It's no coincidence that it's at this time of year, every year, that we most crave stodgy foods

According to experts, the lack of sunlight during winter causes a dip in serotonin levels, a brain chemical that regulates appetite.

Couple this with freezing temperatures, seasonal celebrations and less time spent in the saddle, and it’s no surprise most of us enter spring with more padding than intended.

To help you avoid spending next spring fighting a seasonal half-stone weight-gain, here’s our foolproof guide to staying slim during winter.

When it comes to junk food, resistance is futile. The cakes are staring you in the face. So, to give yourself the best chance of success, you need to detox your kitchen cupboards.

Start by removing biscuits, sweets, sugary cereals and refined carbohydrates. If you can’t bear to bin them, donate to colleagues or at the very least, move them into covered containers and out 
of eyesight.

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Although it seems obvious, research shows that the visibility and proximity of food influences our consumption.

In one study, office workers consumed four times as many chocolates when they were placed in a clear bowl close to 
their desk compared to when they were in an opaque container two metres away.

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Once you’ve removed the junk, it’s time to fill your shelves with healthy staples. Stock up on tinned pulses (such as black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and lentils), tinned tomatoes, canned oily fish, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, coconut milk, cocoa powder and plenty of antioxidant-rich warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, chilli, garlic and turmeric.

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There’s strong evidence to suggest that low levels of serotonin increase our desire for carbohydrate-rich foods, as these stimulate serotonin production.

To satisfy your cravings, opt for slow-release carbohydrates such as steel-cut oats, brown, basmati and wild rice, oatcakes, polenta, quinoa, rice noodles, rye and wholegrain breads and buckwheat pasta.

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