There are easy ways to combat winter weight gain, says Patricia Flokis. There’s a chill in the air. Suddenly, you’re skipping your morning workout and your carb cravings are growing. It’s tempting just to throw on your stretchy pants and accept that a few extra winter kilos are coming your way – again. But weight gain doesn’t always need to accompany cold weather. Here’s what you need to know to keep your weight stable this winter.
Don’t confuse thirst with hunger
Dehydration doesn’t seem a likely winter culprit, but central heating, wearing heavier clothes, and eating more dry or cooked food, rather than fresh fruit and salads, can make it easy for us to think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty. “If nothing you eat seems to satisfy you, or if you’ve eaten and are feeling hungry again an hour later, then it’s more likely you’re thirsty, not hungry,” says Gilbert. “Drink a glass of water, wait 10 minutes, and see if you’re still feeling peckish or not.”
Additionally, if you’re drinking less water because you don’t want a cold drink in winter, increase your fluid intake with herbal teas or low-kilojoule, high-fibre soups and broths. “The best guide to fluid intake is to take a look at your urine,” says McMillan. “If it’s pale-coloured, you’re drinking enough”
Combat winter weight gain by remembering to eat healthy
“I always tell people to look for warm, comforting food in winter, but don’t throw out healthy eating,” says Gilbert. The trick is to tweak what you normally eat rather than reach for high-fat, high-Gl carbs. For instance, swap cold cereal for porridge made with low-fat milk, salads for steamed vegies, or a piece of fresh fruit for a stewed apple. For dinner, use the same portion and cuts of lean meat you’d usually barbecue in a casserole.
Winter is also the perfect time to use spices to heat up our tastebuds. Spices high in antioxidants, such as cinnamon, paprika, turmeric and cumin, are all good choices. Make ground cayenne pepper a pantry staple. Research from the US’s Purdue University found that consuming cayenne red pepper “can help manage appetite and burn more calories after a meal, especially for those who do not consume the spice regularly”, says study leader Richard Mattes.
3 more ways to stop winter weight gain
Maintain your health. Being prone to colds and flus will make it harder to keep your eating and exercise plans on track.
Seek sunlight. Levels of serotonin, a brain chemical which helps boost mood and curb appetite, drop in winter, which can lead us to feel gloomy. A lunchtime walk in the sunshine or a little time-out next to a bright window will help to ensure you’re not looking at high-fat or highsugar foods to relieve a winter energy dip.
See healthy food first. You’re three times more likely to eat what you’ve stocked in the front of your fridge or cupboard, a study from New York’s Cornell University found.
Read part one of how to stop winter weight gain here.