Daylight diminishes and chilly days escalate during this particular season. Some people adore the colder weather, while others despise it.
Winter is the time of the year that provokes different feelings. Staying warm and snugly in front of a fireplace with delicious and comforting food to indulge in and spoil our senses with are definitely on top of most people’s list. It is also a time when our eating habits tend to change drastically and we start losing our sense of prioritising our body and health in terms of diet and exercise.
Healthy eating is important, not only for weight management, but our overall health as well. And it appears that as soon as winter strikes - or at least that first cold front - all our motivation and hard work of healthy eating that we built up during the summer months fly out the window.
This does not only just affect our weight as mentioned, but can also influence our immune system. And we know that it is quite common to catch flu or a cold when our immune systems are compromised.
So in order to stay on track with our eating habits throughout the entire year, there are definitely a few points to keep in mind and apply to our lives.
It is very evident that cravings increase during winter and sometimes controlling those cravings are extremely difficult for many people; especially those aiming to lose weight.
A great tip is to eat something comforting, but in a healthy form. In other words, have a warm and comforting meal or snack, but a healthy option. A few examples are stews, potato spuds (protein and vegetables fillings), protein-based dishes (crust-less quiche, egg based-dishes) and soups. All these will definitely give your body a warm hug, but there won’t be any feelings of guilt afterwards.
Appetite goes hand-in-hand with cravings. Our appetite seems to increase and we feel hungry almost constantly. The best way to control this, is to have regular meals (three main meals and two snacks) in between. But obviously they should be healthy and nutritious. Protein-rich foods and healthy fats should be included at our meals, as these foods tend to keep us full for longer.
Thank goodness there is such a thing as a healthy fat. And in winter-time, avocados are the rage. They are in season and can be enjoyed on warm whole-wheat toast as either a meal or a snack. It has also become popular to include avo’s at breakfast with an egg dish.
It is a given that our water intake decreases during winter as our body doesn’t lose as much fluid as in summer. We also don’t particularly like drinking colder liquids as this also cools down our body temperatures.
But water is still extremely important even when it is 16⁰C outside. It hydrates our skin, which tends to be drier now; it boosts our metabolism and energy levels and can certainly assist with weight loss.
Luke-warm water can be taken with a slice of lemon and mint (it honestly makes it easier to drink) and it tastes lovely.
Another option is to have rooibos or herbal teas without sugar and milk. This will also count towards our daily “fluid” intake. Be cautious of hot drinks containing lots of sugars and dairy creamers as these are extremely high in calories. A healthier hot chocolate can be enjoyed when made at home with cacao, artificial sweetener and skimmed/low fat milk. Spiced chai tea is also a fantastic way to warm up and curb cravings.
It is noticeable in the shops that the variety of fruits and vegetables decrease during winter, but this shouldn’t affect our food choices at all. It is very important that we include fruits and vegetables in our diet every single day. Stewed fruits (without sugar added) can be enjoyed and many vegetables can be added to stews, potjies, soups and one pot meals to boost our vitamin, mineral and fibre intake. And as mentioned before, we should keep our immune system at its optimum level to decrease our risk for catching illness.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is to remain as active as possible. Prioritise your activity and try to exercise at least three to four days per week for 30-45 minutes. Shorter days should be no excuse as exercise can be done indoors doing both cardio and resistance training. Join a fitness group/bootcamp/gym/crossfit box to boost your motivation. And try to stick to this. You will be pleasantly surprised in summer.
Healthy eating is crucial and it should be sustained during all seasons of the year - no matter what the temperature may be.
Stay warm this winter and enjoy a delicious wholesome stew and low-fat hot cacao in front of the fireplace; all snuggled up after your work-out.