Clean Eating For Winter

I love clean eating. Oh yeah, you can tell me about your success with the 5-2 diet, anti inflammatory diet, Paleo diet and the rest of them and I will say RUBBISH!!! You can have success with any diet!  Yes that is right – any diet that has whole – real- clean food as the under pinning philosophy will help you succeed in weight lose, increased vitality and an improvement in all areas of your health. The reality is that the 5-2 diet, the anti inflammatory diet and the Paleo diet will all be amazing for you if you are eating lots of veggies, clean proteins, some nourishing fat and a very minimal about of processed foods! As winter coolness sets in we tend to eat more and sometimes that can be problematic in terms of additional weight, lack of energy, and therefore a decrease in vitality. If you take on the simple philosophies of Clean Eating for winter you won’t experience weight gain or energy slumps and by eating whole foods that are nutrient dense, not calorie dense, you can nourish yourself sexy not starve yourself sexy! What do I mean by sexy? Sexy is being emotionally balanced, physically well, and mentally focused. Take any one of those character traits out of the equation and replace it with un- balance, un- well or un- focused and we will lose our sexiness; just ask your partner.  Nourishment is the foundation of every individual’s health, and without it with we can cruise for a little time, but in the long run our bodies require nutritionally rich food for our physical and cognitive function, neurotransmitter, immunity, energy and overall wellbeing. If we are going to eat food several times a day, why not eat something that makes our hair, skin, brain and body appear and function at its best? Does this make sense so far? As a nutritionist, I have witnesses patients yo-yo back and forward through every fad diet.   I’ve written evidence reviews on the Atkins diet, Miami beach diet, Blood Type diet, and have even been persuaded into juice fasting myself.

Clean Eating for Winter & Why it Works

In my twenty five years of exploring with dieting, nutrition, and health, nothing creates more energy, wellness, and the feeling of vitality than the following:

  • Eat foods with the least amount of processing and are those that are closest to their whole food form. Why? Eating foods that are not processed in a factory usually means that they are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When foods are eaten in their natural state they are often low in sugar, free from chemicals and preservatives, and trans fats- all of which can set us up for insulin resistant states and food cravings.  Your body burns twice as many calories breaking down whole foods (especially those rich in fiber such as brown rice, legumes, and oats) than processed foods.
  • Eat three small meals per day and two real food snacks in between. Do not skip. Why? Increasing meal frequency appears to help decrease hunger and therefore improve appetite control. Admittedly, there are studies for and against eating three times per day and having a small snack in between; however most studies conclude that this will assist in your metabolism and keep hunger at bay.
  • Each meal should have a hand size portion of protein, half a handful size of complex carbohydrates, and a small amount of quality fat at each meal.  Why?
    1. Quality protein foods like lean meats, fish, chicken, eggs, and legumes have a thermogenic effect: which means you burn about 30% of the calorie from the food during digestion (a 300 calorie chicken breast therefore requires about 90 calories to digest it). Protein assists with immunity and lean muscle mass.
    2. Complex carbohydrates provide us with healthy blood sugar regulation, which in turn feeds our energy levels and our brain function. Brown rice, dark or grainy breads, oats, muesli, quinoa, millet are the complex, sustainable carbs that will keep your blood sugar from roller-coasting.
    3. Good fats provide us with balanced hormones, healthy skin, and satiety in your meal. The addition of olive oil and most nut oils, avocado, some cold water fish like salmon, seeds and nuts may also stop your sugar cravings and add to the balancing of your moods.
  • Drink water, herbal teas or light soups to stay hydrated.  Why?  People confuse hunger for thirst. We often forget to drink especially if the temperatures are cooler. Without proper hydration, we tend to get hungrier, headaches, unhealthy skin, and often constipation. If you are tired of plain old water, go for some sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange. Why not try tossing in some pomegranate seeds into your sparkling – lucky taste buds!  Hot teas are also very nourishing.  Just the thought of holding a warm cup of tea on a cool day makes most of us smile and feel comforted. Try some green tea for its thermogenic and health-promoting flavonoid, liquorice tea for its blood sugar stabilising, or some cinnamon tea for its warming effect.
  • Add warming spices to your foods like cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and garlic, onions and chillies.  Why? Spices are antioxidant rich, which mean they are mopping up any dangerous and ageing free radicals that are floating around. Spices can be high thermogenic foods that boosts your metabolic rate- especially chilli and cayenne powders. Ginger and turmeric are proven to assist with inflammation in the body. But most of all, spices can turn a boring meal into a fiesta for your tastebuds.

Clean Eating for Winter Immunity

It is not uncommon to get colds and the flu during the winter months. Incorporate carrots, pumpkin, spinach, cabbage, kale, capsicum and oranges into your day to ensure you are getting vitamin A, E, C and D. Red and orange coloured vegetables are rich in vitamin A, which is the nutrient that is especially important in supporting the lining of our lungs and our lymph glands. An important tip here is foods that are rich in vitamin A, E, D, and K (fat- soluble vitamins) work more effectively if there is a small amount of fat in your diet. The type of fat we need comes from food sources like olive oil, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds. When we eat good fats our bodies fully absorb the benefits provided to us in fat- soluble vitamins to build our immune system up.

“Choose Your Poison”

This is an excellent little phrase that you may want to incorporate into your daily life. We are not all going to be perfect in our eating plan all the time. Once and maybe even twice a week, think about “choosing your poison.” Not literally, of course but figuratively; will it be wine, chocolate, chia latte with vanilla syrup?  Food poisons are calorie dense, high in sugar and have very little nutritional value; but I am the modern day nutritionist who understands living and loving food. So make up your mind and choose one to two poisons a week. What I find with most people is that when they incorporate clean eating, Cleanse & Nourish ( link ) principles into their diet, their daily diet becomes a life time habit, then the odd binge may often give you a ‘food hangover’ so after a while you don’t even crave the binge. When we overburden our system with sugar, alcohol, processed foods, and toxins, we can get a sluggish, bloated, hangover effect from poor food choices. Grab a blanket, a cup of this soup and nourish yourself sexy!  

Michele Chevalley Hedge was the guest editor for Clean Eating Magazine – Special Winter Edition, 2014 – a fuller version of this article can be found in the magazine.
Paleo or not to Paleo
Avoiding Weight Gain This Silly Season


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