Winter is sometimes referred to as “cold and flu season” and “weight gain season,” but there’s no reason you can’t be just as healthy now as other times of year. Admittedly, there are plenty of triggers that may cause you to abandon healthy habits and wear down your immune system. But remember that the status of your health begins with what you put into your body.
Here are some ways to adjust your diet for the winter to stay healthy all season long.
Eat Enough Protein
High protein diets are often associated with the nutrition needs of athletes and bodybuilders, but they also come into play in winter for the rest of us. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, but that’s the minimum amount you should be getting to avoid illness.
Protein doesn’t just help you lift more weight at the gym; it also strengthens your immune system. So eat some protein at every meal, whether from meat or plant-based sources, in the winter.
Choose Low Glycemic Index Carbs
Low glycemic index (GI) foods don’t make your blood sugar spike like high starch and sugar products do. Insulin spikes can weaken the immune system and alter hormone production. Also, low GI foods help you control your weight, even if you’re living in sweatpants all winter long.
Swap Fatty Foods for Healthy Fats
Winter is full of holiday goodies and fattening foods, but those aren’t the fats we’re talking about here. Essential fatty acids come from foods like fish, nuts, and olives. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are also known to improve energy and mood, which are common struggles in the winter.
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Get Lots of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are the nutrients that fight free radicals in the body and help prevent sickness. The best fruits with antioxidants are blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries. But non-fruit sources that are healthy too include artichoke, beans, and walnuts.
Stock Up on Vitamin C
Good ole’ vitamin C is just as relevant as it was any other winter season. Just make sure that you’re getting your vitamin C from whole foods like kale and bell peppers rather than sugary, processed juices.
Try Herbal Remedies
Not all winter sickness remedies and preventative measures come from behind the pharmacy counter. The human body has been fighting seasonal sicknesses for thousands of years with natural remedies that don’t bring chemicals and additives into the body. Herbs like Echinacea support a healthy immune system typically without the risk of side effects that prescription and over-the-counter medications bring.
Don’t Skip Breakfast
Breakfast is an important meal any time of the year, but perhaps more than ever in the winter. Eating breakfast stimulates your metabolism, which can get sluggish over the winter if you become more sedentary. Good breakfast options are root vegetables, granola, yogurt, and berries.
Resist Comfort Foods
It’s hard to stay away from heavy comfort foods, like mac and cheese and pizza, in the winter, but try your best. Eat a healthy meal or snack before you go to a party so you don’t indulge and overeat, and avoid alcohol in excess. If raw veggies and salads don’t sound that appealing on cold winter days, serve them with a hot side dish.
Essential Winter Foods
Instead of those comfort foods that’ll do you more harm than good, swap them out with healthy winter foods instead.
Here are some of the best foods to incorporate into your daily diet this winter.