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Healthy winter diet: the best foods to eat to stay well this winter

Sweet potato chips are a great alternative to a regular packet of crisps if you’re craving some carbs. Picture: Pexels/Valeria Boltneva

Sweet potato chips are a great alternative to a regular packet of crisps if you’re craving some carbs. Picture: Pexels/Valeria Boltneva

Published May 31, 2022


Everybody knows that food is what gives our bodies the energy we need to survive. But not everybody is aware that certain foods are perfect during specific times of the year.

As we enter the colder months of the year, you may be tempted to ditch your healthy eating habits and opt for less nutritious foods.

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There are many possible reasons why we turn to these types of food when it’s cold, but the long and short of it is that they make us feel good when the temperatures dip. Dr Sivuyile Madikana, who is an expert in the field of health care, explains why it’s important to eat healthily in winter.

Have you read the latest IOL Food digital magazine? Read it here

“Getting the right quantity and quality of food during the colder months is important in ensuring optimal functioning throughout the day. A healthy diet should be made up of 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 30% healthy fats. Healthier, tastier options may be just the thing to satisfy those cravings while keeping your health and fitness journey on track. These delicious meal ideas come with all of the taste and none of the empty kilojoules,” said Madikana.

Madikana suggests easy tips to keep and/or maintain your wellness habits.


A delicious warm breakfast is a great way to start a cold winter morning, especially if you’re waking up before the sun. Having a delicious breakfast to look forward to can really help get you out of bed. It’s also incredibly important to fuel your body after it’s been resting for, hopefully, eight hours.

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Plus, if you win your morning, you win your day. Try fruity baked oats with nuts and a scoop of protein powder, or some wholegrain toast with avocado, a poached egg and chilli flakes for a yummy, protein-rich and hearty breakfast.

This will up your energy levels for the day and give you a much-needed dose of warmth.


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It’s perfectly normal to feel a little snacky throughout the day, especially when it’s cold. Research has shown that during the colder months, and as people tend to spend more time inside, they tend to experience a sort of "cabin fever”, which can lead to them snacking out of boredom.

Try making yourself some healthy, easy treats that you can keep close by throughout the day. Sweet potato chips are a great alternative to a regular packet of crisps if you’re craving some carbs. But if you’re feeling extra fancy, you could always try making some of your own easy treats.

Chocolate almond protein bites or sun-dried tomato and roasted pepper muffins are super easy to make and super delicious.

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For a hearty, healthy lunch, why not have soup? Soups are versatile, simple to make, and a great way to pack in a ton of vegetables. As you probably already know, vegetables are high in vitamins and antioxidants, which your immune system needs to function.

Illnesses tend to increase in winter, so do your body a favour and get that immune system in its best shape. Whether you go for mixed vegetable soup, cauliflower soup, or a classic butternut soup, adding legumes such as lentils or chickpeas is a great way to up the protein content.


Nothing screams comfort food like a good old-fashioned macaroni and cheese bake, spaghetti bolognese, or lasagne. Unfortunately, these tasty dishes are often very heavily loaded with carbohydrates and don’t always include much fibre or good fats.

But don’t worry! There are ways to enjoy some healthier renditions of your favourite pasta (and they’ll be just as tasty, too). Instead of using pasta in your lasagne or spaghetti bolognese, opt for some zucchini noodles, or zoodles as they are often referred to. These are easy to make yourself, but many supermarkets have ready-prepared ones if you’re in a rush.

For macaroni and cheese, try switching out some or all of your macaroni for cauliflower to make a tasty cauliflower and cheese bake. Being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean you have to abandon all of your favourite comfort foods. Try swopping some of their ingredients for healthier options where you can. Remember that everything in moderation is also okay and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a treat now and again.

Read more of these stories on our latest IOL Food digital magazine, here