10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
Has the snow and cold got you down? Cheer up: Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. From snowshoeing and swing dancing to bargain shopping, we’ve got ideas on how to defend yourself against the winter doldrums
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4. [Go On Flex Time]
While a student at SUNY New Paltz, Vicki Koenig became an instant vegetarian: She moved into a household where everyone else ate no meat, and it seemed like the thing to do. Six years later, she abdicated her vegetarian status just as abruptly: While visiting a friend, she was offered a chicken dinner that she just couldn’t resist. A little voice said, “Just try it” — and she did.
“After that I continued to eat mostly vegetarian with occasional meat,” says Koenig, now a nutritionist in New Paltz. “I began to see that my body wanted it.” Without knowing it, Koenig’s gut decision to keep her diet mostly — but not exclusively — vegetarian put her at the forefront of a dietary movement dubbed flexitarianism. Some flexitarians only occasionally succumb to a burger or steak; while others, like Koenig, eat meat and fish on a regular basis. With an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes — as well as locally raised and hormone-free beef, chicken, and fish — the flexitarian diet has helped Koenig’s clients gain energy and lose weight. Strictly vegetarian diets have long been associated with numerous health advantages, including a lower body-mass index, so it only stands to reason that going vegetarian most of the time would yield similar results.
Another argument for limiting meat: “We need less protein than we think,” says Koenig. The recommended daily allowance for protein is just .8 grams per kilogram. For a 150-pound man, that’s approximately eight ounces of chicken, say. “If you eat too much protein, you’ll have less room for fruits, vegetables, and grains.”
To get started, Koenig suggests the Web site www.meatlessmonday.com, which offers vegetarian recipes organized by meal. Join a community-supported agriculture group, or head to the farmers’ market to scope out local food sources, including beef and chicken. Some books by local authors to inspire you: Gigi’s Trattoria restaurateur Laura Pensiero’s Hudson Valley Mediterranean, which advocates plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, balanced with limited amounts of meat; and The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, one of several compilations of vegetarian recipes from Nava Atlas.