AS WINTER creeps in, so can the kilos.
According to CQUniversity psychologist Talitha Best, who is completing a research fellow in nutrition and brain health, our craving for bigger hearty meals is natural this time of year.
"It's normal for people to think that they are going to put on the extra kgs over winter because of the types of food that are often consumed at this time," she said.
"For many, winter triggers cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods."
Our cravings for comforting carbs like mashed potatoes, puddings, breads and pastas may be driven by the impact these types of foods have on our mood, she said.
"Feelgood hormones such as serotonin and dopamine are temporarily "boosted" when we eat carbohydrates.
"These types of foods are simple carbohydrate foods that lead to highs and lows in blood sugar levels - these highs and lows often lead to craving more of that food."
She said the secret to staying trim in winter was to make healthy foods more appetising.
"Keeping up with the 2 and 5 campaign (two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables) is easier in winter, as we can make soups with lots of vegetables, warm foods with cooked vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, beans, sweet potato, and use legumes in soups and stews.
"These types of foods are more sustaining and help to maintain body weight," she said.
However, there is nothing exciting about eating cold fruit in winter.
"Make warm dishes of stewed fruits, instead of sugary puddings and buns, and put with some natural yoghurt instead of ice-cream," she said.
"Be mindful of calories through hot drinks - having one now and then is great, but they often contain a lot of hidden calories, so swap a hot chocolate for a herbal tea, hot water and lemon and ginger tea to support the immune system and keep you healthy."
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