When you really think about it, you’ll realise that winters are no friends of your waistline. Not only do they bring Diwali, Christmas and other festivals positively designed for excess helpings of rich food, but the body also seems to hold on to every extra kilo more stubbornly than in summer.
But there’s good news: the weight gain isn’t inevitable. With the right moves, the only extra layers on you should be your sexy knits.
Dr Jayashree Todkar, obesity consultant at Hiranandani Hospital, explains that while it’s true that the body tends to conserve more fat during the colder months, it’s not directly because of the drop in temperature.
“The cold weather causes us to modify our lifestyles, which results in bigger numbers on the scale,” she explains. This means that cooler breezes make you lazier, cause you to snuggle rather than work up a sweat, crave creamy (carb-heavy) foods like bread and pasta, and pack on that additional tyre around your belly.
Sandeep Sachdev, a nutrition consultant with Fitness First India, agrees. “In winter, your body needs more energy to keep your temperature normal. In order to get that energy one tends to eat more food than you actually require,” he says.
But fitness expert Mickey Mehta believes that the urge to snack non-stop in winter could be because of fluctuating hormones and other chemicals that cause changes in appetite.
What to eat
So how do you dodge those calories? With simple common sense. Avoid large quantities of fried food and high-calorie dishes, recommends Salome Benjamin, chief medical nutritionist and dietitician with Nair Hospital.
Instead get your good fats from a modest serving of nuts. Slurp on clear, not creamy soups. Snack on light foods like idlis and serve sheera, not Sacher torte, for dessert. If it must be pudding, make bread pudding. And if there must be a meaty dish at the table, let it be a stew instead of an oily gravy.
“And keep sipping water, even though winters don’t make you as thirsty,” advises Benjamin. “You’ll feel full and keep yourself hydrated as well.”
How to burn it off
Sameer Sawant, assistant fitness manager at Fitness First India, says that exercising is even more essential at this time, because that’s when the amount of blood reaching the extremities of the body is reduced.
Exercising promotes circulation, warms you up and helps you keep fit. “Combine at least two forms of workouts in different combinations to fight monotony,” Sawant says. Team cardiovascular activities like swimming, badminton and squash with strength training like weights and push-ups. Stick to indoor workouts as the body will warm up better.
“Gym workouts, calisthenics, aerobics, Pilates, brisk walks, cycling, boot camp and yoga are my recommendations,” says Mehta. “Make sure you do yoga and pranayam at least three days a week and suryanamaskar daily.” In Mumbai, there’s no excuse to not work out, even when it’s cool. “We aren’t in such a cold place that we can’t be active,” reasons nutritionist Dr Shilpa Joshi.
CHOOSE BEFORE YOU EAT
Replace fried sweets such as jalebis with a piece of jaggery.
Eat low-fat sweets such as til gud, chikkis, sandesh, homemade fruit custard and low-fat kheer.
Junk deep-fried food items such as samosas, kachoris and pakodas and switch to nuts, popcorn and khakra.
Avoid aerated colas. Drink fresh fruit juice or better still, just eat a fruit. It’s healthier.
Once in a while, indulge yourself, but make sure you burn it all off.
Use skimmed or low-fat milk for oats, teas and yoghurt.
THE WINTER SURVIVAL plan
Morning: Two glasses of warm water or any kind of tea without sugar.
Breakfast: One helping of poha cooked in less oil; two slices of wholewheat toast with chutney, sliced cucumber or tomato slices and two egg whites; a cup of oats or muesli with skimmed milk, without sugar; one bowl of fruit; one cup of warm low-fat milk with porridge, cereal; idli, upma.
Mid-Morning: A cup of green tea with a handful of almonds and walnuts; one fruit or one glass of fresh tomato, carrot or bottle gourd juice.
Lunch: Millet rotis or one cup brown rice, pulav or biryani with chicken gravy, grilled fish, hot stews and soup; vegetables cooked in less oil, sprouts or dal, salads, skimmed milk yoghurt; paneer (not more than 0.8 to 1 gm per kg of your body weight).
Tea time: One cup tea with low-fat milk and little or no sugar and diet snacks like roasted chana, dry bhel, non-oily khakhra or popcorn.
Dusk: One fruit (choose from apples, oranges, a slice of melon, pomegranates, and a slice of papaya).
Dinner: One bowl of vegetable soup with salad, sauteed or steamed vegetables, one millet roti; a bowl of moong and brown rice khichdi with vegetables; chicken curry, stew, or stuffed rotis.
- Compiled by Mickey Mehta and Salome Benjamin
From HT Brunch, December 23
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