A dietitian’s secret power-combo to avoid silly season weight gain

Dietitian and nutritionist Nicole Stride shares the how the powerful combination can help you stay focused on your healthy eating goals – no matter what the Christmas Day buffet might hold. 

My food philosophy involves enjoying the foods you love and sleeping more for wellbeing and weight loss. As a firm believer in incentivising healthy habits, WW (formerly Weight Watchers) aligns with my approach to healthy living.

Even just tracking your food intake and being more mindful at mealtimes helps to achieve your health goals.

Reducing the hangry and increasing the zzz’s resonates strongly with our members.

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Eating smaller meals at regular intervals throughout the day is a great mindset to adopt.

Having a balanced approach that incorporates more sleep, coupled with healthy foods and some discretionary foods is key – you’d be surprised what a slice of pavlova, a glass of bubbles or that sleep in does for motivation and long-term success!

Just including one serve (one cup) of non-starchy vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, broccoli or spinach will have a ton of health benefits thanks to their fibre, vitamin, and mineral content.

Also, heading to bed half an hour earlier, meeting a daily water goal, and moving more means you don’t have to miss out on some of the joys of the silly season. These small daily actions saw one WW member Alex Bell transform her unhealthy lockdown habits into a 30kg weight loss.

If you want to maintain your weight over summer, these are my top tips:

Prioritise better sleep (and more of it)

While there are multiple factors that link sleep to body weight, consistently poor sleep has been shown to cause a spike in cortisol – a stress hormone, and ghrelin – a hunger hormone. The rise in cortisol levels may signal the body to conserve energy in the form of fat.

Ghrelin increases your appetite, meaning you’re more likely to overeat and potentially crave high-fat and high-sugar foods in order to feel satisfied. So, getting a good night’s sleep, every night, can make the weight loss process that bit easier.

Watch what you drink before bed

It’s a good idea to limit your caffeine intake in the evening as this acts as a stimulant and can make it harder to fall asleep. Alcohol also impacts sleep, and whilst you may think alcohol helps you fall asleep, it actually throws off your sleep cycle, meaning you’re more likely to wake during the night and have poor quality sleep.

The best kind of pre-bed snack

Whilst a balanced diet is best for getting a good night’s sleep, this doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all your favourite snacks. Dark chocolate contains serotonin and tryptophan, which both help regulate sleep.

Pair it with some nuts like almonds, pistachios or walnuts for a powerful sleep-promoting combo. These nuts contain magnesium and calcium to help promote muscle relaxation and sleep.

Try more tryptophans

While there’s no one food that will improve your sleep on its own, there are many that may help when eaten as part of a balanced diet. For example, eating tryptophan-rich foods, such as fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, tofu and cheese, helps create serotonin and melatonin—which are involved in regulating sleep.

Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, such as oily varieties of fish, like salmon, may also help improve sleep quality as they help regulate your sleep cycle.

Nicole Stride is a qualified dietitian and nutritionist at WW, (formerly Weight Watchers), in Australia and New Zealand. She holds a BHealthSc (human movement) and MSc (nutr & diet).

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