Winter is the time of year when it’s chilly outside, it’s harder to get our butts out of bed, and it’s more difficult to get motivated to do anything. You’d rather hit snooze on your alarm than get up for your 6am boot camp session, even though you know you’ll feel amazing and revitalised after.
Not only are we less motivated to be active, flu and infections are multiplying around us like there is no tomorrow. This is why winter is a critical time to eat nutritious, vitamin-rich foods to boost our immune system and keep us healthy and energized.
Why We Need to Eat Healthy Foods During Winter
We tend to give in more easily to our unhealthy cravings during winter to keep ourselves warm. Since most of these comfort foods tend to be high calorie foods such as chocolate, baked goods, cheese and red wine, it’s easy to put on extra weight during this time. It can creep up on us because we are usually covered up top to toe. However, this is a crucial time to ensure that our bodies stay nourished and fit, to avoid panicking when bikini season rolls around.
Include the following nutrients in your daily diet
We all know to dose up on Vitamin C to fight off colds and flu. Vitamin C has immunity-boosting properties that your body needs to be able to aid the functions of your immune system. It’s also essential for collagen production – more so than the anti-aging wrinkle-preventing synthetic serum you smear on your face every morning.
In addition to starting your day with a large glass of warm lemon-water each morning (NOTE: you must wait 15 mins before eating breakfast) include the following foods in your diet this winter:
- Brussels sprouts
- Winter squash
We don’t get the same sun exposure as we would during summer, and it’s crucial to keep Vitamin D levels up all year around. This vitamin boosts our body’s defense system and keeps us protected from flu and colds. Since we mainly get vitamin D from sunlight and we aren’t outside much during winter, we need food to replenish our vitamin D sources.
Make sure you eat:
- Fatty fish
- Egg yolks
- Portobello Mushrooms
- Yogurts that are fortified with the Vitamin D
- Vitamin D supplements – I personally supplement with 2000IU vitamin D all winter round to keep my levels up
These promote the production of serotonin, which is responsible for good mood. Decreased serotonin levels have been linked to depression. However, not all carbs are created equal. To maintain nutrient levels and avoid putting on weight, choose from these top carb sources:
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole-grain foods
- Gluten-free oats
- Buckwheat (it’s not actually wheat)
- Brown and black rice
Our body needs zinc for a number of body processes such as optimal digestion, sex hormone production, to sustain a proper immune function, cell growth and breakdown of carbohydrates
Inlcude these in your die:
- Whole grains
- Zinc supplement
Antioxidants protect our body’s cells from free radical damage due to pollutants, toxins and the normal body functions, such as digestion. Antioxidants protect our immune system and keep it in peak condition so we stay healthy, even during the cold months. They are present in foods we eat such as purple or red fruit and vegetables. Vitamin C, Zinc and Beta-carotene are antioxidants.
You’ll find antioxidants in:
- Red grapes
- Dark chocolates
- Green tea
- Olive leaf extract
Omega 3 Fats
Studies show that those who have a deficiency or are low in Omega 3 fatty acids are more prone to depression. Studies have shown that Omega 3 fats change brain activity levels. Consuming these healthy fats are not only essential for keeping us fit because they can help you burn more body fat, but they also help improve our mood, skin, and reduce inflammation in the body.
Increase your intake of:
- Oily, fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, trout, herring, sardines, and anchovies
- Flaxseed & chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Sweet red peppers
Eating the right amount of protein is essential for achieving and maintaining a healthy body composition. During winter this is especially important, as it is a critical component of every cell in our body for cell building and tissue renewal. Protein also helps keep you full longer, and prevents you from snacking on refined carbohydrates.
- Organic Tofu & Tempeh
- Beans & lentils
- Green peas
- Chia seeds
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Nut butters
- Hemp seeds
An excellent way of keeping up your intake of amino acids and minerals is by eating bone broth. I absolutely love sipping on hot broth whenever I am craving for warm foods.
Bone broth is a great source of important minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in amino acids and gut health promoting glutamine.
Recommended Recipe: Bone Broth
Image: Carnivore Style
Freshly cooked beef soup in large pot.
For more information on the seven nutrients you need this winter, take a look at my Lean Body Formula program.