Brrr! This Winter, Say Goodbye to Weight Gain by Eating Healthy
Why it’s difficult to lose weight in winter and how to win against the season.
As the temperature dips, the scale begins moving right – almost with a will of its own. Yes, the struggle to keep the winter pounds from piling on is real. Most of us face it, and usually lose the battle.
The fact is that winter means more time spent sitting indoors, which means less exercise, and the list of goodies on hand (malpua, gajak, mince pies, etc) makes it worse. Plus the real reason, according to me, is that during cold months we all have the option of hiding (easily) the extra flab under a couple of layers of warm clothes, and so we conveniently postpone the taking stock (of weight!) for later – the summer months. Why worry about something that is not showing now!
Actually, the truth is that this is something you can simply blame the weather for! Shorter daylight hours leads to a decrease in levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine, which makes us sluggish, lethargic, and not really in the mood for exercise.
Winter months also means less daylight hours, so melatonin levels tend to increase. This hormone is triggered by darkness and signals your body to go to sleep, but it also increases the appetite. So higher levels mean more hunger. Also less exposure to sunlight also means lower vitamin D, which is important for fat breakdown. Its deficiency triggers fat storage and the food you eat thus gets stored in fat cells more, meaning weight gain is almost a given during colder, darker months.
But that said, it is not difficult to lose weight during this time, provided you learn to outsmart the season.
Step out and soak up the sun. Go for a walk in the afternoon when the sun is strongest. This way you’ll score vitamin D and sunlight will also help prevent the dip in serotonin.
Hibernation is a natural impulse during colder months, but don’t succumb to this temptation. Instead, maintain your exercise regimen stringently. Shift exercise indoors if you wish to, but don’t skip it.
In fact, every minute of movement you perform is significant. That means take the stairs, not the elevator when at work. Take the dog out for a walk. It’s Christmas time, go shopping, but on foot. And keep your house neat and clean, (expends a lot of calories). Always find ways to burn extra calories, whether you feel like it or not.
Be double sure not to bring home heavy calorie-laden goodies every dreary winter evening. Rather, stock up heavily on the wonderful winter fruits and veggies. OD on winter greens, they’ll salvage your situation.
Give your body the fat it’s craving, but choose smart. Opt for healthy fats – nuts, seeds (yes! til ka ladoo is a great idea), coconut oil, olive oil, and a little bit of ghee too.
Feed your body warm foods. Warm spices and herbs (black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger) help sustain your energy. Also have a nourishing soup every day. In fact, there is nothing better than a mineral and nutrient rich, warming broth. Remember how your mom used to feed you chicken soup all through winter when you were young? She was right! Mother knows best!
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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