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Halloween is just a few days away (hello, sugar!), followed by a whirlwind few weeks of turkey and gravy, eggnog and holiday foods galore. Pair that with the imminent cold weather and a decreasing motivation to hit the gym, and it seems like we're already in hibernation mode.
Unfortunately, most of us will find ourselves slacking on our wellness goals this time of year -- and this weekend's daylight savings time does not help our cause. To help close out the final months of 2019, we caught up with Dr. Rachel Cheatham, nutritionist, professor and founder of the Foodscape Group, to learn more about how to keep our health in check and what to stock up on this winter.
"The changing seasons, combined with the stress of the holidays can impact our eating, which means an unfortunate downgrade in good nutrition for many," she told AOL Lifestyle. "Rather than waiting until January to once again resolve to 'eat healthy' this year, why not develop a mindset now that supports health and wellness no matter the season? Couple that mindset with some strategic choices on daily routines and supportive products to make it happen, and this can be the season to thrive, not just survive."
Here's what she suggests:
On what she's sipping on this winter
"Especially as we move into colder temps and drier air, it’s important to stay hydrated. I find a hot cup of tea is the perfect way to carve out a purposeful pause. Plus, with an option like TeaWell, you’ve got built-in seasonal wellness support thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like Green Rooibos, Elderberry, Dandelion Root and Panax Ginseng. Since this tea is a dietary supplement, one bag daily is just right. My favorite is the Organic Turmeric Spice. It's like a sip of pure autumn."
Her guilty pleasure
"Why is a nutritionist telling you to eat chocolate during the chocolate-filled holidays? Well, I’m a fan of quality over quantity, which is why I pick the Orange Dream bar from Hu made with 100% pure orange oil and organic house-ground cacao for a real treat. The moral of this story: Eat dessert during the holiday season if you like but avoid the mindless mass consumption of random sweet treats. Make. It. Count."
Shop: Hu Vegan Chocolate Bars, $25 for a 4-pack
On her fitness must-have
"I can’t say I wake up every single morning absolutely loving my daily yoga practice, but I can say that it’s the single best way I’ve found to tap into a mental steadiness and body awareness that carries me through the rest of day. Grab a mat, like those from Manduka (they even offer extra-long ones for tall people like me) and bust out a few up and down dogs. The more this becomes a daily commitment, the more effective it will be in the long run."
On her freezer aisle favorite
"I fantasize about having fresh produce just growing wild in my backyard. The reality is that I live in the middle of an urban area with a harsh winter, so I buy frozen fruit by the bagful instead. The good news is when fruit is picked and frozen closer to the place and time of harvest, all of those powerful plant-based nutrients are locked in better anyhow. A go-to brand for me is 365 Everyday Organic – I love the Berry Blend."
On the versatility of oat milk
"The number of non-dairy milks on the market these days is rather overwhelming. One of my personal faves is Oatly. I like the original, unsweetened version best. Pair it with frozen fruit, add some protein powder if you like, blend on high and you’ve got a phytonutrient-packed smoothie in minutes. I find this kind of no-sugar-added fruity treat helps ward off any sweet cravings too."
Her favorite kitchen gadget
"Speaking of blending on high…a powerful blender like Ninja is not only a must for smoothie making, but also great for hot soups. I can’t think of a better way to amp up all those powerful plant-based compounds than soup making. From butternut squash to cauliflower to white bean and fennel, 'tis the season to soup it up!"
On her go-to superfood
"Truth be told, I buy canned pumpkin all year 'round, not just during the holidays. Packed full of beta-carotene and fiber, it surely is an original superfood. Use it for soups, baking or eat it by the can. No, seriously, I have been known to eat scoops of pumpkin straight from the can paired with a homemade muffin in an 'a la mode' fashion. I’m fond of Farmer’s Market thanks to it being organic and in a lined can."
On her favorite meal-prep subscription box
"One of the most surefire ways to ensure better nutrition, especially when the holidays interfere with good intentions, is to eat homemade meals made from whole food ingredients. And while I happen to enjoy cooking, I know not everyone has the time or desire to cook at home. Consider a meal kit like those from Amazon to reduce the thinking and prep time. Moroccan shakshuka is a great dish to try."