We gain an average 2lb to 4lb in weight over winter – and the worrying thing is that people who are already overweight tend to put on even more. If you don't want to face the misery of a January diet, here are five simple ways to avoid winter weight gain.
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1. Make the effort to exercise
Cold weather can make it harder to exercise outdoors, but that's no reason to stay on the couch. Many gyms have heated swimming pools, and leisure centres have indoor tennis and badminton courts - but you don't even have to leave the house.
Invest in a fitness DVD to do at home or search for one on YouTube. There are lots of free programmes to try, from dance to boxercise, so you're sure to find something for you.
Lack of physical activity, combined with comfort eating and over-indulging at Christmas leads to winter weight gain for many. Make the effort to exercise regularly, and you won't want to underdo all your hard work when the Quality Street tin comes around at work.
2. Choose low-calorie hot drinks
Sipping hot drinks can help to keep you warm in winter – but choose wisely. Hot chocolate and sweetened, syrupy coffee may be comforting but they are high in calories. A Starbucks medium caffe mocha, for instance, contains more than 360 calories. Try sipping on herbal tea and limit your hot chocolate fix to one (calorie reduced) cup a day.
3. Get your winter veggies
You don't have to eat salads to get a boost of veggie goodness. Try cooking up a big batch of hearty vegetable soup, or roast up a tray of vegetables on Sunday to eat throughout the week. Because they're high in fibre, they will help fill you up and make you less likely to snack on fattening foods. Plus, the vitamins and minerals will strengthen your immune system to ward off winter colds and flu.
Think beyond roasted veggies and stir fries. Winter root vegetables, such as swedes, parsnips and turnips, and veggies such as cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale, are super-filling as well as nutritious.
4. Beware of calories in alcohol
Most of us enjoy a drink or two over the party season, but alcohol can push your calorie count way up and lead to weight gain.
According to Drink Aware, "alcohol reduces the amount of fat your body burns for energy. While we can store nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, and fat in our bodies, we can't store alcohol. So our systems want to get rid of it, and doing so takes priority. All the other processes that should be taking place (including absorbing nutrients and burning fat) are interrupted."
Creamy drinks, such as Bailey's, are particularly high in calories. One serving contains 130 calories and 5.8g of fat. Watch your mixers, too. A single shot of whisky and coke has around 195 calories – opt for diet coke and this reduces to approximately 98 calories. A 250ml glass of wine contains 228 calories, roughly the amount of a 44g bar of chocolate. One pint of cider contains 210 calories - drink two pints and that's roughly the same amount as a Big Mac from McDonalds.
Cut how much you drink by ordering alcohol and then switch to a soft drink (no one will know you're drinking diet coke without the vodka). There's another good reason to avoid the dreaded hangover – you're less likely to reach for fatty or carb-heavy foods the next day.
5. Weigh yourself every day
Every January, thousands of people step on the scales and are shocked at how much weight they have gained over the festive season. Weigh yourself every day and you can keep track – and stop – the weight from creeping on. The pounds will naturally fluctuate day to day, but noticing a general increase can help to keep you accountable.
Whether you want to lose weight or improve your diet, here's our pick of the 20 best kitchen appliances and gadgets that will help you eat well every day.