Winters can be hard for many people. We in India are especially not equipped to handle the freezing temperatures. Our houses are not centrally heated and the walls are not insulated. Come November and the woolens are out. While we wear shawls, mufflers, jackets and sweaters, we neglect the exercise in winters. Jogging or walking outdoors in dark and fog, seems a Herculean task. People are even lazy to leave their warm quilt and head to the gym. In this scenario, my clients who train with me in Fitnesolution, often ask me as to, which foods should be eaten that keep them warm and yet do not make them gain weight.
Winters are synonymous with gajar ka halwa, til laddoos, peanuts and gachak. All these add to heavy calories. Some people find winters depressing. They have seasonal moodiness and increase in appetite in winters. Winters is also festive season- Diwali, Christmas, etc., are all related with food and feasts.
There are certain foods that have diet-induced thermogenesis and which help to keep us healthy and warm in winters.
Traditional whole grains and pulses are good. These are wheat, rice, millets, bajra, oats, maize, and corn. Pulses are beans, soybeans and other lentils.
In winters there is lots of fresh and leafy vegetables. It is advisable to have soups at night. It could be spinach soup or carrot and tomato soup or lentil soup. Soups and stews are healthy. It is good to have leafy vegetables like saag, bathua (amaranth leaves), etc. Saag and roti made of corn (makki) is a great combination in north India.
Green vegetables are rich sources of iron and help to improve hemoglobin levels.
Carrots, pumpkins, amla turnips are good sources of Vitamin C. It is tradition to put pickle of vegetables like carrot, cauliflower, turnips, etc. in winters.
Winter fruits like guava, oranges, etc. are also good sources of Vitamin C and help to fight cold and flu.
Herbs and spices can also keep us warm. All the ingredients of garam masala, keep the body warm. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, garlic, turmeric. Cloves, etc. are very good. All these not only keep the body warm but have other benefits too. Ginger and garlic fights cough, cold, flu, sinus, etc. These are decongestants. These also fight infections.
It is good to have nuts. Nuts and seeds keep the body warm. That is why traditionally nuts- almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc. are distributed during Diwali, which is the onset of winters. Similarly walnuts, figs, sesame seeds, flaxseeds are nutrition packed foods.
Traditionally, people eat peanuts and gachak in winters. Jaggery and honey are natural substitutes of sugar and have warming effect.
In winters, one can also have eggs, which again keep the body warm. Lean meats are also good.
In Kashmir, they drink kahwa, the traditional tea that has lots of cardamom and cinnamon in it. Green tea, masala tea, coffee, etc. can also help to keep the body warm.
Everything should be had in moderation and try to make sure that you do you do not neglect your workout during winters.