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The weather outside may be frightful, but your diet doesn’t have to be..!

Staying Strong Despite the Lessening Sun

 As the temperature continues to drop, people become increasingly challenged to maintain a healthy diet. On a chilly day, it’s tempting to curl up on the couch with a bowl of canned (salty!) soup or a big bowl of chocolate pudding. 

Salads and steamed veggies just don’t quite cut it in winter. Fortunately, there are ways to get that sense of a soul satisfying comfort meal without the pudge. Soups are an obvious choice, but baked pasta dishes with loads of veges can also be great for the diet conscious, as can rice dishes such as risottos; substituting high-fat cheeses with flavour enhancers such as stock, herbs, spices, wild mushrooms or porcini powder.

Baked potatoes are a surprisingly satisfying and healthy meal if you stuff them with healthy toppings such as baked beans (great for protein), salsa and creamed corn, low-fat ricotta, cream cheese or cottage cheese and chives or other herbs, hummus or yoghurt and ratatouille.

If you feel yourself reaching for the sugar laden, fat filled comfort foods, try to substitute for healthier options.  For instance, if you need a warm, cozy beverage on a cold, dreary day, why not try a sugar-free hot chocolate with low-fat or fat-free whipped topping.

Another lesser-known reason that healthy eating can be so difficult in the winter is the lack of sunlight. As the hours of sunshine diminish, we get less exposure to vitamin D, which can lead to a drop in our ‘feel good’ hormone, serotonin. That drop can cause depression and food cravings. Therefore, it is advised that you try to spend a little time outdoors during the day or sit close to a window during the day if you can. Sunshine is the best natural source of vitamin D, so during a dark winter, you may want to consider supplements of this vitamin, which has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon, breast, and ovarian cancers.

When it gets cooler, and we stay in doors more, we also expose ourselves to more germs, which encourage the development of coughs and colds.  While nothing can completely prevent falling ill, a healthy immune system can help ward off the germs that cause colds and the flu. A healthy immune system can even minimise a cold’s duration. One way to boost the immune system is to maintain a vitamin C regimen.  So make sure any warm winter soups you prepare during the colder months contain plenty of veges.

By following these few simple tips, you will help yourself stay slim and strong while avoiding the winter blues. 

The original version of this blog post, including any original comments, is available here.

About Emma Williams

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