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Hart Beat

I'm caving into my winter cravings

I think January is a dumb time to go on a diet. It's too cold to go outside to exercise, aside from an occasional snow shoveling expedition to make a path for my cats to get around the yard.

To tell the truth all I really want to do is sit in my big old chair, watch television and eat all my favorite calorie-rich comfort foods.

I don't know about you, but eating keeps me feeling warm when it's nasty out. I firmly believe in padding myself in the winter with more than generous layers of woolen clothing. I like hot cocoa, bags of salty popcorn with M&Ms, cracker-filled bowls of homemade stew with big hunks of beef, potatoes and carrots, onions and the occasional green bean.

It's not like I'm actually all that hungry when I hunker down with my favorite treats. I just seem to crave certain types of foods in the winter, especially on days like today - cold, gray and gloomy.

I do try to resist my urge to grab the biggest Snickers bar at the grocery store or largest can of cashews I can find when my winter cravings hit.

Yet, it seems every one I know is on a diet this month, or going on a diet or thinking about being on a diet. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is issuing decrees from the glossy covers of women's magazines trying to shame me into dropping five, 10, 15, or better yet 20 pounds by Valentine's Day.

It's not that it wouldn't be nice to lose a few pounds, slip into a smaller-sized pair of jeans and wear tighter scooped-necked sweaters. Of course it would be nice. However, if I'm wearing a scoop-necked anything this time of year, you can bet it's over the top of a turtle-neck sweater.

I simply don't believe that dieting in winter is realistic. My body is genetically triggered to pack on surplus pounds in winter to help keep me warm. I'm convinced my body came equipped with an eating trigger left over from the days of my primitive ancestors, who struggled to deal with feast or famine on a seasonal basis. I just can't conceive of eating raw carrots while it's freezing outside - in the summer time maybe, with ranch dressing - but definitely not in the winter.

I'm not the only one who thinks our bodies are designed to eat more in the winter. I recently read a dieting article that reported while we're programmed to eat more during colder months, there are ways we can fight winter cravings.

That's nice, but I don't want to fight off my cravings. I want to relish my winter food pleasures.

I want to eat mass quantities of hearty soups, dozens of hot homemade biscuits followed by several helpings of pasta, rice or potatoes smothered in creamy, thick meat-flavored gravy.

Yeah, yeah, I know that isn't exactly the politically correct Atkins diet mantra. It's insane to blow out an artery on foods high in fat, sugar and carbohydrates. But I sure wannta.

I just don't see how can I can cope with eating cardboard-tasting diet food when all I really want to do is eat a huge bowl of creamy, fattening potatoes and gravy with lots of toast?

Still, I suppose I better resolve to put a lid on my food cravings. I should take the advice of author Dr. Cynthia Las, who claims my urges to eat will pass if I focus on some other form of activity.

She suggests meditation, focusing upon something other than a triple layer slice of "death by chocolate" cake with praline ice cream and a big glass of milk. Mmm.

Oops. Not that kind of meditating. I need to find something to distract me until the food craving goes away, although I can't image what that might be.

Exercise, that last bastion of activity, seems to be my only salvation. Guess I'll walk to the lunch break room and get a big glass of water to trick my brain into thinking I'm caving into my urges. I just hope there isn't a box of honey glazed doughnuts in there or I'm doomed.

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