The much-awaited winter season is here! Once the temperatures drop, we automatically feel the craving for all things warm and delicious. While it is tempting to binge on piping hot jalebis or sweet Gulab Jamuns, we must resist cravings and eat a balanced diet even during the winter season. In fact, it is all the more important to balance out all the nutrients to keep diseases and infections at bay and provide our body with the necessary nutrition to stay warm and fit. "In winters, our body works more efficiently during winters since it has to keep our body temperatures normal. It revs up the metabolism and starts utilisation of nutrients in a better form," says consultant nutritionist Rupali Dutta.
Here's How To Include The 5 Food Components In Your Balanced Winter Diet:
Carbohydrates are the first and foremost component of a balanced diet. Wholegrains are some of the healthy carbohydrates to include in your diet. Whether you eat a hearty Makki ki Roti or some piping hot Bajre ki Khichdi - there are many recipes you can try. Consultant nutritionist Rupali Dutta also suggests eating millets in one form or the other. "Millets are excellent because they are whole grains, most are gluten-free, loaded with antioxidants, and help keep the body warm since they are nutrient-dense. It'll not only give your body a welcome break but also give your body all the essential nutrients," she says.
There are a number of good protein sources for winters. Some winter seasonal vegetables such as peas, beans and spinach are also enriched with protein. Fish, meat and eggs are great sources of good quality protein and can be incorporated into a balanced diet for the winter season. Dutta recommends, "Winters is a good time to have egg, as it is a complete protein. Vegetarians can get equally good quality protein by combining pulses and cereal. The protein quality of the meal goes up rather than having the two separately."
(Also Read: 9 Yummy Egg Recipes You Have To Try This Winter)
Milk and milk products too can be rich in protein. This includes paneer and curd. It is a myth that we should not consume curd in winters as the benefits outweigh the negatives. "Curd can still be had in winters as it is a good probiotic and necessary for digestion. Have it at room temperature, but don't give up on it," advises Dutta.
During the winter season, healthy fats such as white butter make an appearance on our plates as part of a balanced diet. The reason for consuming fats is that they keep us warm and nourished during the harsh weather. Nutritionist and Macrobiotic Health Coach Shilpa Arora says ghee is a must-have in winters, "Ghee should be the medium of cooking during winters. Mustard oil can also be used."
Nuts and dry fruits also come under the winter essentials of a balanced diet. "Nuts and seeds keep you warm and contain all the essential fatty acids. Go for pecans, walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios," suggests Arora. Seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower can also be used as concentrated sources of energy that are loaded with antioxidants.
4. Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are what help keep diseases and infections at bay. We see an abundance of seasonal fruits such as orange and guava, as well as Indian gooseberry aka Amla. These must be consumed as part of a balanced diet to stock up on good health. "All the seasonal fruits and vegetables available during that period are nutrient-dense. So, the best way to eat well during winters is to keep a variety and choose all the colourful fruits and vegetables that are there," advises Rupali Dutta.
Winters also see plenty of leafy greens such as spinach, saag, methi and pudina. According to Shilpa Arora, "70 % of your diet should include winter greens. They contain chlorophyll and are extremely healthy for the body." Root vegetables such as sweet potato, beetroot, radish and turnip are also immensely nutritious for winters. Cauliflowers and broccoli both are cruciferous vegetables that must be had in the winter season.
5. Water & Fibre
Last but not the least, water and hydration are key during the winters. Some people tend to skip drinking water as the feeling of thirst reduces. However, there are other ways to stay hydrated. Soups, for instance, nourish and hydrate at the same time. It is best to avoid cold beverages and fresh juices. Tea and coffee are also consumed during winter months to stay hydrated, however, Rupali Dutta says consumption should be limited. "Don't have more than two or three cups, and don't have it with your meals because half your nutrients will get blocked and not get absorbed. Try haldi tea, Ashwagandha tea, and other fruit infusion teas that are warm and soothing," she suggests.
Fibre is an integral part of a balanced diet since it helps keep digestion processes smooth. Fruits, vegetables, dry fruits can all help load up on fibre content in winters. "Winters is when digestion is better so have all your pumpkins and beets and carrots halwa. Flaxseed powder and oats are also recommended," concludes Shilpa Arora.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
About Aditi AhujaAditi loves talking to and meeting like-minded foodies (especially the kind who like veg momos). Plus points if you get her bad jokes and sitcom references, or if you recommend a new place to eat at.