During the winter months, it’s hard to find the motivation to eat healthier. The warmer weather for many is a key influence in eating fresh fruits and salads and as soon as the colder, darker weather arrives many just head straight for comfort foods.
At Health Shield, we are keen on ensuring everyone stays healthy all year round, so we have looked at some of the ways that you can have a healthy winter diet but not let it affect your mood. After all, what we eat is largely linked to how we feel and we all want to do what we can to avoid those winter illnesses.
One key ingredient throughout the year is water. Though maybe not the first drink you go for in the cold weather, it is important to keep you hydrated and healthy. Why not try adding a slice of fresh lemon or lime for extra taste avoiding those added artificial flavours and sugars in squash — it’ll help you fight fatigue too!
Did you know that even sleep is affected by the foods you eat? Cutting down on caffeine and eating a lighter evening meal can help boost the quality of sleep you get. Whilst a higher copper intake from foods like chicken, bananas, sliced avocado or half a baked potato, can also help you catch more hours each night.
After having a good night’s sleep, it’s time to start the day with a healthy winter breakfast. Eggs, porridge oats or homemade smoothies are the best things you can have for your most important meal of the day, they are filled with vitamins and fibre which can help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and helps you feel fuller for longer.
If a cooked breakfast is something you can’t live without, there is a way to help make it that bit healthier and have a less negative affect on your body. Instead of frying swap to grilling or microwave, use lean sausages and avoid too much bacon to keep your salt intake down. Perhaps try your baked beans or mushrooms on toast instead using wholemeal, brown or rye bread.
As an overview, take a look at some of the readily available foods over winter that will help improve your mood and health throughout the next few months before heading into spring.
- Cabbage, onions, carrots, leeks, parsnips and cauliflower are all great fresh vegetables and can be used to accompany a meal or put together to have a hearty vegetable soup or stew. They all have their individual health benefits too — cabbage is loaded with vitamins and minerals, onions are high in vitamin C, carrots contain a number of healthy vitamins and parsnips provide you with fibre as well as potassium and vitamin C and folate.
- Potatoes are a great winter vegetable providing you with great nutrition like potassium, folic acid, and protein but remember to go easy if you make mashed potato — the additional butter/cream makes it that bit more unhealthy. Alternatively you could swap to sweet potato for a healthier choice which you could try roasting with pumpkin, butternut squash and marrow as a seasonal medley.
- If you get peckish during the day, don’t reach for the sugary treats that the supermarkets may be stocking up on for the festive season, pick up a satsuma instead for a boost of vitamin C. The citrus fruit can help lower your risk of ailments like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, Diabetes and Crohn’s disease. If citrus fruits aren’t for your taste buds, try pomegranate and kale in a salad instead. You’ll be giving yourself a whole list of nutrients in these two ingredients alone providing you with some big health benefits such as helping to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure and digestive aids.
Taking the steps to a healthy winter doesn’t need to be daunting. Take it one step at a time if it is new to you. Try introducing a healthy snack a day, a salad a week, a healthy home cooked meal 2–3 days a week, and even home-made soup for lunch at work. You’ll be surprised how easy it is and the difference it can make to your health and wellbeing.
The winter can be a challenge, but eating healthily doesn’t need to be one of them. Remember, if you are a Health Shield health cash plan member you have access to PERKS where you can get great offers and cashback on your weekly food shop and gyms to help you stay fit and healthy. You may also have access to the online health assessments and a personal coaching benefit where you can get diet information amongst other personal coaching tools. Please refer to your Health Shield health cash plan for more information.