5 ways to fight winter weight gain
5 ways to fight winter weight gain

The colder months might make you want to snuggle up with your hubby and kids under the doona - but this chilly time of year can also cause you to put on weight. According to Dr Smolensky, a chronobiology expert at the University of Texas, we're hardwired to consume more food in winter, eating six to seven per cent more kilojoules than in warmer months. Here's how to keep your love handles in check when the temperature drops:

Consider which hot chocolate you drink

While a cafe hot chocolate (such as Starbucks) contains more than 2200 kilojoules, a cup of organic Green & Black cocoa powder with skimmed milk comes in at just 500kJ. If you're tempted by a bar of chocolate, remember that a small slab contains five teaspoons of sugar and around 17g of fat, whereas a slice of wholegrain bread with chocolate spread has half the sugar and a third of the fat, and tastes (almost) as yummy.

Eat earlier in the day (and turn off the TV)

Researchers have found that we eat most of the extra kilojoules during winter after 5pm, so keep an eye on portion size in the colder months. That's along with never eating in front of the TV on dark winter evenings - a recent study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion revealed an association between TV viewing and the consumption of high-calorie snacks such as chips and cakes.

Swap your brekkie

Swap a fatty morning meal for a warming winter breakfast that won't add to your body fat. Nutritionist Nicole Senior recommends exchanging a fry-up breakfast for a bowl of porridge, it's just as filling and will cut your kilojoule intake by at least 50 per cent. Both of these breakfasts are hot and will warm you up, but the fat content is significantly different.

Hit the gym

If you're looking for something to ease winter food cravings, try working out. Studies show that exercise has effects on our brain chemistry and can help beat cravings for comfort food. Exercise causes changes in the brain it gives a mood-enhancing effect, confirms Professor Margaret Morris, from the school of medical science at the University of NSW. It's a good way to combat stress and may be an alternate strategy to comfort eating.

Look after yourself

Even though you don't want to pack on the kilos during winter, it's dangerous to your health to take up a strict diet during the colder months. Experts believe it lowers the immune system and puts you at risk during the flu season. Instead, fill your plate with salmon, seafood, vegetables, fruit, whole grains and beans to boost white blood cell levels, along with reducing saturated fat, which has also been found to impair your immune system.

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