Four Ways To Avoid Winter Weight Gain

1) Beware of beverages.

During fall and winter months, there are lots of warm, cozy beverages options to choose from. But most popular drinks also contain hundreds of extra calories! For example, a grande pumpkin spice latte contains 380 calories (and a whopping 13 grams of fat!). And eggnog has as many as 400 calories per cup! Even hot chocolate can be packed with hundreds of calories due to flavored syrups, whole milk and whipped cream.

Drinking tea, black coffee and sparkling water can save hundreds of calories a day! There are also lots of fun holiday mocktail recipes that shave off hundreds of calories from alcohol that causes lots of Americans to gain winter weight.

2) Substitute healthy snacks for sweets.

Another reason so many people gain weight is because there are lots of extra sweets around during the holidays! Pies, cookies, cakes and breads seem to be everywhere, starting with Thanksgiving and lasting past New Years. (And that’s not even counting all the candy sitting around from Halloween!) It’s easy to grab whatever’s close when you’re in the mood for
a snack. But reaching for sweets can translate to lots of extra holiday pounds. Instead, keep healthy snacks like sliced fruit, hummus and vegetables or skim cheese sticks on hand so you can substitute nutritious options for high-sugar, high-fat, high-calorie temptations.

3) Find indoor ways to stay active.

When it’s rainy and blustery and dark outside, it’s hard to find the motivation to go for a walk or a run or take the kids to the park to run around. Sedentary winter activities often replace physical activity, which is another common reason people gain weight in the winter. It’s important to find ways to stay active in the winter months to avoid unhealthy weight gain, and to combat seasonal affective disorder and fatigue that the low light of winter often causes. Of course joining a gym or yoga studio is a great option. In addition, there are free ways to incorporate exercise into your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk around your office during your coffee break instead of grabbing another donut, or go to the mall with a friend and get your 10,000 steps in after work (just be sure to avoid the food court!)

4) Eat at chez-vous.

More people go out to dinner during winter months than any other time of year. Researchers think it’s for several reasons. First, when it gets dark early, people experience more fatigue, which means they have less energy to cook. Also, people tend to crave their favorite comfort food when it’s cold, windy, rainy and snowy outside. Lastly, there’s less to do outside in winter months, so when families are looking for an activity, going out to dinner is a popular option.

While going out to eat can be a fun treat, eating at restaurants frequently leads to weight gain because restaurant food is notoriously high in calories, as well as saturated fat and sodium. Making healthy recipes at home (aka, chez-vous) is much more conducive to maintaining a healthy weight long-term. (It’s healthier for your budget, too!) And whether you’re with friends or a partner or your children, making dinner together can be a great way to add a new level of enjoyment to staying in for meals as you spend time and find deeper connection with loved ones -- which is what the holidays are all about.


At Golden Gate Urgent Care, our goal is to help patients be as happy and healthy as possible!
If you need us, make an appointment online or simply walk into any of our six Bay Area
locations, open seven days a week.

Sarah Thebarge MMSc, PA-C Sarah Thebarge earned her physician assistant degree at Yale School of Medicine, and then studied journalism at Columbia School of Journalism. She has been a physician assistant and a freelance journalist since 2004. In addition to caring for patients at Golden Gate Urgent Care, Sarah frequently volunteers her medical skills in the developing world. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, USA Today and National Geographic, and her blog was featured on She is the author of the memoir The Invisible Girls and the upcoming book WELL: Healing our Beautiful, Broken World from a Hospital in West Africa. She currently lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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