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Don’t let winter leave you with extra baggage

Chilly weather calls for hearty meals and snuggling in front of the fire. It could also mean overindulging in high-calorie meals and snacks, and succumbing to more couch time and less exercise. If you find your healthy habits slipping during the winter months, use these tried-and-tested tips to keep you on track. This way, you won’t be left with excess baggage by the time summer rolls in.

Set healthy goals

Maybe you want to lose weight or get fitter. Or maybe your goal for winter is simply to not gain weight or to maintain your current fitness level. Whatever your goals, write them down. Keep them somewhere you can see them often, like on the fridge. Keep a food diary, or have a tick list for daily goals. For example, if you’re following a running programme, set daily goals that you can tick off. These will help you get to your long-term goal, for example, to run a 5K race by the time winter is over.

Make hearty, yummy meals

Warming comfort foods don’t need to be unhealthy. Heart-warming stews and steaming soups add to the enjoyment of winter. Try to still focus on vegetables and lean meats as you would when you prepare a healthy summer salad. Also include complex, high fibre carbs, but enjoy these in moderation.

Soups are a great choice – they are a fantastic way to up your daily vegetable intake. Stews and curries are good choices too, and they can be very healthy and wholesome. Again, rather add more veggies than unnecessary starches to bulk up stews. Instead of rice or pasta, you can opt for courgette noodles or cauliflower rice. And instead of mashed potato, why not try caulimash?  And remember, salads don’t have to be off the menu entirely during winter. There are plenty of delicious warm salad recipes available, like the warm roasted veggie salad recipe below.

Banish high-risk foods

Avoid the temptation of giving in to unhealthy snacking. If you stock your fridge and cupboards with healthy foods you’ll be more likely to choose well when hunger strikes. Have fruit, dried fruit (be mindful of portions), nuts, biltong, popcorn, high fibre crackers, and crudité, available. Low-calorie broths are good choices for snacks in winter too. By all means have some treats stashed away in a hard-to-reach cupboard, only to be enjoyed rarely or on special occasions.

Stay hydrated

During winter, we naturally drink less water, opting instead for warm beverages. If you’re not getting enough H2O, your body is more likely to send out a hunger signals. Why not try warm water with a squeeze of lemon, or rooibos tea with no milk or sugar? These will keep you hydrated without adding calories. Be mindful of high-calorie warm beverages like hot chocolate and enjoy these only occasionally.

Eat enough during the day

One of the biggest mistakes we make is to not eat enough during the day and overeating at night. Though this doesn’t only happen in winter, you may be more prone to overindulge on a cold winter evening if you’ve been running on empty during the day. Fuelling up during the day will help with portion control in the evening..

Picture summer

It’s so easy to fall off the healthy bandwagon during winter, while you’re covered up with layers of clothing. When you feel yourself losing motivation to exercise or tempted to give in to indulgence, try picturing yourself on the beach during summer. Everything you do now will impact on how healthy and fit you will be in summer.

Warm roasted veg salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 500g baby potatoes, washed and halved
  • 500g sweet potatoes, washed and cut into 4cm cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 large red pepper, thickly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, cut into thick wedges
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 80g baby rocket or spinach leaves

Dressing

  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh oregano leaves

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Place the potato, sweet potato, garlic and oil in a bowl. Toss well to combine. Place the vegetables onto a large oven tray. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Turn the potato and sweet potato and add the red pepper and onion. Roast for a further 15 minutes.
  4. Add the pine nuts to the vegetables and roast for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables are browned and tender. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
  5. Make dressing. Place the lemon juice, oil, mustard and oregano in a screw-top jar. Secure the lid and shake well to combine.
  6. Place the rocket or spinach leaves and the vegetables with the pine nuts in a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss gently to combine.

* Recipe adapted from taste.com.au