Stay Fit This Winter: 10 Top Tips for Eating Well During the Colder Months
With winter just around the corner and the cold evenings drawing in, you maybe struggling to summon the motivation to hit the gym. Winter, Christmas and New Year are all common barriers preventing us from keeping fit and healthy during these cold months. On top of the weather, eating higher calorie foods makes positive food consumption and staying in shape that bit more challenging.
However, the battle is not lost! There is plenty you can do to make sure you stay fit and healthy through the winter months. It all starts here with our ten simple tips to stay on track this coming winter.
1. MAKE ‘HEARTY’ FOODS IN BULK
Soups, stews and other hearty foods are not only great for comfort during the cold winter nights, they’re also packed full of vitamins and minerals to fend off those winter sniffles. Buying ingredients in bulk, bagging up portions and freezing them means even after the bleakest of winter days there’s always something comforting to come home to. Becoming savvy and planning ahead will also save you a surprising amount of money which will also help you to save for Christmas.
2. USE LOCAL SEASONAL VEGETABLES
This is another great money saving tip, a great way to support local businesses and make sure your diet is packed full of important nutrients. It just so happens, autumn/winter seasonal vegetables such as parsnips, cabbage, leek, onions, broccoli and sprouts are perfect ingredients for making tasty soups, stews and casseroles.
3. CHOOSE LOWER CALORIE DRINKS
The biggest issue for most people during the winter festivities is too much alcohol. Something as simple as swapping wine and beer for spirits and lower calorie mixers will keep your fat percentage down. And perhaps put the brakes on any potential excessive drinking.
However, this doesn’t just refer to alcohol. When it’s cold you might enjoy a nice hot chocolate or spiced latte (or two). But watch out for added sugar in syrups and cream, as these can really add up and tip the balance when it comes to gaining unwanted ‘fluff’.
4. CONTROL YOUR FOOD ENVIRONMENT
This is a big and challenging one! It’s cold, you’re tired, soaked to the bone and you walk through the door – what do you do? Straight to the cupboard for some comfort food of course! It’s far too easy to chase your comfort foods. This is an issue for the vast amount of people and in all fairness an understandable one. Food, especially highly calorific sweet and fatty foods, are great for lifting your mood but not so great for our waistline!
What you can do is remove ‘the devil over your shoulder’ and make sure you don’t have many of those foods at home. This is where our first tip can be a real help.
We’re only human and our brains are wired that way. So it’s not just a weakness to want these foods but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. Make smaller changes at first, not drastic ones and you’ll see improvements in time.
The obvious time most people go off track nutritionally is over the festive period. The answer is ‘simple’, buy what you need, and not in excess. Yes, other people might have an entire warehouse worth of biscuits, chocolate and sweets, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same!
5. PICK YOUR (EATING) BATTLES
It’s acceptable to have a work Christmas meal followed by a night out and it’s completely fine to indulge at Christmas and New Year. However for the rest of your free time choose your battles wisely and try to eat in a more naturally healthy way. Yes, it’s hard to eat healthily over Christmas and New Year. You can choose to use these periods as a chance to justify eating to excess, or you can pick your battles and take a more sensible, less damaging approach – so you don’t have to diet it all back off AGAIN in the New Year.
6. MAXIMISE YOUR OUTPUT
OK yes, the warmth of the sofa and a blanket is far more appealing than leaving the house and going to the gym. But be creative about increasing your expenditure to offset some of those winter calories.
Taking a winter stroll, or hitting a lunch time class at the gym, or even a quick workout at home will help keep you stay on track and make you feel so much better. Remember, exercise boosts positive endorphins around your body, leading to better productivity at work and a more motivated you! This is SCIENCE people!
7. TRACK YOUR CALORIES
There are several apps out there to help log your personal food intake. The most popular one is My Fitness Pal. This is not only a way to keep an eye on how those little treats add up, but as it contains pretty much every food imaginable it allows you to plan ahead so even if you’re eating out you can stay on track… or at least have a good idea of what you’re actually consuming.
The best way to manage your recordings is to simply scan the barcode of the product you’re about to consume. It can be a little confusing inputting your foods by estimates and often there are several variations of the one product you’re looking to record!
8. CONTROL YOUR PORTIONS
Do you really need that second piece of cake, ‘just one more’ cookie or to fill your plate until it’s spilling over!? It might only be a mouthful or two, but those mouthfuls do unfortunately add up! Winter shouldn’t be an excuse to ignore your previous eating amounts and for many people simply using effective portion control is enough to stay on track. You’ll be really surprised by your potential results if you continue to eat the ‘treats’ in small moderations. Track your MACROS people!
9. WORK ON MAKING BETTER CHOICES WHEN EATING OUT
For many people they feel the battle is lost as soon as they enter a restaurant. What’s the point of trying to eat healthily, there are definitely no healthy choices… are there? The fact is most places have decent options to help control calories, we are all just often programmed to go for the most calorific choices Your eyes are not bigger than your belly so try to create a new habit of thinking about alternatives you will still enjoy but aren’t too excessive.
Alternatively, eat what you like, but try and track your calorie intake as in Tip 7 so you can find out exactly what you’re eating and even plan your eating out so the rest of the day you can eat more ‘sensibly’ to accommodate the extra calories.
10. BE MINDFUL OF YOUR GRAZING HABITS
Many people actually don’t realise how much extra food they eat, especially when it is readily available and easy to access. Being in an environment with open tubs of sweets, biscuits, crisps, eating in front of the television and even being around food when cooking are opportunities to eat without thinking about it!
Be mindful of those bites, nibbles and tastes… they do contain calories and can add up if you’re not careful.