Updated: Mar 2
A change of season, moving into cooler weather and shorter days can spark the urge for warmer, carbohydrate rich, fat laden foods and hibernation.
Here are 10 easy tips to avoid unwanted weight gain that you can start implementing now.
1. Cook at home
Rather than getting takeaway every night, focus on home cooking. This way you can see exactly what goes into your food, are able to make healthier choices, and control portion sizes.
2. Stay hydrated
Maintain hydration and ensure you are drinking around 2L a day to help with metabolism and keeping appetite in check. Water is something we can forget about over the cooler months as we sweat and move less, but drinking enough water is just as important in autumn and winter as it is during summer.
3. Get enough protein (and keep carbs under control)
During the cooler months we turn to comfort foods, which usually comes in the form of hot carbs (looking at you, mac and cheese). However, eating too many refined carbohydrates, combined with little exercise can result in weight gain. So maintain macronutrient balance, increase your lean protein to ensure you’re getting what you need aim for around 100-120 grams of protein source at each main meal daily. And don’t skimp on the healthy fats i.e. olive oil, nuts, and avocado aim for around 1tbsp per meal is sufficient.
4. Focus on fibre
Although fibre isn't a 'sexy' part of our diet, it's massively important for helping to keep us full and keep our bowels functioning optimally -- things we need when we're less active and craving more food during winter. Aim for at least 30 grams of fibre daily for satiety. Fibre-rich foods include fruit, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
5. Up vegetable intake
Increasing your veggie intake doesn't have to mean eating a bowl of steamed broccoli for dinner. It's about cooking a variety of veggies in different ways and combinations. Aim for half a plate of vegetables at each meal.
6. Practice mindful eating.
While it is time efficient, eating in a rush can cause digestion issues, as well as feeling unsatisfied or hungry after a meal. Mindful eating not only allows you to enjoy your food and all the flavours, but also helps you digest food properly and tune into your hunger signals. This, in turn, can help weight gain and overeating.
7. Be prepared.
Be prepared. Prep breakfast the night before if you know you have an early start, make enough salad for lunch when cooking dinner, and have healthy snacks handy -- such as raw fruit and nut balls, natural yoghurt, fresh fruit, seed and nut mixes, homemade dips and vegetables.
8. Use healthy alternatives to satisfy cravings.
We all love comfort foods like chocolate, baked desserts and creamy pasta, and there's a way to make all these healthier.
If you feel like crumbed fish, use an almond meal or coconut flake crumb. If you want a creamy curry, use thick yoghurt. If you want a warming dessert, use fruit as the base -- for example, poached pear or roasted apple. We have some amazing healthy desert options at Key Nutrition for you to check out. https://www.keynutrition.co.nz/snacksandsweets
9. Be consistent.
Although we wish otherwise, it's unsustainable to vow to never indulge in treats or comforting junk foods, or to exercise seven days a week. Instead, be consistent with the above tips and treat yourself in moderation. Work with the 3/21 rule. If you eat three meals a day over a week= 21 meals. Think of your week like: allow yourself to have 3 meals out of 21 to be whatever you like, Be realistic with what you are doing and make sure it's manageable and enjoyable.
10 And finally - GET SOME SUN!
Low serum vitamin D has been found to be associated with not only weight gain and obesity but diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases including hypertension. Ensuring you keep your levels up over the cooler months is extremely important
Prioritise some outdoor movement every day where your skin can have sun exposure for around 15-30minutes. I recommend getting your blood levels checked to ensure you have optimal (not just sufficient) amounts of this essential vitamin.
Jess Wharton, Registered Nutritionist