Winter is just not about having the perfect wardrobe or enjoying the chilly thrills that the season offers. It’s also about taking care of our body and doing away with unhealthy eating habits. It took me a few unwanted experiences to realise that just as we cannot live on ice cream during the scorching summers, similarly, we cannot perpetually consume the delightful hot chocolate and baked cookies during winters.
Until a couple of years ago, as the temperature fell, I would feel extremely lethargic and drowsy, and I am sure many can relate to it. This happens because our metabolism rate slows down to conserve energy and keep the body warm during winters. Therefore, winterizing our diet is necessary to fight cold-borne diseases. Including these following healthy winter food items in my winter-diet not only put an end to the lethargy but also made my meals super delicious.
Since ancient times, honey has been used throughout the year as a medicine. I use it whenever I get a sore throat or want to get rid of a stubborn cough. It also helped me in getting relief from nocturnal cough, allowing me to sleep better. Even if you are not suffering from similar health conditions, you can still add one to two tablespoons of honey to a glass of warm water along with lemon juice and drink it regularly on winter mornings. It strengthens our immune system, keeping flu and common cold away.
During the winters, the real challenge is in getting the fresh produce to your house. Most of the agricultural produce is reaped in other seasons, and despite the need, winters often leave you in need of freshly produced veggies. Carrots and other winter food items, which generally come in the category of rooted vegetables, are a great way to get freshly grown veggies while still getting your nutritional chart fulfilled. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which is great for your eyes and helps your body absorb Vitamin A.
As other root vegetables like onions, sweet potatoes, ginger, beets, garlic, radishes, etc. also grow underground, they absorb a lot of nutrients from the soil. Therefore, adding root vegetables to my winter diet substantially boosted my immune system. Also, there are so many delicious ways to prepare root vegetables, and I keep trying out new recipes from the internet, adding a refreshing touch to my meals.
Fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, red peppers, and citrus fruits contain vitamin C, which boosts our immune system and energy levels. Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit are readily available in winters. Sweet Potatoes have a very high nutritional value. Constipation has been a nagging problem that I suffered from. However, I found significant relief after consuming sweet potatoes.
Winters often become the season where most of us end up consuming high amounts of sugar. While the taste-buds are satisfied, it leaves us in a rather unhealthy state. Dates can be a great replacement for sugars and desserts. Dates are some of the few winter food items that leave you with a great sense of energy when you consume them. Walnuts, almonds, and apricots ensure that your body is sensitive to insulin and your nervous system keeps functioning the way it should.
Ragi and Bajra are rich in calcium, which has a direct impact on your bone-strength. In especially cold areas, winters have a lasting effect on bone and the skeletal system. Bajra has immense protein, fiber, and fats, that are necessary to keep you healthy even in the cold winds. Ragi is considered to have a curative effect on anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
Cauliflower has been used in Indian households for a long time now. Broccoli has been a recent introduction in the Indian kitchen. Together, they become absolutely important winter food items that you must consume in order to keep your immunity levels in check. Both of them are rich in Vitamin C that will help your body fight the immunity risks, which increase to concerning levels during winter.
While not many people recommend this – you should consider taking iron supplements. The problem with most dietary plans is that they focus on the calorie count. In winters, even if you are keeping your calories in check, you have to take the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and proteins. Iron keeps your red blood cells healthy and is essential to maintain hemoglobin levels. If your regular diet is not giving you enough iron, which comes to about 20 mg/day, you should consider taking supplements for avoiding deficiencies.
While winter may leave you feel cold and drowsy, you can use the season to work on your fitness and get the nutritional elements in your body balanced for the rest of the year. You can also use honey and sweet potatoes, along with all the winter food items mentioned here. If you can create a balanced diet with apt nutritional intake and complement it with adequate exercise, your body will be able to produce enough heat to keep you warm and healthy throughout the winters. And finally, you will be able to enjoy the breath-taking beauty of the winter skies!