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It's cold, rainy and you have the sniffles.

Hello, comfort food; goodbye, exercise until September.

Unfortunately, too many of us think this way. And it's simply not healthy.

The Australian public is estimated to put on 15 million kilos this winter, according to a recent NSW Food Authority study.

More than half of males surveyed expected a 2-5kg gain, as did 38 per cent of women.

Gen Ys were the most susceptible, with 44 per cent reporting winter weight gain.

There are benefits besides preventing weight gain to encourage healthy eating and remain active.

For one, to keep illness at bay.

Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that physically fit people are less likely to experience colds than those who are less fit and active, and their colds will be milder too.

Dietitians Association of Australia dietitian Kate Di Prima said building the immune system with good healthy food would also keep colds and flu bugs away.

Eating zinc-rich foods, such as lean red meat, fish, poultry, wholegrain cereals, legumes, nuts and dairy foods would help.

As would ensuring your diet was full of a colourful range of fruit and vegetables.

Ms Di Prima singled out those high in vitamin C such as citrus fruits, capsicum and broccoli.

The DAA also suggested upping the amount of omega-3 fats in the diet to combat a low winter mood.

This included two to three serves each week, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna.

You should also choose omega-3 enriched eggs over the regular kind, and add ground flaxseed to breakfast cereals.