Keeping extra pounds off during the gloomy fall season

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Reported by Kristyn Anthony

As the cold moves in and the stress of the end of the semester looms, Langara students are planning for ways to stay healthy over the winter.

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Patty Javier Gomez, a registered health nutritionist and writer. Submitted photo.

According to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, people start to put on weight in the late fall, eating comfort foods and staying at home more often.

“With the seasons changing, we naturally want to build that extra layer of fat to essentially keep us warm,” said registered holistic nutritionist Patty Javier Gomez.

Avoiding certain foods key to battling school woes

Choosing meals with fresh produce, coupled with regular exercise, are the best means for fighting the winter blahs and stress of exams.

Gomez said it’s common to crave salt and carbohydrates when experiencing high stress but choosing omega-3’s or nuts and seeds over highly processed snacks, is key.

“Stress affects us on a biological level,” Gomez said. “If you’re stressed when you’re actually eating, your digestive system starts to malfunction and you’re not actually breaking down all the nutrients you need. In turn, that suppresses your immune system.”

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Ali Afshar, a kinesiology student at Langara College. Afshar said a proper diet and regular exercise are imperative to a successful semester. Photo: Kristyn Anthony

Ali Afshar, a kinesiology student at Langara, credits his program with helping him work out the challenges of eating a well balanced diet. With the absence of sun this time of year Afshar also supplements with vitamins to maintain energy and focus.

“I try to adopt a plan that will help me overall,” he said. “It’s really important to cook for yourself. First semester here I tried to eat out a lot. It’s not healthy, it’s expensive and it doesn’t make sense.”

Ways to avoid comfort food season weight at home

Psychology student Comfort Avavio said she craves “sugary” foods in the winter. To offset those choices, she said she opts for a more fun, at-home approach to working out.

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Students bulk up and take cover as the cold, rainy and comfort food craving season begins. Photo: Kristyn Anthony

“Me and [traditional] exercise don’t mix,” she laughed. “But, the Nintendo Wii — I exercise a lot with that.”

Gomez encourages students to buy in bulk. Freezing items and batch cooking soups or stews are good shortcuts to cheap, healthy meals, particularly for those on the go. She warns against starchy, comfort foods often on sale this time of year.

Read our related web exclusive story on healthy comfort food alternatives here

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