How to Avoid Winter Weight Gain

Written by Victoria Laios (APD)

Do you find it difficult to get motivated in the colder months?  Are you more likely to overindulge in those comfort foods? If so, these are quite normal behaviours. Winter weight gain is very common – we often don’t realise those extra 2 – 3 kilos gained on the scale. Perhaps we aren’t as aware of what we eat during this period – generally we tend to go for heavier meals, which provide us that extra warmth and satisfaction.

So if winter is a worry for you, here are my top “five” tips on how to prevent this from happening:

Continue being active

Due to the cold and dark winter days, many people are less inspired to go outside and follow their exercise routine. However, it is important to stay active during the cold period – don’t let winter deter you. 

If you really struggle with the weather, my advice would be to consider indoor activities – going to the gym, exercise classes and playing social team sports (e.g. netball, basketball and soccer). Another tip could also be to move your exercise sessions from the morning to evening.

Bulking up meals with vegetables

Winter is characterised as being the cold and flu season – our immune system needs to be fully functioning, in order to fight off illness and infections. What a better way to do this by bulking up your meals with vegetables – you can add them to casseroles, soups, stir fries or rice and pasta dishes. They are also a great accompaniment to meat based dishes.

Vegetables provide a great source of dietary fibre and Vitamin C – some vegetables high in Vitamin C include capsicum and broccoli [1]. Beans are another great addition to meals because they contain high levels of protein and zinc [1]. These nutrients are essential, as they boost our immune system and keep us healthy [1].

My favourite winter warmer are nutrient rich soups – they are easy to make, require minimal preparation time and can be stored/reheated in advance.  Try this Pumpkin Soup recipe  to tantalise your tastebuds.

Low GI and high fibre foods

Low GI and high fibre foods are really important to eat during winter – they keep you fuller for longer and help to offset those cravings for comfort foods. A good tip is to include these foods at all your main meals. Some great examples include:

  • Wholegrain breads and cereals (e.g. porridge)
  • Lentil/bean casseroles or soups
  • Pasta dishes
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Fruit as a snack (e.g. apple, banana, orange)
Indulge your cravings

I am a huge advocator for having treat foods in “moderation”. Don’t deprive your body of what you want to eat. Avoid restricting or banning your favourite foods – this can intensify the cravings and lead to overeating. Instead, it is important to be mindful of how you eat and pay more attention to your hunger and fullness cues. If chocolate is one of your addictions, my advice would be to eat a couple of times a week rather than every day.

Getting adequate sleep

Many Australians don’t get enough sleep. However, it is really important to get around 6 – 8 hours of sleep each day – we need to properly rest our bodies during the cold and flu season. Having adequate sleep keeps our concentration levels sharp and ensures that we are more productive throughout the day. In fact, sleeping enables our metabolism to work better and assists with weight management.

Hopefully I have inspired you all to take on the winter blues. For more information on weight management and staying healthy during winter, our Accredited Practising Dietitians’ at Eat for Wellness are able to provide tailored advice.