The chilly damp weather arouses the nesting instinct in most of us, drawing us to the warmth of indoors to enjoy our favourite comfort foods. Temperatures dip and we crave those carbohydrate-rich foods like spaghetti, mashed potatoes or anything warm, saucy and delicious (like mac n’ cheese).

Over the winter months most Canadians will pack on an extra 6 pounds (2.72kg). We eat more and move less, which always spells weight gain. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the winter bulge and emerge fitter when the sun comes out again.

Make a pot of fresh soup once a week just like your Mom used to. Have it for lunch and have some again before dinner. It will warm you, fill you and reduce your appetite. It’s also nutritious.

Reduce calories in your favourite comfort food by substituting high fat ingredients with lower fat ones. Try low fat cheese with macaroni or lean ground turkey in your chili. If it’s ice cream you crave, try a low fat sherbet.

The best way not to over-indulge in high calorie snacking is simply not to have any handy. Simple but highly effective. Instead try slicing up apples, baking them and add them to low-fat yogurt with walnuts and sunflower seeds. Try a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, topped with fruit and low-fat yogurt. Don’t forget popcorn but try to resist that urge to slather it with butter and coat it with salt. Keep dried fruit on hand for a quick, healthy energy boost.

So many people skip meals and then wonder why they are ravenous at dinner time. This is when overeating is most likely to happen. Make sure you eat three balanced meals a day and have a couple of healthy snacks to keep your blood sugar stable and your appetite in check.

That’s when you’ll eat every appetizer that comes your way and you’ll eat far too much dinner. Before you go have a bowl of soup (yes, we are pushing the soup idea). This will make you feel sated and you’ll still enjoy what is being served, but in moderation. Drink water.

Everyone’s activity level will drop over the winter months but resist letting yours come to a grinding halt. You can still get to the gym with a little internal push. A walk in the rain isn’t so bad either. West coast rain is generally light and pleasant to walk in. No excuses. Your body will thank you.

Every once in awhile, indulge yourself. You deserve a treat.

Come on into Tru Value Foods and check out our low-fat products, whole grains and low calorie snacks. We’ve got plenty of good things in stock. We’re trying to fight the bulge, just like you are.