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,
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
www.nutrax.com or www.myfoodphone.com, where they'll calculate your
calories for a small fee. It's a tiny price to pay for a healthier winter body.