Comfort food doesn’t have to be unhealthy.
The cold of winter has repercussions beyond the cost of heating your home and the clothes you wear. The energy you have, the speed at which you burn calories, and the foods you choose may all shift as your body goes through these transitions.
Do you respond to subzero temperatures by ditching your workout plans and convince yourself that you deserve a calorie binge to help you feel better? No one feels as alone as you do right now.
Unfortunately, poor eating habits should not be abandoned just because the weather is bad. You shouldn’t gorge on hot chocolate and cookies just because it’s winter; it would be like eating nothing but ice cream during the heat of July (no matter how tempting it sounds).
As registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, MS, RD, CSOWN, LD puts it, “winterizing your diet can be healthy — and delightful” if you include a few favourite cold-weather items.
Healthy foods to eat during winter
The following foods are not only good for you, but they may also improve your disposition. Psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, puts in her vitamin D-rich faves, to Czerwony’s choices, below.
1. Root Vegetables
Local vegetables might be hard to find when winter weather strikes. However, root crops such as beets, carrots, and turnips are hard enough to survive in the cold, allowing local farmers to provide you with fresh food. To increase your intake of beta-carotene, try roasting some carrots, or boil some turnips to get your daily dose of vitamins C and A.
2. Vitamin D-rich Foods
Incorporating vitamin D-rich foods into your diet is the most important thing you can do for your health this winter. Dr. Albers notes that those whose anxiety and sadness worsen throughout the autumn are those who engage in greater emotional eating at that time.
She suggests shiitake mushrooms as a healthy way to get your vitamin D. Salmon, egg yolks, cereals with added vitamins, milk, and red meat are some more healthy alternatives.
Oatmeal is a great source of nutrients that are especially important in the colder months, and it makes for a quick and easy breakfast. Warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg add flavour to oatmeal without contributing any extra calories, fat, sugar, or salt. Oatmeal has a lot of soluble fibre and the mineral zinc, which helps your immune system (associated with heart health). Instant oatmeal may be more convenient, but it also costs more. If you’re trying to eat healthily without breaking the bank, try some traditional oats.
It’s cold outside, so soup is a great meal, but avoid adding any heavy ingredients like cream, salt, or steak. Try to find soup recipes that include a lot of veggies and use either chicken stock, vegetable broth, or water as the basis. Including beans or lentils, either canned or dry, in your soup is an easy way to increase the amount of protein and fibre in your meal without adding any unwanted fat. Both protein and fibre may help you feel full faster, which is useful for managing your hunger and maintaining your mood. Add some grains to your meal by eating 100% whole grain crackers with your soup.
5. Mood Boosting Snacks
Emotional eating and cravings are prevalent throughout this time of year. Consuming too many processed and sugary foods might have a negative impact on your mood over time. As an alternative, Dr. Albers suggests eating more sweet potatoes, beets, and walnuts. Another option is spicy roasted chickpeas.
6. Immune Boosting Choices
Dr. Albers believes the foods you consume have an effect on more than just your mood and sleep; they may also affect your immune system.
Increasing your intake of vitamin C-rich foods is a great way to strengthen your immune system and improve your mood. She recommends eating “items rich in lycopene,” which may be found in citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, and strawberries.
7. Spicy Tuna Roll
Sushi is a refreshing change from the usual fatty and sugary comfort meals. Pick rolls that have either tuna or salmon inside. Both of these foods are rich in vitamin D. Food sources of the bone-healthy vitamin become even more important throughout the winter months when you have limited exposure to the sun. Poor development, brittle bones, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease are all linked to insufficient vitamin D intake.
8. Broccoli and Cauliflower
These cruciferous veggies may be your best line of protection against winter illnesses besides the flu vaccine and frequent hand washing. Vitamin C, which is abundant in both broccoli and cauliflower, has been linked to better immune system health. Frozen broccoli and cauliflower are just as healthy as their fresh counterparts, so there’s no need to worry if you can’t locate them.
Why Eating Healthy in Winter Matters
Czerwony and Dr. Albers concur that making good food choices consciously may help one live a more stress-free existence. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of making wholesale changes to your diet, try swapping out one snack at a time. Remember that the seasons will always change!