Why is it that as soon as temperatures plummet our food cravings seem to skyrocket? Everything we can easily ignore during the heat of summer suddenly becomes essential to our very existence. Yes, we are talking about sugary snacks, hot chocolate and carb-laden cookies. Add to that the festive season upon us. Helping us get on track before things get out of hand is leading nutritionist, health coach and certified health professional Noura Hassaballa.

Causes of packing on extra weight in winter

In a nutshell, in winter your body burns more calories in order to keep you warm. If you are eating ‘healthy’ you should actually lose weight as when your body is exposed to cold it releases more heat to keep you warm. But it is so tempting to make wrong food choices in order to keep warm.

Best comfort food choices to make in winter

Traditionally we have turned to hot drinks like sahlab, which should really be avoided, as it is loaded with starch and sugar. Soups are a much better option for winter, but the secret is to make sure that they are non-creamy, and low in fat and carbohydrates. Go for healthy choices like lentil, pumpkin and other vegetable soups, and casseroles with chickpeas or sweet potatoes.

How can you manage your carb cravings?

It is important to eat small, regular meals and drink plenty of water. It is easy to overlook this point when temperatures cool, but even if you are not thirsty it is a good idea to regularly have healthy caffeine-free hot drinks like chamomile or mint tea. It should be noted that green tea actually contains more caffeine than regular tea.

Avoid adding on kilos with these simple steps:

  • Work out!
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Start meals with soup in winter, as salads are cooling and tend to weaken the immune system.

Stay in shape with these healthy, non-fattening food swaps:

Rather than turning to simple carbohydrates, fried foods and processed snack products, go for proteins, complex carbohydrates and vegetables. Proteins keep you feeling full; vegetables are high in fiber, especially leafy green varieties, and broccoli and asparagus. Boiled sweet potatoes, legumes, lentils, quinoa and buckwheat are filling and a slow-burning fuel for your body as well.

What is the best time of day to eat complex carbs?

There is no ‘best’ time of day. It really depends on your lifestyle and level of activity. You need complex carbs before you work out, either morning or evening, but people with a sedentary or less active lifestyle should consume their main carbs earlier in the day rather than having them late at night.

Foods you should include regularly in your winter diet:

As mentioned, you need a good balance of proteins, vegetables and complex carbohydrates like legumes and fruit. Vitamin C is important, with guavas being an excellent source, along with citrus fruit and kiwifruit. Pomegranate is excellent for helping with circulation as well, important in colder weather.

5 Top Tips for healthy eating over the festive season.

  1. It is so easy to go overboard with all the food temptations at parties and gatherings, so try to snack on small meals throughout the day. Then when you eat in the evening it will be easier to restrict yourself to a small plate with a balance of 50% vegetables, 25% protein and 25% carbohydrates.
  2. If there are a lot of intriguing dishes, allow yourself a tablespoon of each, and don’t go back for seconds!
  3. Don’t load up on juices or other sugary beverages; keep a small bottle or glass of water handy throughout the evening.
  4. Never eat until you feel 100% full, 80% is about right, so stop when you feel you have reached that point.
  5. Social gatherings are not just about food. They provide a wonderful opportunity to catch up with family and old friends, and are a chance to meet new people. Enjoy conversations and take a break from your plate. Doing this will give your body time to realize that there is enough food to digest in your stomach and that you don’t actually need to eat more.


Contact information

Noura Hassaballa

Diet Rite Nutrition Centre

Tel: 0100 503 0024 – 0100 503 0021

Facebook: @dietritenutritioncenter

Instagram: @dietriteeg