Winter’s cold weather and short, dreary days can cause even the most motivated individuals to skip the gym, huddle under blankets, and eat hearty comfort foods. Unfortunately, these behaviors can take a toll on your waistline during the winter. To help you avoid packing on extra winter weight, we’ve compiled five tips that will help you look and feel your best year-round.
1. Stock up on fruits and vegetables
Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you should forego fruits and veggies. Eating produce is a great — and easy — way to keep off unwanted winter weight. In addition to containing vital vitamins and minerals, many fruits and veggies have a high water content. Health explains that foods with a high water content can fill you up faster, causing you to eat less.
Additionally, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends substituting some of your high-calorie foods for fruits and vegetables as a way to cut unwanted calories. The Washingtonian suggests stocking up on produce that’s in season in the winter, including Brussels sprouts, persimmons, pomegranates, kale, grapefruit, broccoli, clementines, leeks, potatoes, and celery root.
2. Snack the smart way
If you wait until you’re famished to eat something, you’re more likely to overeat and consume something that isn’t healthy. Men’s Fitness explains that a great way to avoid this is by keeping healthy snacks in your car and at the office. Aim for high-protein foods, such as unsalted almonds or beef jerky, Men’s Fitness suggests.
Make sure that you aren’t skipping snacks as a way to cut calories, Health warns. “Snacking is an opportunity to fuel your body between meals,” nutritionist Rania Batayneh, author of The One One One Diet, told Health. Not only does snacking prevent you from overeating later in the day, but munching on nutritious snacks also keeps your metabolism revved up. Women’s Health recommends eating two 200-calorie snacks a day, one between breakfast and lunch and one between lunch and dinner.
Having a regular fitness routine during the winter plays a key role in maintaining a trim waistline, Lisa Giannetto, an assistant clinical professor in the Diet and Fitness Center at the Duke University Medical Center, told Web MD. “Come five o’clock, when it’s pitch black and cold out, you’re a lot more likely to go to your warm home and watch TV if you don’t have a regular fitness schedule that includes a variety of types of exercises,” Giannetto says.
Men’s Fitness recommends putting your workouts in your calendar like you would with meetings or events. If it’s in your calendar, you’ll know exactly when you’re working out and what you’re doing, making it more likely that you’ll follow through on your workout plans. For those who like to exercise outside, Men’s Fitness notes that there’s a wide variety of calorie-burning winter activities including skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. If you’d rather stay indoors during the winter, work out at home or invest in a gym membership.
4. Sip hot tea and water
Rather than drinking a daily mug of sugar- and calorie-riddled hot cocoa, sip hot tea or water instead. PopSugar states that one cup of peppermint tea contains zero calories, while an eight-ounce hot chocolate with whipped cream contains 183 calories. With a calorie count that high, it’s best to view hot chocolate as an occasional indulgence instead of a daily drink.
Shape adds that around 75% of Americans may be chronically dehydrated, which many of us mistake for hunger. By sipping water or tea throughout the day, you’re ensuring that you never misinterpret thirst for hunger again. Web MD notes that, on average, you should drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids every day. If you are sick, pregnant, or breast-feeding, or have just participated in an intense sweat session, you will need to up your water intake, explains Web MD.
5. Lighten up your favorite comfort foods
Cold weather often causes many of us to crave hearty and filling comfort foods, such as macaroni and cheese, chili, and pot pies. By lightening up your favorites, you can enjoy the same great-tasting dishes without all of the fat and calories. The Huffington Post writes that incorporating vegetables, such as kale, mushrooms, and onions, into your meals is a great way to create filling dishes that aren’t loaded with bad-for-you foods.
When it comes to mac and cheese, you can cut calories by making a cheese swap. Use Parmesan cheese instead of American; the flavor is stronger, meaning you can use less and still get the same cheesy flavors, according to the Huffington Post. If you’re looking for another way to work veggies into your dishes, Eating Well suggests incorporating it in your pasta. To do this, near the end of your noodle’s cooking time, add vegetables to the boiling water, drain, and combine with pasta sauce.