Winter blues can hit the waistline

By Ben Parsons

If you notice your waistline is getting bigger, you may have a new excuse - "seasonal depression" during winter makes people eat more. Photo / Supplied
If you notice your waistline is getting bigger, you may have a new excuse - "seasonal depression" during winter makes people eat more. Photo / Supplied

If you notice your waistline is getting bigger, you may have a new excuse - "seasonal depression" during winter makes people eat more.

Research released as part of the New South Wales Food Authority's 8700 campaign said more than half of men and a third of woman expect to tip the scales at least 5kg heavier by the end of winter.

Psychologist Dr Alice Boyes said depression was rife in winter and could make fattier foods more appealing.

"It is called seasonal depression. People are looking for things to pick them up and when you are stuck in the office on a winter day you are more likely to make poorer choices.

"People don't have the sources of pleasure as well. There isn't as much socialising, but much more sitting around and eating and drinking."

The price of food is another factor in poor food choices, with salad ingredients costing much more. Tomatoes yesterday cost $10.99 a kg compared with $3.99 a kg in January.

"People choose to cook winter vegetables in more hearty ways, like roasting. It isn't as healthy as a salad in summer," Dr Boyes said.

The cold weather could interrupt exercise routines and trigger comfort eating, with the temptation to snack on fatty and sugary foods hard to resist.

"It can be very tempting to grab a fast, high-fat takeaway on the way home on a colder winter's night," said nutritionist Bronwen Anderson.

Exercise also suffered as it got colder, with 62 per cent saying if it was below 14C they would not exercise.

Ms Anderson urged people to keep exercising regardless of the weather.

"Keep moving and make sure that there is exercise in every day whether that means parking a little further away from the supermarket door, taking the stairs instead of the lift or joining a local gym or exercise class."

EATING TIPS

* Steam vegetables instead of roasting or frying.
* Make vegetable soups and freeze them for late nights.
* Snack on lower calorie options like carrot sticks or plain popcorn.
* Add fruit to winter breakfasts such as porridge.
* Choose lean meat and fish for casseroles.
* Avoid high-calorie desserts such as puddings.
(Source: Nutritionist Bronwen Anderson)

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