Top tips from nutritionist, Helen Money to beat those carb cravings, comfort calling habits and the winter bulge!
Studies on seasonal eating patterns have found that despite living in centrally heated houses and working in warm offices as the weather turns colder portion sizes increase as does carbohydrate intake. Also found is that people that suffer with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) significantly increase carbohydrate intake over winter.
Always remember the ½, ¼, ¼ rule. Your plate should be ½ vegetables, ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrate. Pile your plate high with seasonal vegetables such as kale which is very low in calories but high in essential vitamins and minerals
Avoid fast release carbohydrates (high GI/simple carbohydrates) these will cause sharp falls in blood glucose levels which creates cravings for sugary foods and makes it more difficult to choose healthy snacks. Instead choose slow release carbohydrates (low GI/ complex carbohydrates) which will keep blood glucose levels even.
Eat foods that will keep you fuller for longer. If you get over hungry you will make bad food choices. Protein is the macronutrient that increases satiety the most. Choose low fat proteins such as fish, chicken, venison, tofu, beans and lentils. Venison is an excellent low fat red meat in season over winter. High in iron and zinc it has all the benefits of a red meat but much lower in saturated fat (and therefore calories). Great for casseroling with lots of vegetables.
There is so much research showing that people who eat breakfast consume less calories throughout the day and are less likely to be overweight. Start the day with a warming breakfast. Breakfast should be around 20% of total calorie intake e.g for an average female consuming 2000 calories a day, breakfast should be 400 kcal. Two great breakfasts to start the day are cinnamon porridge with skimmed milk, seeds and fruit and eggs, spinach and wholegrain toast.
Take a vitamin D supplement October – March. Due to the angle of the sun to the earth over these months humans can not synthesize vitamin D from the sun (however a bright and sunny day it is). Studies have found that it is common for obese people to be deficient in vitamin D. It is thought that vitamin D deficiency causes the hypothalamus (part of the brain that is involved in hunger signaling) to release more hunger signalling hormones. Another reason to keep vitamin D levels topped up is that calcium rich diets have been found to aid weight loss and vitamin D is needed to regulate of calcium absorption.
Protect your immune system! There is nothing like a cold to get a person sitting on their sofa under a duvet scoffing biscuits. The most important nutrients to support the immune system are vitamins A, C, D, E, iron and zinc. Pack your diet with green leafy vegetables, oranges, chillis, nuts, seeds and low fat red meat such as venison.
Be prepared! Snacks should always be pre-planned and carried with you. This is never more important than in winter. It is hard to resist chocolate, cakes and biscuits when you are cold and hungry. If you have healthy snacks with you they can be eaten to prevent getting over hungry and will reduce the cravings for less healthy options.
Remember these tips and beat the winter bulge!