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Although South African winters are relatively mild, many people pile on a few extra kilos along with the winter woollies!

Because of the cold, rain and reduced sunlight hours, our physical activity level often drops. We also tend to opt for “comfort foods” such as stews and curries, soups and hot chocolates instead of the more salad and fruit-based meals that we enjoy during the warmer months. The good news is that you can enjoy warm, wholesome food without having to buy bigger pants!

Here are some tips to ward off winter weight gain:

  • Make sure you still fit in exercise on a regular basis

If you find it too dark or cold to get up in the morning, switch to an evening exercise session. Join a gym or buy an exercise DVD so that you don’t have to go outside to exercise! When the sun is out, take advantage and go for a run/walk/hike!

  • Be wise with your hot drinks

Swap out regular tea and coffee for herbal teas. Cut down on your sugar intake and if you use milk, make it skim milk! If you indulge in the occasional hot chocolate or Horlicks, make sure you use skim milk. There are some great low fat/lite hot chocolates on the market that you can choose over the regular ones

  • Water water water!

It’s often difficult to drink enough water during winter. Remember that herbal teas such as rooibos count towards your fluid intake. Try having a glass of water with each meal and drinking herbal teas in between!

  • Stomach warming porridge

Replace cold cereals with high fibre porridge options such as Oats, wholewheat Pronutro or FutureLife

  • Choose low-fat sauces and soups

When preparing soups, stews and curries, use low-fat sauces and avoid adding cream, full-fat coconut milk etc.

  • Experiment with vegetables

Bulk up your meals with vegetables! Add them to soups, stews and curries or use as a side dish instead of salads. Try different preparation methods to keep it interesting

  • Healthy snack options

It’s difficult to snack on things like fruit and yoghurt when the temperature drops, but that doesn’t mean that you need to replace it with chocolates or biscuits! Snack on one of the following as a tummy warming alternative:

  • Wholegrain toast with reduced fat hummus or low fat cottage cheese
  • A cup of vegetable soup
  • Leftover veggies (warmed up!)
  • Wholegrain rusk with a cup of herbal tea