The days are warmer and longer and we are starting to shed the cumbersome layers of clothing that winter imposed on us. We are also realising there was more than clothing layers added during the colder months.. Eek! Somehow those summer shorts of yester year aren't as flattering as we remember.

Winter weight gain is normal and easily remedied if we follow the natural ebb and flow with the seasons. We gain weight during those dark days to protect our bodies against the cold and also partly emotionally as we go inward and hibernate. Be gentle with yourself and remember this is a natural cycle and so is shedding these extra pounds now.

The best way to do this is to eat seasonally. This is something I strongly believe in and is the number one contributor to my spring/summer weight loss. If in doubt as to which are seasonal make sure you're getting produce that's local or at least grown in this country. There's nothing like going to the market and feasting your eyes on all those vibrant colours and then turning them into a light and nutritious meal as we also usually don't want to eat those heavy and high carb meals in the warmer weather.

Foods high in fibre create a prolonged feeling of fullness. These are things like sprouts (which I spoke about last month), beans, wholegrain and wholemeal including brown or wholegrain rice. Keep your finger on the pulses such as beans, chickpeas and lentils which are full of fibre, high in protein and in low fat. Nuts but remember almonds, pecans, and walnuts have more fibre than other nuts. Dried fruit, if fresh fruit isn’t available, offers a fibre-full snack. A 50g portion of dried figs is 4g fibre. To count as high-fibre food, it has to contain at least 6g of fibre per 100g. A 30g bowl of bran flakes delivers 4g of fibre. Porridge is made from oats which are a great source of fibre. Fruit and vegetables, at least 5-a-day portions and the crunchier, the better. A medium-sized apple alone is 2g fibre. (Holdford, 2004)

Foods that speed up the metabolism, which means they are helping your body burn off more calories for less work and are great for weight loss such as egg whites which are rich in branched-chain amino acids, which keep your metabolism stoked.

Foods full of iron; deficiencies in the mineral can slow metabolism. Eat three to four daily servings of iron-rich foods, such as pumpkin seeds, parsley, nuts and seeds and beans and dark leafy greens. About 20 percent of women are iron deficient, which is bad news for your waistline because your body can't work as efficiently to burn calories when it's missing what it needs to work properly. One cup of lentils provides 35 percent of your daily iron needs. (Holford, 2004)

I know we hear this next one so often but it really is essential…Water.

“If you're even mildly dehydrated, your metabolism may slow down,” says Scott Isaacs, MD, clinical instructor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Tip: Drink water cold, which forces your body to use more calories to warm it up.

Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical compound that can kick metabolism into higher gear, Dr. Isaacs says. You could add a sprinkle of cayenne to lemon water in the morning for a cleansing boost.

Green tea or matcha, not only does the caffeine speed up your system but the brew contains a plant compound called EGCG, which promotes fat-burning, research suggests. These also have high levels of antioxidants that protect our cells against damage.

So I hope these tips help you get your summer beach body ready but remember to be gentle with your body and keep it as simple as, you need to burn off more than you put in to stay trim so why not go for a park run or walk in the evening now that we have so many more hours of light. This will not only help you curb some curve but exercise also helps relieve stress and tension. Woohoo!

Holford, P. (2004) The Optimum Nutrition Bible: The book you have to read if you care about your health. Piatkus: London.

By Amber Petersen from amberskettle.com

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