Worried about gaining weight this winter and desperately want to avoid it? It is so easy to give in to the cold weather and become part of the couch eating comfort food and watching TV. So whats the problem here? Your lack of activity is burning very few calories and your cravings for warm, comforting foods and drinks is putting you in a positive energy balance which just means you are going to be gaining weight this winter.
The trick is to prevent this from happening. Once you are in this habit it’s so hard to get out of it. Here are a few tips to prevent your self from falling into this rut.
1) Keep a Regular Exercise Routing or Start One.
Getting into a routine of being active will make it that little bit harder to just sit on the couch. If you have a planned routine then you are more likely to follow it. I like to recommend being active in the mornings just because it means that you can relax for the rest of the day. Being active in the morning may also influence other healthy habits throughout the day. But if waking up early in the dark is too hard for you then stick to afternoons. We are all different and some people perform better in the afternoons then in the mornings.
2) Avoid Comfort Foods That Are Energy Dense and High In Sugar.
One of the biggest causes of weight gain is the consumption of energy dense foods. By eating foods that have a higher caloric content you are essentially eating less for more. For a small amount of energy dense foods you are getting the same amount of calories as if you were eating a whole meal. For instance, one Big Mac Burger is the equivalent to 6 slices of bread. One chocolate bar is the equivalent of 3 and a half slices of bread.
Therefore, avoid foods and drinks high in sugar (sweets, chocolates, cakes, pastries, biscuits, fizzy drinks, milo, hot chocolate, horlicks, etc. ). As well as high fat processed food (take away foods, crisps, slup chips, deep fried food, oily curries, vetkoek, etc. ). Always choose real foods that are not processed.
3) Avoid Eating In Front Of the TV
Eating while distracted can lead to over indulgence. You distract your self from your food and what you should be eating so it is easy to miss your body satiety signs and carry on eating. Rather eat your meals at the table with no distractions and concentrate on what you are eating. Keep cellphones and tablets away from the table as these are also easy distractions.
4) Watch The Red Wine or Whiskey
There is nothing more warming then a glass of red wine or whiskey while curled up in a blanket in front of the fire. If you are trying to lose weight I would say try not to drink alcohol on a daily basis and rather limit it to once or twice per week. Otherwise try only stick to one serving for females or 2 servings for males (180 ml glass of wine or one tot of spirits = one serving). Avoid high sugar mixes and try choose a dry wine rather then a sweet wine
5) Watch Your Portions
One thing we tend to do when comfort eating is dish up way too much, and it is often too much carbohydrates that we are putting on our plate. Carbohydrates stimulate serotonin release which contributes to the feeling of happiness so we are more likely to over eat in carbs.
When monitoring portions use the size of your fists as a guide. Your carbohydrate portion should be the size of your fist, protein portions should be the size of the palm of your hand, fat the size of the tip of your thumb, and the rest of the plate should be vegetables.
6) Include High Fibre Whole Grains
High fibre foods help keep you fuller for longer so help prevent you from over eating. Fibre also has numerous other health benefits with recent meta analysis studies saying that whole grains can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/05/24/ajcn.115.122432.abstract
Good high fibre options to include are legumes, which are your chickpeas, beans, lentils & split peas. As well as whole wheat product, bran, rolled oats, nuts & seeds, fruits & vegetables. Try to include a high fibre option with every meal.
7) Avoid Boredom Eating.
Surprisingly enough sitting and watching TV can be boring. When you spending the day on the couch you are more likely to go to the fridge and nibble because you are bored. Avoid doing this by allowing small snacks in between meals (3 main meals & 2 snacks) and only keep healthy snack options in the house. The less tempting junk food there is around the more likely you are to snack on healthy foods.
Good snack to keep in the house include fruits, carrots, reduced fat hummus, ryvita crackers, lean biltong, plain low fat yoghurt, low fat cottage cheese, popcorn kernels, raw nuts & seeds.