Its winter and if you feel like curling up on the couch with your favourite piping hot bowl of comfort food, you are not alone. The average person gains 2.5 – 4.5 kilos over the winter months as a direct result of overeating and under training. There are many theories as to why we overeat during the colder months, below are some common theories and how to put some strategies in place to prevent too many unwanted rolls taking up residence on your waistline over the cooler months.
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a depression associated with a change in season. In most cases this occurs during the winter months, but in some cases it is evident over summer. Also known as the winter blues this can cause cravings for calorie dense foods in large quantities. Studies suggest that these foods can cause a feeling of contentment and happiness. In order to prevent overeating and weight gain, portion control all meals, incorporate good healthy fats such as fish into your diet and swap white products with little nutritional value such as potato, bread, pasta, rice for their more beneficial counterparts kumera, brown rice and wholemeal pastas and breads.
Probably the most common theory as to why we overeat and weight gain during winter is our biological make up that triggers our primitive impulses to stockpile for the winter months ahead. In previous times scarcity of food over the colder months meant that this was a necessity to survive. These days modern day manufacturing processes means that there is very rarely any reason to go without, however, centuries of habits are hard to break. Review your portion size, continue to exercise and incorporate a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet to keep weight gain to a minimum.
- Traditional Winter Food
Seasonal vegetables available over the winter months are naturally higher in calories and starch, think potato, kumera, pumpkin and other root vegetables. Then there is the way in which we prepare food in winter. During the summer months most of us are happy with raw vegetables and a little grilled meat, in winter we like a cooked meal that is warm. Winter treats include roast dinners with a decent serving of gravy, casseroles (full of sauces), pasta dishes, and one pot meals bulked with startchy vegetables. If you feel like something warm opt for soup and skip the bread. Most soups have ample quantities of carbohydrate to keep your body fuelled, especially during the winter months when it is unlikely you are going to exercise outdoors.
You do not need to put on a couple of extra kilos just because of the change of season. With a little planning you can still enjoy some winter warmers and keep your body in Spring condition.