According to Johns Hopkins University research, the average person will gain 5-7 pounds during the winter. There is a biological tendency to gain weight in the winter time as historically it has been a time of food scarcity. The body often craves more carbohydrates and fats to store extra weight until spring time. Bringing awareness to the common reasons most people gain weight this time of year can help you stay trim and avoid the holiday bulge.
Due to the shorter days and colder weather, people tend to be much less active during the winter months and get less sun exposure, which can decrease mood. Having proper attire so that you can enjoy time outside is important. Try to get some rays while the sun is out. Choosing more indoor activities and sports can help ensure you maintain your activity level when the outdoors are not as welcoming.
There is less fresh fruit and vegetable varieties available in the winter. This often leads to eating less vegetables or choosing more starchy options like potatoes and squash. Seasonal options include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, onions, beets, celeriac, carrots, and radicchio. Warmer climates still have leafy greens and citrus fruits available.
Purchasing frozen vegetables can be a good option as they are flash frozen right after they are picked so there may be more nutrients available then fresh produce that has flown in from a tropical climate. Even with variety, still aim to have 50% of your lunch and dinner plates consist of non-starchy vegetables.
Holiday Eating & Drinking
An obvious factor in winter weight gain is the abundance of holiday parties and their accompanying calories. All the sweets, rich food and alcoholic beverages easily lead to weight gain, especially if you have become less active during the day. Try to keep your meals balanced and enjoy the treats without overindulging. Moderate your alcohol intake as it often leads to increased food intake and decreases sleep which negatively impacts metabolism.
If calorie counting helps you, you can use a free app such as My Fitness Pal or Lose It to track your intake and make sure the holiday festivities are not getting in the way of your goal. For some people, simply weighing themselves once a week helps them stay mindful and avoids a bigger surprise at the end of the winter.