Sure, fall ushers in the perfect excuse to sip calorie-laden pumpkin spice lattes. But Atlanta dietitians and wellness experts will tell you it's also a prime time to introduce healthy and delicious seasonal foods to your weekly menu. Atlanta holistic health coach Sonali Sadequee and naturopathic practitioner Melissa Bennett of Alpharetta shared some of their favorite fall foods for weight loss and healthy eating:
Sweet potatoes, ginger and other anti-inflammatory foods
Bennett practices at the The Olive Leaf, which focuses on holistic wellness solutions for such issues as metabolic and hormonal problems and nutritional imbalances. "I personally love low-inflammatory foods for weight management," she said. "I feel if we decrease inflammation in the body, weight loss will occur naturally." She uses several recipes with fall ingredients as part of the practice's SHAPE ReClaimed program. Sweet potatoes and ginger are two particularly beneficial fall foods, says Bennett. "Both are delicious, especially together in a soup!" she said. "Sweet potatoes are also a good source of B6 and C vitamins, complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene, manganese and dietary fiber."
A focus of Sadequee's work is showing clients how to integrate more plant-based, gluten-free foods into their daily lifestyles. As a Food for Life Instructor, she teaches evidenced-based nutrition for people with weight management, diabetes, heart disease and cancer prevention goals. Pomegranates are on the top of her list for fall foods that assist with health and weight control. "They have a ton of antioxidants that are crucial for fighting cancer and the seeds help keep free radicals from oxidizing," she said. Sadequee recommends the fresh fruit over the juice so you get the benefit of the seeds. "Take a handful of the seeds and drop them into a smoothie," she said. "A cup a day is enough. When they're in season I say we need to have them every day."
Sadequee also welcomes the appearance of fresh cranberries in the market in fall, saying they are a great low-calorie source of nutrition and antioxidants and encourage kidney health as well as being anti-cancerous. "Eat a handful a day when they are in season, maybe adding them to a smoothie," she said. She adds that she refers only to the fresh cranberries, not the ones that are sweet and dried.
Hardy green vegetables like kale and collards
"Those greens are loaded with vitamins C, K and A," Sadequee said.
Winter squashes including Hubbard, delicata and spaghetti
"Just one cup quick-cooked has a lot of vitamin A, which is necessary for health in general," said Sadequee. "And all the foods I mentioned, from kale to squash to cranberries, have a lot of fiber. That's a common denominator benefit of those fall foods for sure. Fiber is one of the things you need for weight loss, digestion and to move excess hormones and toxic chemicals out of your body."