Baby it's cold outside and that means for a lot of us, we want to get all Hygge and start snuggling up with our cups of hot chocolate, marsh-mallows, cosy log fires and saturday night TV. Whilst this is all good for our stress levels, it's also the time of year a lot of us can easily put weight on.
If you want to start the new year ahead of the game, then read on to see my tips on avoiding any winter weight gain.
Research shows that some of us can put on up to 5lbs over the festive period. It may not sound a lot but when you think half a stone is just 2lbs extra, it soon makes it more real. In the time I have worked as a weight management counsellor, I have noticed some weight loss trends... Slimmers usually try to lose weight in October/November ready for Christmas parties etc and come December (usually from 10th December), they start to get the 'start in the new year mentality' and here's why.
So at the start of this post I mentioned the feeling all hygge - you know that cosy feeling where you're grateful you're indoors all snug as a bug and all that jazz. Well... that cozy hygge feeling contributes to our winter weight gain more than you know.
Hot chocolate in a coffee shop whilst doing the Christmas shopping? oh go on then (235 calories). Whilst you're at it, how about a cheeky mince pie? 'Don't mind if I do' (that's another 289 calories).
Lets not even get started on the Christmas Chocolate tubs that we all buy in December under the pretence they won't get opened until Christmas Eve - yeah we all know you'll buy another tub as they'll get opened one rainy weekend when you want to feel all cosy.
It's all of these behaviours that lead to this Winter weight gain (and I haven't even got to the Christmas day feast yet).
Lets not even think about the winter warming meals we usually have. It's proven that in colder months, our portion sizes get bigger. Plus we have a tendency to want to eat stodgy, filling foods which are usually coated in carbohydrates.
Avoiding the winter weight gain
Get Active It may be cold out there but there's nothing nicer than a long winter walk on a cold day. Imagine this... the sun is shining, you put your winter coat and boots on and just go off and enjoy the weather. Even a shorter more brisk walk can do wonders for your health. It can improve circulation, help clear your head and offers stress relief.
If you really aren't a cold weather kinda gal then don't worry. There's plenty you can do around the home to help burn off some of those mince pies.
Put on an exercise DVD and make sure you find time every other day to complete exercises. I personally love my Youtube videos and make sure I exercise for just 20 minutes every other day at home when i wake up.
Stock up Make sure you stock your cupboards with tinned foods such as tomatoes, tinned beans and lentils, pastas. Every winter we personally start cooking our homemade soups. Full of different kind of pulses, heaps of veg and potatoes to bulk it up. It can last for up to a week in our house with us topping it up when it starts to run low. It's filling, full of the good stuff (vits and minerals) as it cooks in the vegetable juices.
Healthy food swaps...
Avoid those dips - they are creamy, taste nice but they're so full of fat and calories. Plus they don't fill you up so you usually have a carb and calorie laden piece of bread to go with them.
It's tempting to have a roast dinner on the weekends but they're full of calories. Try having baked potatoes with your dinner instead of roast potatoes.
When you do go out to your coffee shop ask yourself if your hot chocolate really needs those marsh-mallows and extra whipped cream? they're just empty calories that you won't want later in the day.
Don't do the Christmas food shop too early
All that food in the house is far too tempting. I usually go out late one night (when I know it's less busy in the supermarkets) and I usually do my Christmas food shop about 4 days before Christmas. I also make a list before I go so I stick to my list without deviation and the temptation to buy lots of extras (which usually consist of sweets and nibbles).
Leave something on your plate rule.
How many of us as children were told to eat everything on our plate? now as adults we usually have a mentality of 'must eat everything even if i'm stuffed silly'. Our bodies and belts are groaning for us to stop yet our brain is telling us we must carry on. Silly isn't it? Seeing as our portion sizes get bigger in the colder months, so does our bellies as all of that extra food has to go somewhere. Try and experiment where you purposely leave something on your plate. Over time you'll naturally give yourself permission to leave that something on your plate without feeling guilty about it.
our thinking around christmas is way too crooked...
Remember... Christmas is only 1 day! So why on earth do we drag it out for about 2 weeks (or until the children go back to school)? On Christmas day itself, the average person eats about 3000 calories. That's nearly enough calories to put on 1lb. This mentality we have (and yes i'm guilty of it too) is so irrational. Some slimmers in the past have actually said to me they use Christmas as an excuse to eat what they want without caring and then feel guilty when they get back to normal in January. This is the dieting cycle that so many of us experience every year and links in nicely with new years resolutions.
Wouldn't it be an amazing feeling if you got on the scales come the new year and found you haven't put any weight on over the Christmas period?
I'd really love to hear your tips on avoiding winter weight gain. Please leave any in the comments section.
Alleyne is a qualified weight management counsellor, author and columnist.
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