Cold nights on the couch always feel better accompanied by a treat: Whether it's a takeaway in front of the TV, a hot chocolate on a rainy afternoon, a few cookies here and there, a couple of wines in a cosy bar... before we know it the number on the scales has snuck up on us and our pants are tight enough that we have to admit we've put on a few extra kilos over winter.
So what can we do to shift them for summer and get back to feeling fit, vital and energetic?
I'm a big fan of adding good things rather than suggesting cutting things out. That's because if we add in enough good things they end up crowding out much of the bad stuff, so we don't feel deprived or restricted when it comes to our food choices.
Here are my top five foods to help drop those winter kilos:
1. START: Using lemons and apple cider vinegar
An absolute must in my book is warm to hot water with ½ Tbsp. of organic apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon to start the day.
This helps immensely with managing appetite, increasing our ability to burn fat, boosting our immune system - which is really important as the seasons change - as well as improving our gut health. This is imperative to reducing body fat and feeling great.
2. SWAP: Your morning tea muffin
Many of us choose a muffin for morning tea as a healthy option but, more often than not, they're loaded with sugar and have a massive amount of calories that could equal a main meal.
• Try it
Go for higher protein foods. They can help manage appetite, improve focus and concentration, help with fat burning and improve energy.
Try making some mini egg muffins or having a boiled egg, some sugar-free beef jerky, a grilled chicken drumstick or, if you need something a little more portable and convenient, some raw nuts or some diced salami popped in a snaplock bag.
3. INCREASE: Natural fats
Increasing the amount of natural, healthy fats in your nutrition is a great way to reduce body fat. Yes, I know it sounds strange because we often think eating fat means more stored fat on our body, but that's not the case at all. In fact, some natural, healthy fats help us lose body fat, improve brain function and enhance joint health.
• Try it:
Add some avocado to your salads instead of bottled dressing which is often loaded with hidden sugars.
Snack on some coconut shavings for afternoon tea to curb those afternoon cravings or - my favourite - pop a teaspoon of coconut oil into your herbal tea or coffee. It sounds crazy but it helps immensely with cravings, improving energy, burning fat, improving our stress response and much more.
4. ADD: Fresh vegetables
It may sound obvious but many of us forget the importance of the small things when it comes to our nutrition. Coming into warmer weather, it's much easier to start eating salads and increasing our fresh vegetable consumption.
Vegetables go a long way to keep us feeling full, increasing our fibre and enhancing our intake of many vitamins and minerals - something we can be depleted in especially after the winter months.
• Try it:
Make a morning green drink with celery, cucumber, silver beet, courgettes a little lime and some berries for sweetening if desired. It's an easy way to help increase fluid intake and get your greens in one hit.
5. TRY: Eggplant
This is a new favourite of mine and, for those of us who aren't so savvy in the kitchen, I'm finding it's super versatile.
• Try it:
Grilled on the BBQ with a little coconut oil or lemon olive oil is wonderful as a replacement bread or bun option.
Diced into cubes an added to stir-fry chicken or beef dishes adds a little meatier texture.
Made into chips by slicing an eggplant thinly and baking it.
Eggplants are native to India and are a great addition to helping reduce body fat. They aid in digestion, help reduce inflammation, increase our fibre intake and, according to many, can help decrease the absorption of fat.