It's so easy, with the weather getting colder and the nights drawing in earlier, to veer off the weight loss track.

If, like us, you are already reaching for the cheese, pasta and chocolate, you may want to take a look at these top 10 ways to keep your weight in check from Izzy Cameron, nutrition and weight management specialist at Diet Chef.

These aren't just good foods and tips to lose weight either, Izzy highlights some of the immune-boosting and cancer-fighting properties.

apples

Apples
The nutrients found in apples can help prevent spikes in blood sugar and reduce the risk of a variety of chronic diseases. This fruit is in season during the autumn months and comes in a variety of flavours.

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Pears
Recent studies have shown that the skin of pears contains at least three to four times as many phenolic phytonutrients (essential compounds enhancing one’s health) as the fruit’s flesh. These phytonutrients include antioxidants, anti-inflammatory flavonoids, and potentially anti-cancer phytonutrients like cinnamic acids.

Winter squash
Butternut and Pumpkin are just a couple of varieties of winter squash which act as a natural accompaniment to autumn cuisine. Both rich flavour, and high in nutrients, winter squash one of the best buys of the season.

butternut squash

Cabbage
This seasonal vegetable has cholesterol-lowering benefits, and is also rich in fibre particularly when steamed.

Wild mushrooms
Mushrooms are really great to eat since they can help influence blood lipids, blood glucose, immunity, and weight control. They also offer many essential nutrients and antioxidants which the body needs.

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  • Change The Lightbulb

    In your dining area, swap out your bright, harsh lights (especially fluorescents) for a softer alternative -- like the new warm, white LED bulbs. When Cornell University researchers gave a fast-food restaurant a fine-dining makeover (a warmer glow along with soft jazz), <a href="http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/outreach/musiclight.html" target="_blank">diners lingered longer but ate 18 percent less of the fast-food offerings</a>. Bonus: They also relished their meal more.

  • Hang A Mirror In Your Kitchen

    Prevent yourself from overeating fatty foods by letting vanity (or at least self-awareness) work in your favor. "Something as simple as a mirror on a refrigerator" is all it takes, write researchers at Iowa State University. In their study, <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9885199" target="_blank">diners who ate in a room with a large mirror unknowingly consumed significantly less fatty food</a> (cream cheese) than those who weren’t forced to see themselves.

  • Choose A High-Contrast Plate

    Unconsciously, <a href="http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/research/summary-platecolor.html" target="_blank">you’ll serve yourself less food if the color of your plate is starkly different from its contents</a>. Cornell researchers found that buffet diners put 22 percent more pasta on their plates when the colors blended (pasta with tomato sauce on a reddish plate; pasta alfredo on a white plate).

  • Swap Out Your Utensils

    <a href="http://journal.sjdm.org/11/11213/jdm11213.pdf" target="_blank">Serve yourself less food than you think by using tongs</a> instead of a serving spoon. (Specifically, 16.5 percent less, found researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, who say that pinched food is harder to transfer.) Then <a href="http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/outreach/chinese-buffets.html" target="_blank">eat the food with chopsticks</a> -- a Cornell study found them to be used more than three times as often among normal-weight diners as obese ones at a Chinese food buffet. Chopsticks slow down food intake, giving the brain time to realize that your stomach is full -- before you’ve overeaten. These "nudges" are tiny, but over time, they add up to thousands of calories avoided.

  • Pour On Extra Olive Oil

    It sounds counterintuitive, but <a href="http://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/short/article/30517/" target="_blank">you’ll feel fuller and eat less</a> later in the day, advise researchers at Technische Universität München and the University of Vienna who compared the daily calorie consumption of people who ate various oil-enriched yogurts. Compared to other fats like lard, butterfat, or rapeseed oil, olive oil contains the highest amounts of two compounds, Hexanal and E2-Hexanal, that reduce glucose absorption in the liver. Note: Italian olive oil contains more of these diet-boosters than olive oil from any other country.

  • Eat Sweets In The Morning

    Further reduce carb cravings by adding a crucial side dish to your morning egg whites: <i>dessert</i>. In an eight-month study at Tel Aviv University, obese dieters who ate a small sweet -- a square of chocolate, a doughnut or a cookie -- with a protein-packed breakfast <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0039128X11003515" target="_blank">lost on average nearly 40 pounds more than a group who avoided sweets</a>. The double-punch combo of protein and carbs makes you feel fuller longer, and with fewer late-day cravings, increasing the chances that you’ll stick to your diet over the long term.

  • Stop Thinking About Exercise...

    ...because having a workout on your mind leads to hunger and overeating. A Cornell University study found that <a href="http://www.scientistlive.com/European-Science-News/Medical/Exercise_suppresses_appetite/21391/" target="_blank">people primed with an exercise scenario served themselves 55 percent more snacks than those whose thoughts were focused elsewhere</a>. While physical exertion suppresses the appetite in the short term (but doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss over the long term), thinking about it triggers the brain to crave calories.

Pomegranates
Considered the ‘jewel of the autumn’ Pomegranates are a rich source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibres. It is also a good source of Vitamin C.

Root vegetables
All different kinds of root vegetables are great – carrots, turnips and swede for example are real nutritional stars in both autumn and winter. Tasty beetroots are also great as they are jam-packed with Folate, Vitamin C and Magnesium.


exercising winter

Keep exercising
As soon as the nights start to get darker, our motivation to keep as active as we were in the summer months begins to wane. Try not to give into the sofa too soon though, and look for alternative ways to keep moving and burn those calories, such as a new exercise DVD or a local exercise class.

Keep an eye on cosy comfort food calories
As we start eating fewer salads and opt for more warming, hearty foods, people’s portion size tends to increase as well. Since this is also the time we start to reach for jumpers and cosy clothes, as well as become less active, the extra pounds gained from increased food consumption can slowly and steadily creep on. Enjoy the change in season; just be conscious of portion size.

Don’t forget to drink (water that is!)
When it’s warmer in the summer months we consciously drink more water. But when it starts to get cooler we don’t consider this as much. Drinking water helps keep skin hydrated and looking good. It maintains the body’s balance of fluids, but also helps keep calories in check as often we confuse hunger with thirst.