5 Healthy Ways to Embrace Fall

The air is cooler. And dryer. The grass doesn’t need to be cut twice a week, and there is pumpkin spice something or other everywhere.

I think that every season brings forth a sense of renewal. At each season’s change we are motivated to wipe the slate clean, forget the mistakes of the past and move forward to reach our goals.

Fall leaves

Fall is no different. In some ways fall is the absolute best time to reset those healthy goals. The weather is cooler, most of us get a little more sleep (it’s dark by 7 p.m.), and there’s a sense that our time has value.

In Illinois the only option is to embrace fall. Let’s do it in the healthiest way possible. Try some – or all – of these healthy fall ideas.

Turn in Early. Sleep is important to our health. A number of chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are linked to sleep deprivation. Current research even suggests that people that toss and turn at night are at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s later in life.If you are sleeping less than seven or eight hours a night you may need to improve your sleep hygiene. You can find sleep hygiene tips here.

If you wake up throughout the night and feel short or breath and/or anxious you may have sleep apnea, a condition that is detrimental to your overall health. Talk to you physician about the symptoms and health risks related to sleep apnea. You doctor can provide a diagnosis and guidance to help treat this serious health condition.

Start Moving More – It is no longer 90 degrees outside. The heat are humidity are not an excuse to stay inside in the AC on your lunch hour or in the evenings after dinner. Take advantage of the cooler weather and make more time for physical activity. Find time each day to take a 10 to 15 minute walk before or after work, or on a break or lunch hour. Remember, you don’t have to spend an hour in the gym to feel and look better. Short bursts of exercise contribute to your overall health and can help you avoid putting on unwanted pounds this fall and winter.

Make Pumpkin Healthy Again – Between Starbucks and the donut shops, pumpkin has gotten a bad rap. Today’s pumpkin products are loaded with fat and sugar and should be avoided. Did you know that a Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks can have more than 400 calories and 10 teaspoons of sugar!

 

pumpkins-457716__340
Pumpkin, without the cream, sugar, and crust is a healthy food and is loaded with fiber, potassium, and vitamin C but, for some reason we’ve turned pumpkin into a once a year calorie-laden treat.This fall you can experience the awesomeness of pumpkin without the calories. Check out the 19 Health Pumpkin Recipes from Allrecipes.com here.

Cook Most (if not all) of Your Meals at Home – Cooking meals at home is the best thing you can do for your waistline and your health. People that eat out several times a week consume 150 more calories a day than people that cook and eat meals they make in their own kitchen. Those calories can add up to a weight gain of several pounds a year. You do not have to be a gourmet cook to take pleasure in making meals at home.With a little organization that includes a shopping list and a commitment to spend a few minutes each day in the kitchen, you can make healthy, lower calorie meals that you and your family will enjoy.

(Cooking is a great way to teach children about the benefits of eating a healthy diet. Let them participate in the meal planning and preparation. Even children as young as 5 years of age can help prep a meal or mix up a fresh garden salad.)

Casserole

Stay Hydrated – Since it is cooler outside you may not realize that you’re thirsty and that your body still needs to be fully hydrated to function at 100% capacity. If you’re bored with plain water you can make your own smart water by adding fruit, vegetables and herbs. My daughter – who knows me all too well – gave me a water bottle with an infuser for my birthday. The water of the day is cucumber-lime. I re-fill the bottle throughout the day and let the cucumbers and lime slices seep into the mix. It’s a great way to hydrate with flavor but without added sugar or other additives.

Infused water
The end of summer is upon us and it is a time for rejuvenation. I wish you all a healthy, happy fall.

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