Best foods to help you to stay healthy this winter
It’s tempting to stock up on sweets and stodge when the temperature drops.
Instead, stay well with our 5 top tips for eating healthily in the colder months:
1. Eat seasonally
Fruit and veg that has been grown locally and recently harvested will be fresher and more nutritious, as it’s spent less time in storage or transit. It is often cheaper too. In November and December, root vegetables such as high-fibre parsnips and beetroot (rich in vitamin B) have been harvested. Celeriac (a source of potassium) and pumpkin (with its high vitamin C content) are two other healthy root vegetables. For a great source of energy, roast chunks of veg slowly in some in olive oil with rosemary for a warming high-fibre meal. Venison is also in season at the end of the year and is a low-fat and iron-rich meat that contains omega 3 fats. For more in-season ingredients see here.
2. Stock up on frozen fruit
Sticking to the seasons is a good tip. However, if you want to eat soft fruit in winter without breaking the bank, buying it frozen is a good option. You can add frozen summer berries to cholesterol-reducing porridge or to a breakfast smoothie.
3. Switch to healthier puds
While working through a ‘sharing bag’ of sweets on the sofa might be tempting when it’s grey outside, why not experiment with healthier desserts instead? Stewed or roasted fruit can hit the sweet spot without piling on the pounds. Alternatively, make a simple reduced-sugar fruit crumble or a healthy pudding from the NHS Change4Life. Diabetes UK also has plenty of healthier treats. Or just try to keep sweet and dessert portions small to avoid unhealthy weight gain.
4. Top up your vitamin D
From October to March you are unlikely to get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the UK. Its role in regulating your body’s calcium levels and supporting bone health makes it a must-have. It is found in mushrooms, fortified drinks or tofu. Oily fish (salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel or fresh tuna), red meat, liver or egg yolks also contain the vitamin. The NHS advises that people may wish to take a daily Vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter.
5. Bulk out with grains and pulses
Soups and casseroles are fabulous winter warmers. You can bulk out these dishes with grains such as barley or oats to help lower your cholesterol. Pulses such as lentils or beans will increase your fibre intake. Shop-bought soups tend to be salt-laden so why not make your own, like Katie Peck’s Moroccan red lentil soup below.
Katie’s Moroccan red lentil soup (serves 2-3)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large carrots
2 stalks celery
2 cloves garlic
175g red split lentils
1.25l chicken stock
Juice of ½ lemon or lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Harissa paste or chilli hot sauce to taste
Chop the vegetables and crush the garlic. Sweat them in olive oil until soft (10 minutes or so on low heat). Add the lentils and chicken stock. Bring to the boil slowly and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked. Add the lemon or lime juice, salt, pepper and harissa to taste. Cool, blend and slowly reheat until hot enough. Serve with coriander, a little grated cheese (optional) and wholegrain toast.
Katie Peck works with people going through weight-loss surgery at Benenden Hospital and Peck Nutrition