Our dietary and nutritional requirements change with the seasons.
Winter is a time where we need to nourish our bodies and feed them with the necessary nutrients to keep us healthy and warm so that we can be protected from winter colds and flus.
Our body’s metabolism and energy levels change in winter and our diets need to be adjusted to accommodate this.
We might find that we crave more comfort foods in winter, but it’s important to make healthy choices to make sure that we are still nourishing ourselves and not gaining unnecessary weight that we will struggle to shift when the weather warms up again.
The most important nutrients for the winter months include Vitamins A, C, and D.
Root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, carrots, and beetroot are good sources of vitamins A and C. Yellow vegetables contain beta carotene which is a precursor of vitamin A. These can be added to soups and stews and can be used as an alternative to potatoes.
Vitamin D rich foods:
Low levels of vitamin D can contribute to a lower mood during the winter months as well as a lowered immune function. Good food sources of vitamin D include shitake mushrooms, oily fish such as salmon, egg yolks, red meat, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin C rich foods:
Citrus fruits, kiwi’s, guava’s, bell peppers, and berries are all good sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and nourishes the adrenal glands so is always a good addition to a winter diet.
Soluble fiber is important for heart health, and detoxification, and it provides food for the good bacteria in the gut. Oats are a good source of fiber and are low on the glycemic index so will keep you full for longer and will not cause unhealthy blood sugar fluctuations. In the winter months, spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg can be warming and comforting so are great to add to your morning oats. Old fashioned oats or rolled oats are better alternatives to instant oats. If time is a factor, oats can be made in bulk and stored in the fridge for a few days. When oats and other starches are cooked and then cooled, they go back to their resistant starch form which makes them even better for the gut bacteria and lowers their impact on blood sugar, even when they are warmed up again.
Soups are wonderful because you can pack a whole lot of nutrition into a cup or a bowl. Ideally, you would want to consume water-based soups and broths rather than creamy soups, although a dash of cream here and there won’t be harmful. Soups can be made with a variety of vegetables and proteins. Lentils or beans are a great addition for some extra protein and to thicken vegetable soups.
Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 2 June 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am