Cold, flu, cough, bronchitis, asthma, itchy skin, headaches, joint pains, sinusitis and sore throat are commonly experienced during cold weather.
It’s time for a break from the hot humid weather, time for foggy mornings and chilly evenings; time for Adrakwali chai, festivals and wedding season. It is known that our body spends or uses energy for three purposes: continuous functioning of organs, for physical activity during the day and digestion of food we eat. The calories spent is around 10% of one’s daily intake. Values are higher at a relatively high protein, alcohol and fibre intake and lower at a high-fat consumption; which means that a diet rich in proteins and fibre will need more energy for its digestion and thereby our body will burn more calories compared to a high-fat diet.
Further, during winter our core body temperature drops and the body uses more energy to generate heat and keep it warm. This involuntary muscle tensing can increase your metabolic rate two to four times, which stimulates hunger. Winter also brings together several diseases. Hence, our body needs a good immune system to fight against these infections.
Winter symbolizes food and it would be wiser if we replenish our body with nutritious food rich in all the vital nutrients, to curb hunger, increase metabolism, boost our immunity to ward off ailments and keep our body warm.
What comes to your mind when you think of cold weather?
Maybe a nice Masala chai or cappuccino, hot parathas, warm soups, a few Makki ki roti(s) and Sarson ka saag, yummy khichadi with ghee, steaming hot rasam rice, munching on til or peanut chikki, some bajra rotla and undhiyu….well the list is neverending and makes you more hungry as you go on!
Let us talk about the benefits of including these foods in our daily diets.
- Fresh vegetables like carrots, onions, garlic, radish, sweet potatoes, beetroot, and winter greens like palak, methi, sarson, muli, pudina, coriander, are rich in minerals, fibre, beta carotene and antioxidants.
- Have at least 4-5 portions, i.e. 500gms of vegetables every day across your meals (cooked or fresh).
- Dry fruits/ nuts and oilseeds like sesame, peanuts, almonds, dates, fenugreek seeds are rich in proteins, calcium, fibre and minerals. Til chikki, peanut laddu, dates barfi, methi pak are all foods that boost the immunity and increase metabolism.
- Have a handful of nuts every day, i.e. 20gm (make it a mid-morning snack)
- Whole-grain cereals – wheat laddu, bajra rotla, make ki roti, wheat flour sheera etc are made from whole grains, millets and ghee. They provide complex carbs, fibre, minerals and healthy fats.
- Go for millets and whole grains as they provide complex carbs; avoid simple carbs like sugar.
- Pulses/dals/legumes – Dalia chikki, moong dal khichdi, bisibelle rice, lentil soup, moong dal halwa are winter delicacies rich in proteins, fibre and minerals. Proteins help in muscle building, growth and development.
- Meet your protein requirements of 1gm/kg body weight by including at least 2portions of dals and legumes every day.
- Spices like black pepper, fenugreek, ajwain and Suva (dill) seeds help in fighting against coughs and flu, stimulating appetite and digestion and increasing blood circulation; fenugreek seeds are beneficial for bone and joint problems whereas, turmeric is a potent anti-microbial immunity builder.
- Add spices to the dishes to bring the heat to beat the cold.
- Fruits like amla/gooseberry and guava are extremely rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Eating Vit C rich fruits every day prevents common cold, cough and infections and also aids in iron absorption.
- Have at least one fruit a day.
- Make winter foods part of your daily diet and enjoy their health benefits. Happy chilling!
(Dr. Meghana Pasi is a public health nutrition consultant with Arogya World's MyThali program).
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