Why does it seem like you gain an extra layer of pudgy padding from more than just your poufy coat every winter? Winter weight is harder to stave off because cold weather brings out the inner bear in us. The instinct to hibernate and seek warmth and comfort leads us to curl up, move less, slow down and crave cooked, fatty and sweet foods.
Some theorize that this behaviour hails back to ancient times. Bulking up on high-calorie foods and slowing down digestion once prevented us from starving during the long winter months. Today, these same behaviors prevent us from zipping up our pants after supper time. Beat winter weight gain, indigestion and bloating with these 10 tips to kick-start a dragging digestive system this winter season.
10 Ways to Enhance Women’s Weight Loss & Improve Digestion this Winter:
- Eat Smaller Meals More Often. Skipping meals may seem like a good way to cut daily calorie intake. But more often than not, a day of meal skipping usually concludes with a maniacal, calorie-crazed food binge session right before bed. Eating a lot in one meal overburdens your digestive system’s capabilities. Improperly and incompletely digested food leads to indigestion, constipation or diarrhea, food sensitivities, allergic responses, a weakened immune system and escalating weight gain. On the other hand, eating smaller meals allows your body to completely break down and utilize the nutrients in your food, helping to prevent calories from being stored as fat. Eat about five meals throughout the day, about 3 hours apart, that each consist of 200 to 300 calories.
- Drink between meals, not during meals. Your body requires powerful enzymes to break down and digest food, especially after heavy winter meals. Too much liquid drank during meal time can dilute these natural enzymes, preventing them from doing their job and leading to inadequate digestion and weight gain. Be sure to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water and herbal teas a day, as this helps with pure weight loss, good digestion, elimination and good health. However, drink between meals rather than during them.
- Don’t eat late. Your body needs at least two to three hours to fully digest a meal. Eating too close to bed time can disrupt the digestion process, leading to bloating, gas, and feeling ill the next morning. Avoid eating two to three hours prior to bed time, and don’t lie down right after a meal.
- Beware of beverage calories. The desire to wrap your hands around a warming mug of hot liquid in the winter makes us suckers for every corner café’s cornucopia of sweet sippers, creamy comforts and flavored frothy fixes. Unfortunately, these beverages come with high calorie price tags that our bodies don’t even recognize they’re paying for. The digestion system doesn’t register the calories from liquids the same way it does from solid foods, which prevents the “I’m full” hormones from signalling the brain to stop drinking. So the first place to start budgeting calories is in drinks. Increase the amount of calorie-free spring water and herbal tea that you drink, and cut back on drinks that include sweeteners, fat, alcohol and artificial ingredients.
- Eat healthy soups and stews. Avoid restaurant chowders and canned creamy soups that are full of fat, sodium and artificial ingredients. Satisfy your winter cravings for soul-warming, rib-sticking slow-cooked foods with healthy, home-made bone broths, vegetable soups and savory stews instead. Be sure to include vegetables that are high in fiber and protein, as these will fill you up on very little calories and help you eat less at meal time. Soup broths can also be detoxifying and highly nutritious, fortifying your immune system during flu season.
- Flavor with spice instead of fat. We tend to crave fatty foods in winter. However, while fatty foods stimulate your taste buds and warm your bones, certain spices can have a similar effect, minus the calories. In fact, many of these warming spices are hailed as metabolism boosters, balancing blood sugar and helping you shed fat. This winter, look for low-fat flavorful recipes that feature spices like cayenne pepper, chili, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, curry, cumin and saffron.
- Supplement with sunshine. Research has shown that healthy levels of vitamin D – a compound that our skin produces when exposed to sunshine – is important for good health and weight management. During the dark winter months, most people are deficient in this essential vitamin. Try to get outside as often as you can during the winter, making sure to expose some skin. If the weather gets too cold and dark for you to do this every day, than be sure to regularly take a vitamin D3 supplement.
- Be proactive with probiotics. The right gut bacteria are crucial for proper digestion, healthy elimination, weight management and a strong immune system. Fatty, sugary foods can throw this beneficial bacterial community off balance, while winter flu medications and antibiotics can completely wipe them out. Keep these important intestinal critters strong and plentiful in the cold months by eating fermented foods, like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and lacto-fermented pickles. Supplement with a high-quality probiotic formula that contains a wide range of gut flora, such as bifidobacterium bifidus and lactobacillus acidophilus.
- Make your white winter green. Leafy greens are your digestive system’s best friend when it comes to digestion, detoxification and weight loss. Typically, we gravitate to greens in the spring and summer, when they’re in season. Fortunately, there are particularly powerful and healthy types of greens that reach their nutritional peak in the winter. Including winter greens in your diet ever day will help you boost your digestion and wilt down your winter waist-line in no time. Winter greens like boy choy, cabbage, mustard greens, Swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens, Chinese broccoli, kale, arugula, spinach and parsley stimulate detoxification and are chalk full of fat-blasting fiber. They also armor up your immune system against winter illnesses with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, iron and calcium.
- Tea time. Green tea, white tea, ginger tea and peppermint tea have all been shown to improve digestion and aide in weight loss. Studies have even shown that hot cocoa made with pure, high quality cocoa powder may have weight loss effects. A mug can be your perfect winter mate when filled with the right boiling brew to boost a weary winter metabolism.
Heat up your body, spirit and digestive system this winter with these 10 simple ways to bypass winter weight gain, and skip straight into the sunshine of the slender spring that lies ahead.