Author: Louise Irvine

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Monday, December 15th, 2008 at 1:28 am
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Keep Fit Series

Beginner’s Guide To A Healthy Lifestyle Part Three: Healthy eating in winter months

In the depths of winter it is all too easy to reach for the comfort foods that help us beat the winter blues and feel better. The winter is not the time to try and shift weight but it is important that we eat to fight off the winter lurgie and avoid piling on the pounds.

Dark nights and wet weather make people less active and more likely to stay indoors. As a result more viruses are spread so we must ensure that we eat to strengthen our immune system. Even though we might not avoid every bug that is going about, a strong immune defence will help you to get back on your feet quicker. A balanced diet, exercise, and fresh air will make your body stronger and more prepared to fight illness.A healthy and balanced diet is usually defined as a diet in which nutrient intake is maintained, and cholesterol, salt, sugar and fat are reduced.

The body craves carbohydrates during the winter months – this is due to reduced levels of serotonin as a result of fewer hours of sun. When eating carbohydrates it is important to choose whole grains.

A balanced diet with the right amount of vitamins and minerals is essential to good health. Taking vitamins as a supplement to your diet is a good idea, but you’re best off getting as many of your nutrients as possible right from the source.


We would normally obtain Vitamin D from the sun and it helps to reduce the risk of many diseases. Vitamin D can be found in fortified dairy products, fatty fish, and egg yolks. But reaching the recommended level through food alone is difficult in winter.

Vitamin C may not prevent colds but can help to make your cold milder and reduce the length of illness. Seasonal winter fruits include pomegranates, cranberries, citrus fruits and purple grapes

Echinacea stimulates the immune system to help fight almost any common infection, including colds and flu.

Liquorice (probably not allsorts!) can be used to help stop coughing. It also helps sore throats.

In addition, vitamins, enzymes, and minerals in different foods can help us to recover from sickness and symptoms. Zinc is good for fighting off sickness. People who take zinc are only half as likely to have cold symptoms. You can take zinc lozenges to help fight off a cold. Nutritious soups with a lot of vegetables can help to relieve symptoms of a cold and they can be low in calories. Just make sure you always read the label before you buy, and watch out for high salt levels in tinned soups. Alternatively, home-made soup is an ideal way to get your daily intake of vegetables.

Drinking fluids and keeping your body hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your health. You may not be as inclined to drink (by that I don’t mean alcohol) during the winter as during the hot summer months, but it remains just as vital. Symptoms of dehydration include headaches, fatigue and dry cracked lips.

Alcohol forms a commonplace part of many people’s eating and drinking habits over Christmas but it is worth remembering that alcohol at 7k/cal per gram contains almost as many calories as fat. It has no nutritional benefits so it is empty calories.

Keep in mind – If you are embarking on a new diet in the New Year, or are making changes to your current diet, then you need to be patient as it takes three days for your metabolism to reset itself.

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