Wednesday, 29 May 2019 / Topics:
The cool weather brings with it a whole lot of changes. Barbecues turn to casseroles, swimsuits turn to tracksuits, nights out turn to nights in and often our motivation to maintain a healthy eating and exercise pattern reduces. Essentially, in the winter months we tend to eat more and move less and as a result we often tend to gain a couple of kilos. One or two kilograms might not sound like a lot but it can add up over the years.
Whilst winter weight gain is common, it is avoidable. Here are some simple tips to help you stay healthy this winter.
Fruits and vegetables
We all know we’re supposed to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day but most of us just don’t do it, especially in winter. When the cooler weather hits, our fruit and vegetable intakes tend to decrease as we become much less likely to reach for a refreshing piece of fruit or a fresh salad. However, in winter it’s especially important to get your 2 and 5 in to ensure you’re getting the nutrients needed to keep your immune system healthy and to prevent that pesky winter weight gain. From beetroot to Brussel's sprouts and passionfruit to pears, winter brings with it an array of amazing produce. So, use the seasonal offerings to boost your fruit and vegetable intake.
Getting your vegetables in doesn’t have to mean boring old steamed carrots and cauliflower. Think roast veggies, vegetable and legume soups, stews and casseroles packed with extra veg or a warm winter salad. Winter fruits, such as oranges, mandarins and kiwi fruit, are a perfect mid-meal snack but also add a fresh and sweet element to salads. Breakfast fruit doesn’t just have to be added to cereal, try baked apples, poached pears or stewed rhubarb with yoghurt or ricotta on fruit toast. Prepare your fruit on the weekend and you’ll be sorted for the week!
Exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Whilst getting up for our morning run or 6am spin class may be more of a struggle when the mornings are dark and stormy, the cold wintery weather doesn’t mean we have to give up working out completely. After all, what better way to warm up than to get your body moving?
Keep exercise part of your winter routine by setting a clear Spring goal, perhaps a fun run? Too cold to leave the house? Try an at-home workout, every second Instagram personality has a workout video! Raining outside? Take your workout to the gym. No motivation to exercise in the morning? Move your workout to the afternoon.
If exercising to improve your health isn’t motivating for you, change your reason for exercising. Exercise because it helps clear your head, is an opportunity to socialise or because it gives you that feel good feeling. Find your reason to exercise and you will be more motivated to do it!
Staying hydrated in winter is just as important as summer. The benefits of drinking water are countless. Not only does it boost the immune system, aid digestion, improve concentration and help to keep your skin moisturised, it can also assist with weight management. However, although our fluid requirements remain the same across the year, our water intake tends to decrease in the cooler months mainly because we don’t feel as thirsty. In winter, an ice-cold glass of water might not be as enticing as it is on a hot summer day but there are other ways to keep your fluids up. For example, herbal teas, such as peppermint, chamomile or lemon and ginger, can help to hydrate while also warming you up from the inside out. It’s also much easier to remember to drink water when you have it on hand so carry a water bottle with you, keep a water jug at your desk or try downloading a ‘water reminder app’ and keep aiming for at least two litres a day.
On a cold winter night there’s nothing more tempting that cozying up on the couch with a warm cup of tea and a sweet treat. Have you ever brought the whole block of chocolate to the couch and despite telling yourself you’re only going to have a few squares, you become engrossed in the newest Netflix series and the whole block has suddenly disappeared? We’ve all done it!
Mindless snacking can be one of the biggest culprits of weight gain. The solution is to portion your snack before you get to the couch. Choose the amount you intend to eat and put it on a plate. Chances are you will be so comfortable on the couch you won’t want to get up for more!
When the mornings are dark and cold, the snooze button becomes your best friend as it means you to stay under the warm covers that little bit longer. However, this makes the already stressful morning routine a whole lot more hectic! This often means you have to sacrifice something to ensure you get out of the house on time and often breakfast is the victim. Whilst the claims of breakfast being the most important meal of the day are a little far-fetched (we think all meals are equally important), a healthy breakfast is definitely a great way to start your day on the right foot. Starting the day with a healthy, satisfying breakfast can improve energy, productivity and concentration throughout the morning and can also help to reduce those 4pm and late-night food cravings and help prevent overeating later in the day.
Choose a balanced breakfast that includes some grains or cereals, protein foods such as eggs or low-fat dairy, and a fruit or vegetable. Examples of a good quick breakfast include porridge with nuts and fruit, yoghurt with muesli and fruit or toast with peanut butter and banana. If savoury is more your style try wholegrain toast with avocado and a pre-boiled egg, rye toast with smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber or an English muffin with cottage cheese and tomato.
This winter, maintain your healthy habits, set a realistic food and exercise goal and you'll hit the ground running when the spring sun begins to appear from behind the winter clouds.