want to doctor it up, skip the butter and salt and sprinkle on a little chipotle seasoning – the heat it provides has been shown to rev up metabolism. Even better, watch a show that makes you laugh out loud; research shows that belly laughs produce the same type of healthy benefits as aerobic exercise!

Do you tend to put on some padding in the fall? What are your biggest fall challenges? Please share your comments or tweet them to @cynthiasass and @Shape_Magazine.   
 
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

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