Wednesday 21 March 2018

Promotion: How can I avoid winter weight gain?

Make the most of weekends and lunch times to exercise during the winter. Picture posed - Getty Images
Make the most of weekends and lunch times to exercise during the winter. Picture posed - Getty Images

Dr Evelyn Hannon

I always seem to put on weight throughout the winter months and lose it again in summer. With the summer now over, I wondered could you give me any advice to break the cycle this year?

LowLow nutritionist Dr Evelyn Hannon replies:

This is actually quite common. We tend to eat lighter dishes such as salads and more fruit and vegetables during the summer months and we also tend to be more physically active.

Shorter days and cold wet weather limit the amount of time we can spend outdoors in winter. While during the summer months many of us might go for a walk or run in the evenings or play sport, it is far more tempting to spend winter evenings curled up by the fire.

More time spent at home on cold winter nights also has many of us reaching for comfort foods such as chocolate or biscuits. Then of course the festivities surrounding Christmas which start earlier every year can make life even more difficult when it comes to trying to control our weight.

Well, the good news is is that it is possible to break the cycle.

My top tips to avoid winter weight gain include:

Plan, plan, plan

Planning ahead is essential. Be prepared for snack attacks. Have plenty of healthy snacks (fruit, vegetables, yoghurts etc) to hand to help you avoid reaching for the biscuit tin too often.

Set aside a day every so often to pre-make healthy dinners that you can freeze. Lasagnas, stews and casseroles made with lean meat, lots of vegetables and reduced fat cheese are all great wholesome winter warmers.

Be sure to keep cupboards well stocked with ingredients for that ‘meal in minutes’ if you need it. Wholegrain pasta, tomato sauce, baked beans and eggs are all good choices. This will help you avoid any last-minute takeaway orders or snacking on fatty foods in the evening.

See the light

If you find it hard to fit in exercise during the winter months, make the most of the daytime hours by going for a brisk walk at lunchtime.

Recruit a friend or even better, set up a lunchtime walking club at work to help you stay motivated.

Make the most of weekends to exercise if you find it difficult during the week. Exercise indoors with an exercise video or skipping rope.

Don’t drink your calories

We tend to have hot drinks more in winter to help us stay warm. Remember that liquid calories can slip by very easily.

Many of us take in more calories from drinks than we probably imagine. That latte, mocha or cappuccino on the way to work on a cold winter morning can contain 300 calories and 15g of fat which is over 20pc of your daily recommended fat intake.

Ask for low fat or fat free milk in your latte, choose smaller portions, avoid the extras such as cream and syrup and stick to tea and coffee to help you save calories.

Downsize portions

By keeping portion sizes reasonable, it is easier to eat the foods you want and stay healthy. Many of us serve bigger portions that we need simply out of habit.

Help control your portions by investing in smaller tableware such as bowls, plates and cups.

Keep seconds out of sight by serving food in the kitchen rather than leaving it on the table.

Eat slowly to help you recognise that you are full earlier so that you do not eat more than you need to.

Thanks to LowLow Nutritionist Dr Evelyn Hannon RPHNutr. For more information on LowLow check out

If you have a question for Dr Evelyn, email

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