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Winter Weight Gain Solutions

Posted on January 7, 2019 by Janet Brancato, MS, RDN

What is it about winter that can lead to excess pounds? Is it the darkness, cold temperatures or the desire to hibernate? It can actually be all of the above! The shorter, darker days definitely make us sleepier and more sedentary. The lack of exercise due to weather or darkness can definitely put a damper on our exercise routines. Depending on where you live, the lack of vitamin D from the sun can increase weight gain by hindering fat breakdown and increasing fat storage. Also, more indoor time may lead to increased snacking or over-eating.

Here are some do-able solutions to start right away!
  1. Have an indoor plan for exercise and get moving! Put a plan together of when and what you are going to do to keep active. There are many phone apps, YouTube videos and DVDs to keep you moving at home when the weather or darkness kicks in.  Have a goal of including 30 minutes, 5 days per week!
  2. Keep the cravings out of the house! Snack on citrus fruits, which can strengthen your immune system to fight illness through the winter. Peppers, tomatoes and kiwi are also a good source of vitamin C.
  3. Discuss taking vitamin D3 with your doctor. Most of us need a boost in the winter, so taking 1000 to 2000 IU daily can fill the need. Also, include foods that are a good source of vitamin D such as fatty fish (salmon, tuna and halibut), milk, yogurt, eggs and fortified foods.
  4. Get enough sleep! Don’t fight the feeling—your body needs at least seven to eight hours per night. Sleep rejuvenates, energizes and replenishes the body. It is also known to help keep our metabolism up and fight food cravings. Get those ZZZs!
  5. Make soups. They are warm, comforting and delicious! Keep them healthy by using broth based options with extra vegetables and protein to fill you up. Skip the noodles and add beans for an extra protein and fiber boost! Most soups make enough for extra to use for lunch or dinner the next day. Make your own on the weekend when you have more time and enjoy it throughout the week!
Kale, Lemon, & Quinoa Soup (serves 4)
  • 1 1/3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2/3 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 1/3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 2/3 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2/3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2/3 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 2/3 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 1/3 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/3 Tbs. fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 1/3 oz. feta cheese, crumble 
  • Prep
    • Chop onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme, kale, parsley, and chives.
  • Make
    • In a large pot, heat olive oil over low-medium heat. Sauté onions, garlic, carrots and celery until tender; about three to five minutes.
    • Add lemon zest, lemon juice, ground cumin, crushed red pepper, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
    • Add soy sauce, vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil.
    • Reduce to a simmer and add quinoa. Cook for 15 minutes.
    • Add kale and cook until wilted.
    • Pour soup into bowls and top with parsley, chives and feta.
    • Enjoy!
(Recipe by Living Plate)


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