- Men's Health
- Women's Health
- Health and Wellbeing
- Consultant Q&A's
- Editor's Choice
Winter brings with it many joys, but it can be a challenging time to watch your weight. Here are some top tips to help you stay healthy.
Winter – a time of celebrations, family, friends, cosy nights in and…weight gain. While the season of jollity brings wonderful opportunities to reconnect with friends, family and colleagues, it’s also a time when many of us find it hard not to put on weight. With mince pies dotted around the office, and cold, dark evenings making it less tempting to exercise, it can be a frustrating time for those who want to watch their weight.
While some may be lucky enough to escape seasonal weight gain, surveys show an average winter weight gain of five to seven pounds, according to Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center. But there are ways you can stop this happening.
The most sure-fire way to keep your weight in check is to exercise regularly. Cold temperatures and shorter daylight hours may quash your enthusiasm for physical activity, but exercising doesn’t have to mean jogging in the cold. If you don’t like exercising outside during winter, you could join a gym, find an exercise class or start swimming. Or if you’d rather save money you can do it from the comfort of your own home – there are plenty of free online exercise videos available. You can even kit yourself out with a yoga mat, ankle weights and dumbbells if you want to set up a home gym for the winter months.
Exercise also offers a good excuse to socialise in a healthier environment – you could arrange a racquet sports session with a friend or join an outdoor bootcamp!
Plan your meals
Taking time to plan your meals can help you manage what you’re eating and ensure dinner isn’t a selection of party canapés.
In the winter months, there are numerous unhealthy obstacles to overcome – from mince pies in the office kitchen to mulled wine in the evenings and hearty Christmas meals. And then there’s January – when colleagues thwart your efforts to detox by bringing in their leftover Christmas sweets.
But you don’t have to succumb. Plan your meals and snacks so you’re less tempted by the unhealthy options. Fill up on fruits and vegetables that are high in fibre before you head to a party to stop you snacking on calorific hors d’oeuvres. Not only will this ensure you’re eating the right types of food, it also stops you from indulging in too many calories.
It’s easy to overeat in a social setting, according to Cheskin, who says: “When we eat outside the home, studies suggest that we may take in 40% more calories than we would otherwise.” Being aware of this pitfall can help you plan in advance – giving you more chance to eat healthily. And if you do fall off the wagon, try and eat extra healthily and do a bit more exercise over the following days.
Be careful of high-calorie drinks
December is often a month filled with Christmas drinks, but alcohol is empty calories with no nutritional value. Setting yourself a weekly alcohol limit can make sure you don’t indulge too much and keep your body healthy.
But alcohol isn’t the only offender. While hot drinks help keep you warm in winter, you need to be discerning in your choices. Milky, sugary and syrupy drinks can be highly calorific, so watch that tall hot chocolate with whipped cream!
Make sure to get enough nutrients
Some wonderful winter vegetables flourish in the colder months – from kale and cabbage to Brussels sprouts, parsnips, turnips, sprouting broccoli and Jerusalem artichokes. Ensuring you get a range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals will help you have a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight. If you don’t have time to cook regularly, you can make a large soup or stew and freeze it for an easy post-work meal. Lentils and other legumes are also great sources of protein and an easy base for warming stews and curries.
If you have real concerns about your weight and are struggling to manage it through diet and exercise, you can always seek help with your diet through a dietary consultation. As a last resort, you may also want to speak to your doctor about the implications of weight loss surgery.
To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337
or make an online enquiry.