Given the kind of summers we tend to have, it’s hard to dislike winter. This is the only time of year that we actually welcome the sun.
Unfortunately, there’s no pro without a con. And while we love it that the chill is here, it’s all too evident in our diets. Tempting aloo parathas with oodles of ghee. Yummy halwa, kaaju (cashew nuts), moongfallis (groundnuts) and chikki for cold-inspired attacks of the munchies. Party food and wedding food. And of course, endless rounds of coffee and tea. So nice, but so bad for the waistline. And the thighs and the hips and the arms. So no wonder many of us suffer from winter weight gain.
THE HEAT IS ON
“The problem is less activity and more food,” says Dr Seema Singh, a nutritionist with a private practice. “In winter, we tend to be lazy and eat more fatty foods.”
The reason we tend to feel hungrier in winter, explains Dr Singh, is that we’re exposed to less sunlight than usual. That leads to fluctuations in the hormones and certain chemicals in the brain. This in turn leads to food cravings, and so we tend to overeat. The problem is made worse by the fact that we are genetically inclined to store fat in our bodies in winter so that we keep warm.
Plus, when the weather gets colder, the blood vessels in the skin contract and blood moves to the centre of the body. There, it stimulates internal organs like the digestive tract, which leads to an increase in your appetite. Almost invariably, this means an increase in your weight.
“All this at a time when we cut down on our regular calorie-burning chores, such as short walks to the shops or walking between rooms at home, because of the cold,” says Dr Amita Guha, nutritionist with a private practice. “This results in an additional one to two kilogram weight gain during winter months.”
How do you fight winter weight gain? It’s not as hard as you may think. “This is the season that offers vegetables with the best nutritional values,” says Dr Singh. “So eat plenty of fruit and vegetables like oranges, plums, peaches, carrots, beetroot and radish. This is the best way to maintain your weight and stay healthy.”
And here are some other hints:
Eat 4-5 almonds and a handful of peanuts. Raisins and khajur (dates) are low in fat and increase energy levels.
Make stuffed chappatis instead of parathas and supplement them with tea or coffee as these beverages help digestion. Avoid packet and machine-made soup as they contain thickening starch which leads to weight gain. Always drink homemade soup.
Spend some time under the sun. Try a walk after lunch. This elevates your disposition.
Don’t go to a wedding or a party hungry. Snack on a fruit or some soup before leaving. You will be less tempted to indulge while you are there.
Drink wine, brandy and rum in moderation.
Drink adequate amounts of water as it helps in digestion. Hot water after meals is said to help weight loss.
Eat light meals every three hours or so.
Do stretching exercises, yoga and skipping indoors. Go to the gym, walk in malls and use the staircase instead of escalators.
Substitute sugar with honey. It is a natural sweetener and keeps your body warm.
Remember, moderation is important. Four or five spoons of halwa will do less damage than a bowl full of it.
- From HT Brunch, December 12
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