TIPS TO MEET YOUR NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS DURING WINTER
According to the World Health Organization eating at least 400g, or five portions, of fruits and vegetables per day reduces the risk of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and helps to ensure an adequate daily intake of dietary fibre. Unfortunately, cold weather can mean the risk of the flu or a cold. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruits gives you immune-supporting nutrients to protect you from illness.
A healthy, balanced diet is key for good health. Most people find it difficult to eat healthily during winter. Winter season doesn’t have to mean letting all those healthy habits slip. Sticking to a healthy diet won’t prevent you from picking up winter borne illnesses, but it can help support your immune system to better protect you. And should you fall ill, a nutritious diet can help speed up your recovery.
BREAKFAST, AN IMPORTANT MEAL
A nutritious breakfast will help to make sure you have the nutrients you need and energy for the morning ahead, and studies have shown that it can also help you to maintain a healthy weight.
Start your day with a healthy slow-release breakfast, which will keep you full of energy until lunch. Low Glycemic Index (GI) foods are broken down slowly and give you a steady and sustained supply of energy throughout the day as well as keep you fuller for longer. Studies found that that when low-GI foods were eaten at breakfast, lunch intake was lower compared to a high-GI breakfast. Some Low GI options may include a bowl of FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ or FUTURELIFE® HIGH PROTEIN Smart food™.
Cereal is quick and easy to prepare and is a warm and filling start to the day. Try topping it with nuts or seeds (hazelnuts and walnuts, or pumpkin seeds) and apricots and some seasonal winter fruit like apples, pears cranberries or dates. Fresh and dried fruit (avoid sugar coated dried fruits) work well in several combinations. Add banana and raisins, dried apricots, plums poached with cinnamon, or chunks of apple, pear and dates. Remember – a handful of fresh fruit is about one portion.
A healthy breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be balanced. So, make sure that you include some starchy carbohydrates, protein and fruit or vegetables. For example, wholegrain toast with a poached or boiled egg or scrambled egg and ¼ avocado pear or baked beans, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes on toasted wholegrain bread, and a glass of juice or low-fat plain yoghurt with fruit and wholegrain cereals.
Fish such as salmon and cod, as well as milk, eggs and cheese, are a great source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system and contributes to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue.
TIPS FOR CHOOSING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Add foods like kiwifruit, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach red peppers and citrus fruits to your meals as they contain vitamin C, which plays an important role in the immune system and energy levels. Vitamin E is a nutrient your body needs to support your immune system and help your cells to regenerate. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are essential to your everyday health. Vitamin E can be found in spinach, broccoli and tomatoes.
Try making warm salads by incorporating some cooked grains. Also, use stocks, tomatoes and yogurt in place of cream when making stews and casseroles.
It is important that our immune system functions normally and zinc contributes to this. Foods such as oysters, spinach and legumes are good sources of zinc.
Red meats, lentils and green leafy vegetables are good sources of iron, which supports a healthy immune system.
Frozen vegetables are also a great option and they are sometimes more nutritious than fresh and will last well in the freezer so there is no waste.
Fruit and vegetable intake can be improved by:
- Always including vegetables in meals (for example, add to stews, have a vegetable soup)
- Eating fresh fruit and raw vegetables as snacks (for example, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and celery sticks)
- Eating fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season
- Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables
OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS:
- Swap sugary foods for sweet root veggies and soups
- Avoid comfort eating
- Shop online
- Keep your cupboards stocked with essentials
- Be prepared with bulk-cooking (avoid take-aways)
CONTINUE TO CONTROL YOUR PORTION
Stick to correct portion sizes of fatty, starchy and sugary foods.
Portion with caution. Try to portion your plate according to the ‘Plate Model’ where:
- ½ of your plate consists of non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots etc.
- ¼ of your plate consists of high fibre starches such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, sweet potato, butternut.
- ¼ of your plate consists of lean protein such as grilled skinless chicken, fish, lean mince
People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Fruit and vegetables should be an important part of your daily diet. They are naturally good and contain vitamins and minerals that can help to keep you healthy.
DATE: February 2022
Author: FUTURELIIFE® Dietitian