Healthy Eating in Winter

How to stay on track when the weather turns

As the last of the warm weather begins to subside and the nights begin to draw in, it can be tempting to reach for comfort foods and let our healthy summer habits go to pot. As we pack away the swimwear and reach for winter jumpers, motivation to stay on track can dwindle and even the most established healthy eating efforts can be derailed. 

It's even more important in winter however, to maintain a healthy balanced diet, to boost your immune system and support your mental health through the long, dark nights ahead. Keep reading for our top tips on keeping on-track this Autumn.

Eat the Rainbow

Eating your five a day, in all the colours of the rainbow, remains a helpful vehicle to health and wellbeing. Seasonal offerings will vary, of course, and local fresh produce can become harder to source. But it is still possible to continue eating a wide range of fruit and veg through the winter months – not every meal until spring needs to revolve around potatoes and onions. Cabbage, kale, butternut squash, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and celeriac are just some examples of vegetables which are bursting with nutrition and in season throughout the autumn and winter. Don’t be afraid of frozen veg either. Sometimes they can be more nutritious than their fresh counterparts and they last better, reducing waste.

Winter Salads

The end of summer doesn’t have to mean waving goodbye to salads. Whilst a crispy light Caesar might understandably tickle your fancy more in the warmer weather there are plenty of salads that will be more appealing come autumn. You can try warm salads with lentils and autumnal veg. Try this list of winter salads for inspiration.

Soups are you friend

When it comes to cramming in your five a day and keeping toasty warm in winter, soups are a winner. You can meal prep them well in advance and easily keep them warm in a flask until lunch. If you’re not feeling organised enough to make your own, there are lots of brands out there making premade, wholesome soups, just look out for those made as fresh as possible and without additives.

Up your Vitamin D intake

Vitamin D is one nutrient the experts agree is a vital part of your winter diet. People have a reduced ability to make Vitamin D in winter when they go outside, so supplementing from food or supplements helps maintain summer levels. Vitamin D is important because it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are vital to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Supplementing can be through food sources such as oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, red meat, liver and egg yolks. Alternatively supplement tablets can be taken. There is some variation in experts’ recommendations on how much though. The NHS website suggests ‘everyone (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.’.

Make Fruit work for winter

Whilst smoothies and fruit salads might be the last thing you want to reach for when the temperatures drop, fruit doesn’t need to go off the menu.

If you’re craving something sweet and trying to avoid reaching for the chocolate, try popping some frozen fruit mixes of berries in the microwave and toping with natural yoghurt and some honey for extra sweetness.

Stew, puree and poach your favourite fruits to turn them into winter treats. Stewed apples with a sprinkle of cinnamon on porridge in the morning can also be a great kick start to a winter day.

Don’t get dehydrated

Whilst you might associate dehydration with hot and sweaty summer days and over-exerting in the heat, you can still become dehydrated in winter. Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t have enough liquid to function properly and it can affect many aspects of your health. A long, cold, hydrating drink tends to lose its appeal a little when the mercury drops, which can leave many of us dehydrated and confusing the sensation of thirst for hunger. Experts recommend around 8 glasses of water a day which can include some hot drinks to keep you hydrated and feeling warm and full, like tea, or even just hot water with lemon. Check out our Healthy and Hydrated blog post for more on the subject.

 

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