Avoid the winter weight: Sticking with your diet goals as the colder months set in

Jun 03, 2024
Why do we reach for that block of comforting chocolate over a piece of fruit when the mercury drops? Source: Getty Images.

With the the colder weather well and truly here the desire to reach for comfort food over something healthier can sometimes be hard to ignore. The urge to eat more is also another factor that strikes in the colder months faster than the dropping temperatures. But why do we reach for that block of comforting chocolate over a piece of fruit when the mercury drops?

A 2022 study titled, Relationship between Seasonal Changes in Food Intake and Energy Metabolism, Physical Activity, and Body Composition in Young Japanese Women, examined the “seasonal changes in food intake, energy metabolism, and physical activity (PA) and explored their associations with body composition” in an attempt to answer that question.

The study found “the intake of protein and carbohydrates significantly decreased in summer compared to winter” with fat intake decreasing during the warmer months.

“Seasonal changes in food intake were evident, with the highest intake of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and total energy occurring in winter, and the lowest intake of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and total energy occurring in summer,” the study found.

Although it appears crystal clear that we scoff down a little more during winter, the reason why seems to be a mystery. Starts at 60 reached out to the experts to determine why as the temperate decreases our food intake increases and what can be done to stick to your nutrition and dieting goals and avoid a blowout.

“Winter is coming” and so is your appetite

Eating healthy
Winter can triggers biological changes that stimulate hunger. Source: Getty Images.

There are a number of factors that contribute to your insatiable appetite during winter, ranging from biological to just simple human nature.

Naturopath and clinical nutritionist Kimberly Kushner from Happy Healthy You highlighted that during “the cooler months, people are indoors more”.

“So perhaps they seek comfort foods to fill their time or quench their boredom. With winter, comes lots of liquid calories too, hot sweet drinks to warm the bones, but they may contain lots of refined sugar and fat together making it more challenging to maintain diets,” she said.

Dietitian Erin Murnane from Balance and Bite noted that “Winter triggers biological changes that stimulate hunger, reduce motivation, and increase energy requirements, making it hard to stick to a diet”.

“When it comes to sticking to your health goals during winter, remember that the most important thing is nourishing your body and boosting its immunity,” she said.

Don’t leave your diet out in the cold

Sticking to your diet.
Accountability is key when it comes to health and fitness goals. Source: Getty Images.

Cosying up to a loved one during Winter can provide a much needed respite from the harsh cold conditions but pairing up with a friend or significant other can also help you stick to your diet goals.

Kushner holds “accountability” above all else when it comes to nutritional and diet goals.

“Speak to a friend who’s encouraging and motivating, tell them about your wins and your challenges. Surround yourself with people like this,” she said.

Kushner also highlighted the importance of “repetition and routine” when trying to stick to a specific diet.

“Sticking to anything is solely about forming new habits. Do things over and over again until it becomes a habit. Move your body daily, eat well daily, and establish good mental health habits daily.

“There is no shortcut. Keep doing these things until they are part of what you love and enjoy doing for yourself.”

Treat yourself from time to time

Reward yourself.
Treat yourself for all your hard work. Source: Getty Images.

Unlike Winter your food intake through the colder months doesn’t have to be gloomy, Kushner suggested rewarding “yourself with an experience” for all your dieting hard work.

“I would ask myself, what are you rewarding yourself for? Why not reward yourself with an experience, outing, or something you really need. How about a float session, massage, mani/pedi, nice lunch out with a friend, walk in nature, etc,” she said.

“Food is fuel, it is sustenance, it is life giving and it should be something that you have a healthy relationship with. The cycle of bingeing and depriving, along with rewards and punishments causes a really unhealthy relationship with food.”

From time to time you will no doubt slip up with your diet, despite your best laid plans, and may possibly have a bit of a blowout. Kusher stresses not to dwell too much on it.

“Don’t stress! Life happens. Get back on track, get back on your accountability train, start meal prepping, get in the right headspace, and just keep going,” she said.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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