The days are getting cooler and you need your slippers for your Monday night Game of Thrones sesh. Winter is on its way…
I used to hate winter, but that’s because I spent too long in London where winter is less a season and more a state of the nation. The extreme temperatures made running impossible for a wimpy South African, and the prospect of hitting the gym caused a sinking feeling of dread that used to ruin my days. No one wants to exchange woollen tights and uggs for skimpy lycra and then watch the sweat freeze to icicles as you exit the chamber of warmth onto the brain-numbing streets outside.
So, I clearly adapted well.
Luckily Cape Town isn’t nearly as bad, but the common denominator for winter on both continents is an increased desire for comfort food. I don’t usually have cravings for warm puddings and roast potatoes, but at the moment if you offered me hot chocolate fudge cake for breakfast, I would eat it. And go back for seconds.
It can be hard to stick to healthy foods in the colder months, so here are my top tips for staying on track.
- Don’t deny yourself
If you want the malva pudding, have it. But only have it once a week, not every night. In between indulgences, make sure you’re stocked up on healthy treats at home that you can enjoy with a cup of tea – like these sugar free peanut butter cookies. The cookie satisfies your craving while the warm tea gives you that winter comfort feeling.
2. Eat more…but well
We burn more energy keeping warm in winter and so need more fuel. No, put down the pastry – this is not an excuse to eat all the pies. If your diet is usually low to no carb, add a complex carbohydrate like sweet potato or quinoa at dinner to satiate your desire for comfort foods. Half an avo at lunch will keep you feeling fuller. Eat protein with each meal and snack to balance blood sugar and prevent cravings.
3. Get souped up
Healthy soups are super easy to make and help you meet your veggie quota for the day, plus you can bring the leftovers to work for a quick, nutritious lunch.
4. Make friends with tea
Herbal tea is your bestie over winter. Rooibos, honeybush, sweet rose or chai – choose caffeine free options and drink them all day, every day. They’re filled with antioxidants and they warm you up without adding needless calories. If you’re not big on tea, make a healthy hot chocolate from almond milk and cacao, sweetened with a teaspoon of raw honey. Remember not to increase your coffee intake – 1 or 2 cups a day is fine, but more than that causes an excess of the stress hormone cortisol in your blood, which leads to sugar cravings and sleep problems.
5. Drink water
I know, it’s cold outside and water makes you cold inside – you’d rather drink cappucinos. But there really is no better tip to maintain a stable weight and optimally functioning body than drinking water. If you’re struggling with the temperature, drink mugs of warm water flavoured with fresh lemon. This not only stimulates your cell function, but it also aids digestion and keeps those pesky flu bugs away.
6. Shake that ass
Wrap up warm, get out there and get moving! Whether it’s zumba class, HIT training at the gym or braving the elements for a morning jog, pick what works for you and promise that you’ll keep it up during winter. Your instinct to snuggle up on the couch is strong, but a sedentary lifestyle even just in the colder months slows your body functions down and affects your overall health, leading to sugar cravings and overeating.