Avoid winter weight gain

Dark evenings, cold and rainy days, party food... it's little wonder we gain a few extra pounds during the winter. According to one survey, the average woman puts on 5lbs over the festive season.

avoid winter weight gain

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If you're keen to avoid the inevitable post-Xmas rush to the gym, here are some top tips for avoiding weight gain this winter.

Winter fitness
Now that the days are shorter, our exercise regime is likely to take a nosedive. But just because the evenings are dark and the weather chilly, it doesn't mean we can't keep fit.

Reducing your weekly exercise is one of the biggest contributors to winter weight gain, so it's important to keep it up. Whether it's a game of badminton, a swim in a heated pool, or a dance class, there are plenty of varied activities you can do within the warmth of a leisure centre. If you can't face the gym after work, try something new like dodgeball, yoga or martial arts.

Alternatively, with the usual glut of workout DVDs about to hit the market, it's the perfect time to get your exercise in the comfort of your own home.

With many of us missing the daylight because of work, it's also important to get your weekly fix of fresh air. Wrap up warm at the weekend and take a brisk walk in the countryside or, if the white stuff arrives, join the kids building a snowman or instigate a snowball fight.

There are a number of benefits to be had from exercising during the winter months - not only will you have more energy, making those cold mornings easier to face, your body will be fitter and better able to fight off the inevitable bugs and, thanks to the endorphins released during exercise, you are less likely to suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Eat well
Winter is when we tend to crave comfort food but all too often we reach for the takeaway menu or a high-calorie meal that can quickly pile on the pounds. Most of us eat more during the winter but it's essential to eat the right things.

Getting your five-a-day is vital - our bodies need the vitamins and minerals provided naturally by a healthy diet in order to fight illness and give us energy. Happily, winter veggies such as parsnips, swedes, curly kale and cauliflower are packed full of nutrients and are filling too.

To avoid takeaway temptation, ensure that your cupboards are well-stocked with pasta, rice, couscous, beans and pulses. If you have plenty of these kitchen staples in stock, you'll be less tempted to order a curry and more likely to cook yourself a quick and easy, nutritious meal.

Mind your mochas
A comforting hot drink on the way to work is a great way to keep warm. But your daily trip to the coffee shop can mean your consuming serious calories. A large Starbucks Mocha, for instance, totals 260 calories, while those lured by the store's (admittedly tempting) large White Hot Chocolate will be consuming a whopping 420 calories.

Add to that a blueberry scone (460 calories) and you've consumed near-on 1,000 calories before lunch.

There's no need to do away with your morning coffee but try to avoid the whipped cream, syrups and full-fat milk, and opt instead for regular tea or coffee with skimmed milk. And start the day with a warming bowl of porridge for a low-calorie, slow-release energy boost.

Be alcohol aware
There is no reason not to enjoy a drink come the festive season but the endless rounds of drinks parties and Christmas dos mean it's all to easy to end up with a beer gut (or something similar).

A 175ml glass of dry white wine amounts to 116 calories, a gin and tonic tots up 120 calories and a pint of cider boasts and impressive 204 calories per pint. Take the odd night off if you're hitting the party circuit and try to keep a tally of your weekly units to stay safe - no more than two to three units a day are recommended for women and only three to four for men.

Do you worry about piling on the pounds during the winter months? Leave a comment below...