As the mercury dips, it is important to make some dietary changes to ensure that our body stays active and healthy even in the cold months. Sipping on hot chocolate and hogging on to pakoras may seem comforting in the winters. But that’s exactly why we need to make an extra effort! So, we caught up with the popular holistic health coach, Preety Tyagi, to tell us all about what changes we should be making in our diets in these cold months.
Preety is a certified Nutritionist from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, New York, and has done a specialization in Gut Health and Hormonal Health. She is the founder of My22BMI, a Digital Health and Wellness Platform where people can get proper scientific diet and nutrition planning. So, take notes, peeps!
Hi Preety. Can you tell us about why do we need to take extra care of our diet in winter?
The colder weather creates a number of health and safety risks as the activity level in people drops down. It’s also holiday season, which makes people overindulge in foods and drinks, leaving them even less fit and active. It also brings home some illnesses and infections which get easily trapped in the winter air. Lack of the desire to drink liquids is another cause of people staying dehydrated in a cold environment. Hence, it becomes important for one to be careful while making diet and lifestyle choices.
Can you tell us why are warm fluids important to include in winter diet?
Warm fluids are excellent during winters! It is important for people to stay hydrated and people are more likely to consume them in good quantity if they are warm. Soups is an excellent way of including warm fluids in your diet. Include delicious seasonal soups in your diet such as tomato soup, spinach soup, broccoli soup, pumpkin soup, vegetable soup, chicken soup etc.
Also, drink warm water instead of cold during winters. Herbal teas such as tulsi tea, chamomile tea, hibiscus tea, rooibos tea are all extremely therapeutic as well as help in keeping warm.
A lot of people complain of weight gain during winters due to reduced physical activity. So, what kind of winter diet should one have to avoid that?
A diet full of salads and soup and warm fluids is what you should take. Since winter is a season of abundant vegetable supply, people should make the most of it. Lean meats should be taken for protein intake such as chicken breast, fish, shrimps, prawns etc.
For vegetarians, extra care should be taken to eat good proteins to support the wear and tear that the body may go through. Keep intake of Vitamin C and antioxidants running throughout the winter to keep away from infections.
Any superfoods you recommend, especially for the winters?
Nuts and seeds especially- pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and sunflower seeds should be taken. Also, include some detox drinks to keep the metabolic rate high. Include ghee in your diet. And use turmeric for its healing properties.
How can people reduce and replace sugar in their diet during winters since it’s the official season of halwas!
Sugar can’t be taken out of a dessert but you can surely control your sugar consumption quantity. There are sugar substitutes available, so choose the healthier ones such as agave nectar, honey or stevia.
Winters also mean frequent bouts of cold, cough and infections. What kind of foods should be included to keep infections at bay and boost immunity?
Foods rich in Vitamin C and Zinc are a must. Some people find it hard to consume citric fruits in winter. So, try including supplements in your diet on a daily basis.
What kind of food should be avoided in winters which can affect our health?
Avoid foods extremely high in calories, by eating healthy foods frequently. Try to control portion sizes during parties and also, eat a well-balanced diet. Control your carb intake as winter induces a desire to eat a lot of carbs to make people feel better. Tea and coffee are comforting but it dehydrates and it takes away the nutrition from the food getting digested. So, watch what you eat or drink!
When we think of winters, we think of snacks with tea-samosas, pakoras etc. What are some healthy alternatives to fried snacks in winters?
Air frying is a great way of having nice and crispy snacks without having to get all the trans fat added in your diet. There are steamed snack options to go for as well. Also, baking is another way of avoiding fried foods.
Spices play a very important part in Indian cooking. What kind of spices do you think are healthy and must be added to one’s winter diet?
Every spice has its benefits and role to play in Indian cooking. But the very winter-specific ones would be- Black pepper, Sonth, Turmeric, Cloves, Black Cardamom, Cinnamon, Star Anise, Mace, Nutmeg. Include all of these to enhance the flavour of your food and enjoy all the health benefits as well.
Any specific foods which seniors must include in winter diet since a lot of them complain of bod aches in winters?
The best way is to keep your Vitamin D and B12 in check as these can really deplete during winters. Supplements must be included in your winter diet. Eat a lot of roughage such as a variety of fruits and vegetables in the diet. Include berries such as strawberries and blueberries, gooseberries as they are all a great source of antioxidants and help support the body.
Okay people, we hope you are now ready to brave through the winters with these handy tips!