With the warmer weather coming along it’s time to say goodbye to all the winter comfort foods and habits that have crept in, and say hello to the fresher, lighter side of life!

We all start to hibernate a bit in winter and incorporate the winter habits of porridges, hearty soups, stews, pastas and some rich feel-good desserts. The problem is you start increasing the portions because these foods make you feel so good, and start slipping in more processed foods just because they’re so convenient! But as the warmer weather shines upon you, you start worrying about having to try on those summer clothes because you can feel an extra layer has grown itself onto your body!

It’s time to lighten the diet up, so that you can lighten your load! But where do you start? These habits are so comforting you don’t really want to give them up! Let’s take a look at what habits changed during the winter months and what you can do to change them back to the healthier ones.

Fresh Fruit and Salads

Did you manage to continue eating fruit over the winter months? Or are winter fruit too boring and cold for you? You could have swapped to dried fruit, but did you remember to keep your portions small? Salads also seem to dwindle in the winter months, and though you may have kept up with cooked veggies, did you manage to incorporate the less starchy, green veggies?

It’s time to stock up on fresh fruit and veggies again! As the weather gets warmer it will become easier to eat these foods again. Salads are delicious for lunch, but remember to add some protein, carb (nice carbs to add are chick-peas, mealies or butternut) and fat so that the meal sustains you and you are not starving by supper! Smoothies are also a fantastic way to get in more fruit and veg. Make them the night before if you are tight on time in the morning, or grab one from Happy.Me on your way out of the gym. See the Simple Green Smoothie recipe below for a delicious, nutritious drink.

Yoghurt

Yoghurt is so cold and it seems to disappear from our diet in winter! It is however a fantastic snack, and contains much needed probiotics that will help your stomach function well. Try to add in yoghurts (you can add some fruit and nuts to this snack) more regularly as snacks again, rather than the toast or baked goods that have crept in. It is always best to choose the lower fat and sugar-free varieties – you can always add a teaspoon of honey or some fruit to the yoghurt if you prefer a sweeter taste.

Water

You have not been sweating as much in winter and the thirst signal just hasn’t been very prominent! And you have gotten your fluid through coffees and lattes and hot chocolates instead! Though warmer fluids are much more comforting in winter, these choices are adding in extra calories. Try to get that water jug back onto your desk. Add in some lemon, mint, berries, orange or cucumber to the water to flavour it lightly. Water is crucial for the body to function optimally – the body needs it to digest, absorb, transport and eliminate nutrients and waste as well as to boost the metabolism.

Portion sizes

Portion sizes creep up so easily, especially when you want nurture during the colder months. This is one of the biggest reasons for weight gain – that, plus the fact that many people don’t exercise as often during these months. It’s time for a reality check! Get out those measuring cups again and make sure that the starch portions are not more than ½ to 1 cup and that the protein portions are not more than your palm size. This is especially important for your supper meal. If you want to eat more, add some extra non-starchy, green veggies to your meal – these veggies add bulk without adding much energy.

Changing your eating plan can be daunting, but if you focus on changing small aspects of your eating patterns and behaviours by changing a few things at a time, it may just be possible!

The Simple Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • ½ of a large bunch of spinach
  • 3–4 celery stalks
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pear
  • 1 banana
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Optional – 1/3 of a bunch of parsley (stems okay)

Method:

  1. Add the water and chopped head of lettuce and spinach to the blender. Blend until smooth
  2. Add the celery, apple and pear, then the parsley if you choose
  3. Add the banana and lemon juice last