Published: Dec 10, 2010 1:56 PM EST
Updated: Dec 10, 2010 10:56 AM EST

Health Magazine discovers five natural ways to ward off those winter pounds.

1) Soak up some sun:

Lack of sunlight can trigger a drop in the feel-good brain chemical

serotonin, leading to depression-and cravings. Avoid carb binges by

getting as much natural light as possible; you'll get benefits even if

it's overcast. Drink your morning cup of coffee outside, work by a

window (if you can), and take at least 15 minutes to walk on your

lunch break. A well-lit home and office can help, too: Add cool

fluorescent lights, the type used in therapeutic light boxes.

2) Don't cut out carbs:

To make sure your serotonin level doesn't drop low enough to trigger

an all-out binge, you'll want to eat some carbs. Save them for late

afternoon and early evening, when serotonin dips and cravings tend to

start. "By 4 o'clock, give in to what your brain demands," Wurtman

says. "Have pasta, bread, and starchy vegetables like baked potatoes,

corn, squash."

In other words, carefully time your carbohydrate attack, and eat the

good-for-you complex carbs that are low in processed junk.

3) Get friendly with winter squash:

You may have enjoyed luscious farm-stand tomatoes all summer, but now

their grocery-store counterparts look pale and feel like mini-medicine

balls. But the produce that's naturally in season in winter is your

secret weapon for keeping off the pounds: People who ate the most

dark-green and orange fruits and veggies lost the most weight in six

months, according to Brazilian researchers.

Hello, broccoli, carrots, kale, oranges, spinach, sweet potatoes,

Swiss chard, winter squash! They're all delicious this time of year-so

toss them in your cart.

Move more indoors

4) A Michigan State University (MSU) study found that people who are

active outdoors in spring and summer working in their gardens, for

instance, drop that activity when the weather changes. "And they don't

make up for it," says researcher James Pivarnik, professor of

kinesiology and epidemiology at MSU.

So even if you're eating the same amount of food as you did in July,

you're not moving around as much, leading the scale to inch up. Find

an indoor activity you love so much that you'll do it often. We like

the Nintendo Wii Fit: You can perfect your virtual ski jump or hula

hooping form and more-all while burning those cold- weather calories.

5) Photograph your food:

One recent study found that by tracking calories with a food journal

you can double your weight loss. But who has time to write down

everything she eats? Solu¬tion: Put your camera phone to good use, and

snap a quick shot of all your meals and snacks (yes, even the little

nibbles). Then download the photos to your computer, and print them to

make a journal or compile them online with a service like or, where they'll calculate your

calories for a small fee. It's a tiny price to pay for a healthier winter body.