Winter Foods and a Guide to a Healthy Winter Diet

Let’s be honest, winter is one of the hardest times of year to prioritise your health and fitness. Colder temperatures make you want to curl up on a sofa with some unhealthy snacks instead of reaching for the shopping list. Whilst it is easier to have a healthy and more balanced diet in the summer months, it’s especially important to think about eating the right food in winter to boost your immune system and support your general well-being to fight common colds and coughs.

There are  many simple and straightforward ways to include nutritious food into your diet this winter without compromising on comfort or taste. These easy choices will keep you feel fuller and warmer for longer and well-nourished during the colder months of the year.

Here are a few of the effective dietary choices you can make to keep you feeling healthier and more energised this winter:

  • Introduce more fibre into your diet.
  • Add more spices to your meals.
  • Consume more winter warming drinks the colder days of winter.

Fibre is your best friend

It’s natural to crave more stodgier food in colder weather due to our survival instincts kicking in and stimulating the urge to fuel up on more calorie-dense foods, to keep us feeling warmer for longer.

The term ‘comfort eating’ also comes into play here, as eating heavier food when our bodies feel the chill a bit more and we are psychologically dealing with ‘winter blues’, may provide us with a sense of comfort.

There is nothing wrong with providing your body with that sense of comfort and treating yourself occasionally, however, when you feel the urge to eat something a bit heartier, try your best to go for foods that are also rich in fibre. Such as:

  • Potatoes with skin on
  • Wholegrains
  • Oats
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Brown rice

Fibre is an essential food group when you are feeling that extra pinch of hunger as it is friendly to your gut by feeding the healthy bacteria that sits there, encouraging regular bowel movements. Eating a diet which includes a good number of fibre-rich foods can really support your immune health and digestion. Also, eating fibre can also help you feel fuller for a lot longer, minimising the feeling of unhealthy cravings.

A great way to start the day on a cold winter’s morning is with a fibre-rich breakfast, such as grains, oats, fruits, seeds, and beans. This is one of the easiest ways to boost your fibre intake and kick start your day!

Spice up your supper

Winter is a great time to get creative in the kitchen by spicing up your meals with some delicious additional spices. This is also a really simple and effective way to boost your health whilst enjoying some tasty meals.

Spices have great health benefits, for example, turmeric is great for helping prevent heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. It is also a powerful antioxidant which means its effective at protecting your cells against damage.

Garlic and ginger also contain antimicrobial properties, meaning they can destroy harmful microorganisms such as viruses. They can also lower the risk of infection, perfect for cold and flu season!

Welcome winter warmers

Winter and Autumn are the seasons for pumpkin spiced lattes and hot flavoured mochas, and while they are delicious and comforting on a cold and miserable day, they are also extremely high in calories and packed with sugar and fat.

A great alterative to these high-calorie drinks is fuelling up on healthy hot drinks that warm your organs from the inside, boosting circulation and metabolism.

We’ve already mentioned the health benefits of ginger, so why not give a fresh ginger tea a try first thing in the morning. Another great healthy hot drink to kick start your day is hot lemon, which contains many health benefits and is wonderfully warming and refreshing. Some of the main health benefits of drinking lemon water are:

  • Promotes hydration
  • Helps control weight gain
  • Prevents kidney stones
  • Reduced the risk of cancer
  • Improves digestive health

One important thing to note during the winter months is how much water we consume on a daily basis. As we aren’t sweating as much as we do in the summer, we often forget how much water we are losing, but it is just as important to stay hydrated in the colder months than it is in summer. It is suggested by the NHS that we should be drinking six to eight glasses of water a day during the cold winter, so consuming a few healthy winter warmers can help reach this daily goal.

Prioritise your health this winter

The winter months can be difficult enough to deal with given the shorter days of sunlight, increased isolation due to colder weather and higher stress levels with the cost of living. That’s why it is so important to prioritise your health and wellbeing during this time of year.

Eating more fibre-heavy and spiced up meal plan can also help eliminate digestive issues and promote good gut health. If you are experiencing gut issues after making these changes, however, it may be due to a food intolerance that you are yet to identify. If this is the case, it may be worth doing a food intolerance test to get rid off the issue as soon as possible.

By making some simple changes to your eating habits and eating a healthy diet this winter, you are giving yourself a much better chance of staying in good health and feeling more positive as you welcome in a New Year, fit and ready to go!

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