Winter warmers

The cold months that show their faces in winter are ideal for hearty foods, but in order to live healthily and avoid weight gain – you need to be wise about your winter food choices. Dietitian, Berna Harmse, shares tips to ensure your health remains in good form.

Stick to regular meal and snack times

Avoid skipping main meals or snacks; it may lead to overeating that will most likely leave you feeling guilty and remorseful. Regular meals and snacking maintain stable blood sugar levels which help you not to binge on unhealthy food.

Boost your immune system

If your immune system is strong, you will be able to fight off infections. Beta-carotene (found in orange, yellow and green fruit and vegetables), vitamin C (found in citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables) and vitamin E (found in nuts, seeds, whole grains, soft tub margarines and vegetable oils) are powerful antioxidants and should be included in your meals. Basically, eat more fruit and vegetables.

Keep moving

The weather shouldn’t be an excuse to not workout. No matter the season, the heart muscle still requires exercise to ensure optimum health. If you are a gym member, continue your sessions. If the mornings are a no-go, perhaps changing to a late afternoon or evening time slot might work better. Try indoor activities, like skipping, dancing, aerobics, yoga, swimming (in a heated pool), or spinning.

Ideas for breakfast

In the colder months, it is usual to crave a warm breakfast. Try the following options: cooked porridge, whole-wheat cereal with hot milk, scrambled egg, banana with a drizzle of honey or peanut butter on toast.

Ideas for lunches

By lunch time most people are ravenous and the quickest solution is fast food. However, by packing a lunch box, either the night before or in the morning, you can control what goes in your mouth and save cash. Below are some lunch ideas:

• Leftover dinner (can be heated up if you have a microwave at work).

• Toasted sandwiches with low-fat toppings such as tuna and chicken.

• Baked beans on toast.

• Baked potato with low-fat cottage cheese.

• Toasted pita with hummus, lettuce and cucumber.

• Soup with whole-wheat bread (choose the ‘Lite’ option, if using the instant soup).

Ideas for dinner

• Non-creamy soups (vegetable or lentil-based soups, minestrone or chicken and corn).

• Warm pasta or lasagne dishes (use more vegetables, low-fat sauces and cheeses).

• Roasts with vegetables and baked potato (use lean meat, chicken, turkey or pork).

• Grilled fish and vegetable dishes.

• Spicy curries with rice, tortillas or whole-wheat rotis.

• Stews or casseroles with plenty of vegetables.

• For dessert, opt for baked fruit puddings with homemade low-fat custard.


Berna Harmse is a private practicing dietitian in Cape Town, she holds a MSc in Dietetics and has a special interest in oncology nutrition. She is also an external lecturer at Stellenbosch University Division of Human Nutrition.