At this time of year, many of us are trying to lose a few pounds, but cold weather can sometimes make healthy food unappealing. Here's how to curb hunger pangs without derailing the diet.
Dark afternoons, freezing temperatures, gloomy weather - hardly conducive to sticking to a fresh, light diet plan of salads, raw veggies and plenty of water. But it's imperative that you get a handle on your hunger pangs during winter if you want to feel great and look better in spring. Here's exactly how to avoid the temptation of heavy meals and unhealthy snacks at this time of year.
One of the best ways to beat cravings is by preventing them from starting in the first place! Getting enough good, consistent sleep helps manage hunger all year round, but it's even more important at this time of year when short daylight hours knock our circadian rhythms off balance. Get to bed a little earlier, you'll be amazed by the positive effect on your hunger the next day
Get Outside During Daylight Hours
Make sure you get outside every single day during daylight hours, even if it's only for 30 minutes. If time is tight, take a walk around the block or simply stand outside. Exposing your face to natural sunlight during winter boosts vitamin D, helps lift your mood, and really does help you cope with feelings of hunger and those irrational cravings.
Know Your Red Flags
There's no one-size-all approach to managing food cravings. Some people will crave biscuits with a hot drink, others will start to crave stodgy food as soon as they sit down on the sofa at night. Take some time to get to know your own triggers, and then understand them. Only then can you see them coming and take steps to stop them in their tracks.
Stock Up On Healthy Goodies
Make sure your fridge, cupboards, desk drawer and bag contain healthy foods and quick-grab snacks so you don't have an excuse to pop to the corner shop, canteen or vending machine for those sugary treats.
Day Time Snacks to Curb Hunger Pangs
Try these foods to curb hunger between meals:
- Eggs: full of protein and healthy fats, and one of nature's most complete food sources. Try poached or scrambled, or make a batch of hardboiled and take a couple to work with you
- Good quality hummus spread (homemade is the ultimate) on a couple of oatcakes will give your body fats, fibre and slow release carbohydrates.
- Avocado: eaten with a spoon straight from the skin, sliced, or mashed and spread on oatcakes, will give your body an incredible array of nutrients.
- Dark chocolate: go as dark as you dare (70% or higher) and start with just one square. Sit and eat mindfully, letting the chocolate melt on your tongue and giving yourself time to enjoy the flavour hit.
- Homemade trail mix: combine raw, unsalted nuts (try lots of different types), seeds, dried fruit and dried berries, and some chopped dark chocolate. But make sure you exercise portion control!
- Dark chocolate mocha. Mix 1tsp real cocoa powder (not a sugary hot chocolate mix) with instant coffee granules and add boiling water. Mix really well and sip on the flavoursome, slightly fatty, caffeinated treat.
So in summary - Eat well at your meal times, don't skimp on calories, and don't fill up on fake, low-fat foods as this will only confuse your body and your hunger hormones further. Nourish your body with enough fibre and healthy fats to see you through the cold dark days of winter - and remember to get enough sleep!
Nutrition education makes up an important part of our Personal Training Courses at The Training Room, check them out here.