Research shows that most of us could gain around 1lb during the winter months. That may not sound like much but, over a decade, it can add up.

Why do people put on weight in winter?

The two main reasons that people put on weight in winter are:

Not enough physical activity

Cold weather and shorter days can make it harder to find the motivation to exercise outdoors.

If you are also consuming the same amount of calories, or perhaps even more with heavier, warming winter food, this can lead to weight gain.

Christmas excess

Then, of course, there are the annual December festivities, such as work Christmas parties and family get-togethers.

 

So, what’s the solution? Here are five simple ways to avoid winter weight gain.

Get active in winter

When the temperature drops, it’s easy to give up on being active outdoors. In winter, we might do fewer calorie-burning outdoor activities, such as cycling, short walks and gardening.

Cold weather doesn’t mean you have to abandon physical activity completely. Instead, try to fit in what you can, and think about indoor activities, too.

For example:

  • Even a short, brisk walk can make you feel warmer. It will also help boost your circulation.
  • Put on some warm clothes and jog around the neighborhood.
  • If you’d rather stay at home, then buy or download some dance or workout DVDs.
  • Walk up the stairs at work rather than using the lift.
  • Try indoor classes, such as yoga, Pilates, aerobics and spinning.

Stock your kitchen cupboards

Make it easier to prepare a healthy meal by keeping your cupboard stocked with healthy staples. You’ll save money and help avoid the temptation to order a high-calorie takeaway.

Healthy store-cupboard staples include:

  • cans of tomatoes
  • spices and dried herbs

And don’t forget your freezer. Try these tips:

  • Frozen fruit and vegetables are often cheaper, and you can use just what you need and leave the rest in the freezer.
  • Batch cook meals such as stews, casseroles and curries, then freeze them ready to defrost when you want a quick and easy meal.
  • Bread freezes well, so keep some handy to serve with a healthy vegetable soup.

Watch out for high-calorie drinks 

Hot drinks in winter can help you keep warm, but remember that some are high in calories.

Putting syrups and whipped cream in drinks adds extra calories and free sugars. Takeaway coffees and hot chocolate can be high in calories, free sugars and saturated fat.

An average medium café mocha from a high-street café chain can contain around 360 calories. This is almost a fifth of your total daily calorie allowance.

Stick to regular coffee or tea, or ask for your drink to be “skinny” (made with skimmed milk). Also, limit your alcohol intake, as alcoholic drinks can contain a lot of calories.

Fill up on winter vegetables

Eating a wide variety of foods ensures you get a range of nutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals.

Look out for seasonal root vegetables – such as swedes, parsnips and turnips – and winter veggies such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and artichokes. They’re filling as well as nutritious.

Make healthy food swaps

During the festive period, you may consume a lot of foods high in sugar, salt and fat, which can be high in calories.

Try these healthier alternatives:

  • Avoid dips made with cream or cream cheese – choose tomato-based dips, such as salsa, mix some chopped herbs into low-fat plain yogurt, or try reduced-fat hummus.
  • Opt for plain rice cakes, wholegrain oatcakes or plain unsalted popcorn with drinks – they’re a good alternative to crisps and salted nuts.