As the seasons begin to change and the weather gets colder, we all have a tendency to hibernate – become less active and eat more.

How can we maintain our weight during this time? The secret – moderation and balance.

Trying to lose weight during the winter months may be self-defeating. Be realistic. Forget the all-or-nothing mindset.

Depriving yourself of special foods will only make you feel guilty when you do enjoy them; so take the hunger off before a party by eating a small, low-calorie snack. On party days, eat small low-calorie meals throughout the day. This will help to keep energy intake to a minimum. If you are taking food to a party, bring fruit or raw vegetables with a low-calorie dip such as a low-fat cottage-cheese dip. Physical activity is a good way to burn calories, especially if you are going out to a party. There is less guilt when enjoying party favorites knowing that you exercised earlier in the day. When choosing food at a party, look for the lower-calorie foods and ask for sparkling water with a lime twist instead of an alcoholic beverage.

The importance of regular activity becomes more vital as the winter approaches with decreasing daylight and temperature. It’s easy to not do something and the time that had previously been spent outside, is now spent snacking inside. Fitness centers on post offer indoor activities for you to remain active. If you live off post, you can walk inside the malls before they open. Try for a goal of 10,000 steps per day and/or 30 minutes of activity per day.

Healthy eating and exercise should involve the whole family, so plan activities the entire family can enjoy together. Avoid eating out on a regular basis, and when you do eat out, share meals and avoid restaurants that only offer fried food. Cooking nutritious, well-balanced meals at home will not only be healthier for you, but will save you money.

Visit www.mypyramid.gov for ideas on healthy meals.