There are many things to love about winter, but the extra few kilos that sneak up on us isn’t one them. There’s just something about the winter season that wreaks havoc on our waistline and health goals.
It might seem all well and good while we hide under layers of clothes, but in 3 month’s it’s back to shorts and summer dresses and, by the time we remember our health goals, we’ve already developed a few unhealthy habits that are tricky to break.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve put together a list of winter weight gain suspects and some ways you can fight back to keep your summer body under your Winter wardrobe and your health in tip-top shape.
SUSPECT #1 COMFORT FOOD
Winter weather makes us want to reach for warm, comforting food and the thought of a healthy salad when you’re feeling chilly? Not tempting.
1. If you want comfort food, have some! Who says healthy food can’t be just as hearty and warming? Find some healthy recipes that’ll hit the spot just as well, for example, check out the recipe section on our website or in our Cook Books.
2. It’s much harder to fight the craving for comfort food when you’re feeling hungry. Keep your hunger under control by planning your meals – and sticking to the plan. Keep an emergency healthy hunger-buster with you at all times and plan a weekly healthy treat – something that feels indulgent and will stop you feeling deprived, without sabotaging your goals.
3. Use seasonal foods to your advantage. Avocados, now in season, are a great source of healthy fats that’ll keep you feeling full. Also use the range of different seasonal veggies to make your food exciting again, for example, some Brussels sprouts stir fried in lemon juice and balsamic vinegar are a delicious wintery side dish.
SUSPECT #2 DRINKING YOUR CALORIES
There’s nothing better than a cup of hot chocolate in bed on a cold Winter morning or a few cups of coffee to keep us warm throughout the chilly days. The problem is that the more we have of these, the more we risk having more sugar than we mean to.
1. Go homemade. Premixed hot chocolate powders in the shops often contain a whole lot of sugar – so why not make your own? You’ll know exactly what’s going into your body and get a chance to customise it for your tastes. If you love to experiment with flavours, try mixing cinnamon, vanilla essence, or even mint with cacao powder, water, and sweetener to make a delicious, personalised healthy hot chocolate.
2. Be conscious of how you’re sweetening your beverages. If you have a teaspoon of sugar in your tea or coffee, and in Winter you find yourself having multiple cups of these, the amount of sugar you’re getting each day adds up. Try go for sweeteners instead.
SUSPECT #3 SKIPPING THE WATER
Water is the best friend of health and weight loss but on cold days it really doesn’t feel like ours. Skipping your daily 2 litres of water doesn’t do any favours for your waist or overall health, and the fact that we feel less thirsty in winter makes dehydration harder to spot.
1. Get your water in different ways. Go for veggies with a high water content like tomatoes, have warming broth-type soups, and try a variety of herbal teas.
2. Use what’s available to make things easier. Try adding water infusion drops or a slice of in-season fruit like lemon or apple to your water to give it a new flavour and make it more appealing.
3. Get into the routine of starting your day with a glass of warm water with a lemon wedge. It’ll warm you up after getting out of bed, help you get closer to your 2 litres of water, and make you feel less bloated so you can start the day feeling fresh.
SUSPECT #4 WINTER FASHION
As fun as it is to experiment with different combos of boots, scarves and beanies, Winter fashion sometimes doesn’t do us any favours. Big Winter coats and jerseys hide any changes happening to our bodies – both the good and the bad!
1. Decide on your goals. Do you want to lose weight or simply maintain your weight? Do you want to try to eat healthy foods or are you trying to stick to an exercise plan? Once you’ve decided what goal you’re going after, prepare a plan to help you get there.
2. Keep track. No matter what your goal is, find a way to track it. Schedule a weekly weigh in, keep a food diary or an exercise calendar – this way you’ll know what’s going on with you before you notice things like your jeans getting a bit tighter.
3. Celebrate the wins. Not only do Winter clothes hide it if we’re putting on a bit of weight, they also hide it if we’re losing some too! If you’re keeping track and see that you have made progress towards your goal, celebrate it and harness the motivation to help you keep going.
SUSPECT #5 DARK, COLD WINTER DAYS
Incidental activity, or keeping moving during the course of our day-to-day life, is really important for overall health, but when it’s cold outside we often prefer to stay snuggled up instead of moving about. This is not helped by the fact that fewer daylight hours makes us feel that there’s less time in the day for exercising.
1. Find ways to move about while staying warm, in fact, use movement to stay warm. Make an effort to implement habits like taking the stairs instead of the lift. If you have an exercise routine, Winter also provides a great chance to get out of your exercise rut by forcing you to try a new, indoor exercise.
2. Embrace them. It’s well known that the darker our surroundings, the better we sleep. It’s also well known that sleeping well is essential for good health. Use the long Winter nights as an opportunity for an earlier bed time and getting a good night’s sleep – and all the benefits that come along with it.