Putting on an extra few kilos over winter seems inevitable. But with a little planning and the right approach, you can keep those extra kilos at bay.
Here are 8 ways to prevent putting on weight during winter.
1. Prioritise sleep
Sleep is fundamental to sustain our health and wellness, and its importance cannot be overemphasised. Lack of sleep can mess with your hunger hormones – leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is your satiation hormone. It decreases with lack of sleep, leaving you more likely to eat more the next day. Conversely, ghrelin is your hunger hormone. It increases with lack of sleep, which also increases your appetite when you don’t sleep well.*
* Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index (nih.gov) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/
2. Find support
Having someone in the same boat as you makes the journey a lot smoother. There is also something to be said about having someone with you who has either gone through or going through what you are. There is a sense of understanding and empathy that no one else can give you.
3. Plan your menu
This can help you avoid being impulsive or skipping meals altogether.
4. Get smart with your comfort foods
Eating is more than mere survival for us – it should also be pleasurable. To deny yourself of food you love is just as bad as gluttony. Find easy and doable substitutes for yourself. For instance, choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Have a steak instead of a burger. Have roasted vegetables instead of fries.
5. Manage your stress
You may have heard that stress can affect your weight. When you experience physical or psychological stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. It can increase your blood pressure and blood sugar levels while suppressing your immune system. For many people, weight is more than just a physical issue. More often than not, it is psychological and chemical.
6. Get active
Be honest with yourself about what you like and what you do not. If going to the gym isn’t your thing, don’t force yourself to go. Rather, find an activity that you enjoy. Take a walk, try dancing, get a skipping rope. The internet is full of free workout classes to cater for just about any preference. The combination of eating well, stress management and physical activity have the greatest result for weight management.
7. Stay hydrated
When in doubt, drink a glass of water. Dehydration is one of the primary causes of low energy and fatigue, especially in the winter months. Before you eat anything, drink a glass of water. When you wake up, drink a glass of water. Before you have coffee, drink a glass of water. We oftentimes confuse dehydration with hunger or cravings.
8. Watch your blood sugar
Insulin is a hormone that allows cells to absorb glucose from the blood. Glucose is essentially sugar. When your blood sugar level increases or decreased too drastically, it causes the body to store fat. However, if your blood sugar levels are stable throughout the day, your body is better able to metabolise and burn fat. Foods that are highly processed and contain loads of sugar should therefore be eaten with caution. Foods like sweets, chips, bread, cereals and carbonated drinks can cause spikes in your insulin levels. The rule of thumb is – eat foods that are as close to their natural state a possible.