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Avoiding Winter Weight Gain: Family Tips from a Dietitian

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It Author: Emily Bakker,CDCES,RDN,LD

With frigid temperatures and less hours of daylight in the winter, it's natural to want to move less and eat more.

Registered Dietitian Emily Bakker shares healthy tips that she uses to keep her family active and eating healthy when the winter doldrums settle in.

"In the wintertime especially, I would remind people of the guidelines to limit screen time to two hours or less. Try to avoid the trap of setting kids in front of a screen on cold days to pass the time," said Emily. "Be prepared with an arsenal of fun things to do as a family versus sitting on the couch mindlessly munching on snacks."

Family fun ideas to get you away from the screen:

  • Select a board game and have a family game night.
  • Turn the music on and have a dance party.
  • See who can come up with the most creative musical instrument using items found around the house.
  • Browse Pinterest for fun crafts to do together.
  • Put together a multi-piece puzzle.
  • Start a book series or chapter book. Snuggle up together and read a chapter each night.

"The idea is to keep everyone’s hands and minds occupied to reduce boredom and prevent endless snacking," says Emily.

On cold days, my kids seem to think snack time is every 30 minutes. A good reminder is to use the division of responsibility around meal and snack times. Parents are in charge of deciding when meals and snacks are offered, where the food is consumed, and what foods and snacks are offered.

"Get the kids involved in picking out the 3-5 food groups per meal and 1-2 food groups per snack," encouraged Emily, "We're looking for high-quality foods served during the assigned times. Frequent snacking seems to be exacerbated when those food group goals aren't met!"

  • Eat meals and snacks together at the table to avoid grazing on foods.
  • Pick consistent meal and snack times.
  • Choose high quality foods to serve during the assigned times.

The kids are then responsible for deciding how much they eat, and if they will eat.

Mushroom Salisbury Steak"This recipe for homemade Mushroom Salisbury Steak has been on repeat at our house," said Emily. "We serve it with a hot veggie. It's quick, easy and cost effective."

Warm Chocolate Melting Cup"This recipe for Warm Chocolate Melting Cups is a good dessert for families. Individual servings make it less of a challenge to portion control."

Chilly temps and shorter days don't need to add up to winter weight gain. There are creative ways to keep our bodies moving and healthy options to keep our minds and bodies full this winter.