Four secrets to staying slim in winter

Winter may be knocking at our door, but that doesn't mean you have to welcome tight pants and love handles. Here we uncover the secrets to keeping the weight off over the chilly season.

There are a few tricks to avoiding piling on the kilos over winter. We went to nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge for her best advice on which foods to stock up on when it's cold.

1. Make the switch to wholefoods

The colder weather can spark cravings for comforting "white" refined carbohydrate foods such as bread, white pasta and rice. All of which can cause blood sugar levels to spike, leading to overeating. Instead, the best foods to tuck into are those in their most natural state: whole foods. These wholesome foods such as brown rice, quinoa, legumes, and oats are rich in fibre, and are digested slowly, helping you to stay fuller for longer. Being in their closest natural state, whole foods are high in vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, which can help to boost our immunity and ward off colds and flu. A good guide is to eat three wholefood-rich meals per day, including two good-quality snacks, such as:

Breakfast: two poached eggs, served on a handful of baby spinach, topped with tomato salsa and feta cheese.

Snack: small handful of Brazil nuts with a cup of green tea.

Lunch: roast chicken breast with rocket, baby tomatoes, and a handful of lentils, drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice.

Snack: An apple or pear and a cup of liquorice tea.

Dinner: grilled Snapper fillet with olive oil, lemon, sweet potato mash, steamed green beans, and sesame seeds.

2. Pick your protein wisely

A simple trick to warding off weight gain is to include top-quality, low-fat protein in every meal, such as lean meats, fish, chicken, eggs, and legumes.

These foods have a thermogenic effect, which means they help the body burn fat during digestion (the body burns 90 calories digesting a 300-calorie chicken breast). Protein-rich foods also help to promote fullness, regulate blood sugar levels and balance moods.

A good guide is to keep protein servings to the size and thickness of your palm.

Wholesome sources of protein include organic eggs, tofu, Goat's milk feta, grass-fed beef, lamb, free-range chicken, wild oily fish and legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, adzuki and black-eyed peas.

Note: when purchasing canned legumes, look for labels marked BPA-free, or soak dried grains overnight before cooking.

3. Stay hydrated

Hunger can often be confused with thirst. So if you're feeling peckish late afternoon, ask yourself: how much water did I drink today?

Dehydration can prompt hunger pangs, headaches, congested skin, and even constipation. So try to drink at least two litres of water per day. Sipping on light soups, sparkling water with lemon, and herbal teas count too.

For an extra nutrition boost, try drinking green tea (rich in antioxidants), liquorice tea (to beat sugar cravings), or cinnamon tea (which regulates blood sugar levels).

4. Add some spice

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight is to cut out high-fat butter or creamy sauces and flavour food with spices instead.

Adding tasty spices such as cinnamon, cumin, coriander, turmeric, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and garlic to your food will not only be a treat to your taste buds, they help boost health too.

These spices are rich in antioxidants which help mop up the age-inducing free radicals our bodies are exposed to daily. If you like things hot, chilli and cayenne will help fire your metabolism up too. Or try ginger and turmeric, both of which have been proven to assist with inflammation in the body.

Top 10 foods to shop for in winter.

  1. Quinoa: a low-fat source of protein and rich in magnesium.
  2. Lentils: rich in iron and an excellent source of protein and complex carbohydrates.
  3. Black beans: a good source of fibre which aids digestion.
  4. Coconut oil: contains medium-chain fatty acids that stimulate your body's metabolism, leading to weight loss.
  5. Walnuts and Brazil nuts: a great snack to curb sugar cravings.
  6. Avocado: a quality source of "good fat" which helps you to feel full.
  7. Apples: in season, apples are high in pectin (or fibre) that supports a healthy bowel.
  8. Fresh oily fish: rich in omega-3 fats which are great for heart health and weight control.
  9. Grass-fed beef: new research reveals it contains the same beneficial omega profile as salmon.
  10. Free-range chicken: a versatile protein that can be made into many different dishes.

Article by - Michele Chevalley Hedge, Nutritional Medicine Practitioner, (Adv Dip of Nutritional Medicine, Australia Traditional Medicine Society), body+soul

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