As humans, are we biologically programmed to seek more food during winter, or is this purely psychological? The jury is still out. However, we CAN control how we respond to our increased appetite in winter, whatever the cause.
Tip 1: Focus on lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables
A balanced main meal is paramount to controlling your Winter tummy grumbles! Lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables, in particular, have a low calorie density, and super-filling to boot. To fight off hunger (and weight gain), we suggest:
- Women: Aim for ~120-150g lean protein, and 1-2 cups of non-starchy vegetables at each main meal. Keep starchy carbs to 1/2 – 3/4 cup, and choose high-fibre options.
- Men: Aim for ~150-200g lean protein, and 1-2 cups of non-starchy vegetables at each main meal. Keep starchy carbs to 3/4-1 cup, and choose high-fibre options.
If you’re still hungry – try to serve yourself extra non-starchy vegetables instead of extra carbs.
Tip 2: Address non-hungry snacking at home
During Winter, we often spend more hours at home, creating more opportunities for ‘non-hungry’ snacking. The urge to snack might be due to boredom, for example, whilst watching TV. It may also be due to stress, for example, after a long day at work, or after the kids have gone to bed.
Identify your ‘non-hungry eating’ triggers, and create a list of activities or alternative coping strategies. We suggest reading a book, taking a hot shower, doing a crossword, puzzle or craft activity (these work well in front of the TV), mindfulness activities (i.e. meditation), or better still – something active (i.e. a yoga class, going for a walk).
Keep yourself accountable by telling a family member, partner or roommate – anyone who can ‘catch you’ snacking when you don’t want to be! Alternatively, keep a food diary for a few weeks to help you catch and eradicate non-hungry snacking.
Tip 3: Have comforting, low calorie snacks on stand-by
If you are truly hungry – go ahead and have a snack. But – instead of reaching for comforting chips and biscuits, have some healthy alternatives on hand.
We suggest snacks based on non-starchy vegetables and lean proteins. For example, homemade veggie soup, chopped vegetables with hommus or cottage cheese, grilled chicken tenderloins, homemade protein balls, high protein yoghurt (perfect with homemade, hot stewed fruits), unsalted nuts, and roasted chickpeas. Treats to have in small portions may be 80% dark chocolate or low-sugar hot chocolate drinks.