By Courtenay Turner
During winter, it can be all too easy to fall off the healthy eating bandwagon.
Many of us crave bigger portions, heartier, heavier meals and starchy foods that serve to warm us up from the inside, out. And, as the weather continues to cool, the temptation to order takeaway grows as a trip to the grocery store can seem all too difficult when it’s dark and cold outside.
But despite the obvious challenges, winter can actually present us with an excellent opportunity to reset our health. Winter often brings with it a slower pace, more time spent indoors and more time to nourish our bellies with gut-nourishing foods...
Stick to home cooking
Understandably, when it’s icy outside, it’s tempting to skip your weekly grocery shop in favour of a ready-made meal or takeaway pizza. Who wants to brave the cold when you can get your food delivered straight to your door? While you shouldn’t worry about the occasional indulgence, relying on fast food fixes is far from ideal. Many processed foods, ready-made meals and takeaways are low in fibre, imbalanced nutritionally and packed with preservatives and excess sugar – which feeds pathogenic bacteria. To help reset your gut, cook at home whenever possible so that you can control exactly what you’re consuming and focus on nutrient-dense wholefoods – including lots of leafy green vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. If you’re keen to stay warm indoors, why not sign up to an organic veggie box subscription?
Dust off your slow cooker
These seriously underrated kitchen companions are so helpful if you’re looking to improve your gut health and create nourishing gut-friendly meals. Pop your slow cooker on in the morning and you’ll arrive home to a beautiful, fragrant meal that’s ready to be devoured (mindfully, of course!). While meats and raw vegetables can be hard to digest, slow cooking helps to break down these foods, making them kinder on your digestion. Slow cookers also help to preserve heat-sensitive nutrients so you get maximum gut health benefits with every bite. One of our favourite ways to use our slow cooker is to create gut-nourishing Bone Broths – rich in amino acids such as glycine and L-glutamine – which help to heal and seal the gut.
Eat more fibrous veggies
Winter is the perfect time to move away from salads and dig into some of the more fibrous seasonal veggies available at this time of year. We love broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spinach, sweet potato and turnip – but ultimately, whatever is cheapest at your local market is likely to be what’s in season. Vegetables are an excellent source of fibre, which promotes microbial diversity and feeds the microbes that take up residency in your large intestine and colon. When fibre is fermented in your gut, short chain fatty acids are produced and these incredible compounds are both anti-inflammatory and essential for the health of our gut, brain, immune system and metabolic system.
Experiment with super spices
Warming spices have long been used in Eastern cultures to fire up digestion. Ginger, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom are all gut-loving varieties that may aid digestion, help to relieve bloating and minimise irritation. Spices such as cayenne pepper and cinnamon have a thermogenic effect in the body, meaning that they increase body heat and help to boost metabolism. Turmeric is high in antioxidants and possesses anti-inflammatory compounds called curcuminoids, while cinnamon and ginger also help to control blood sugar levels. Whenever the opportunity presents, add some spices to your meals to boost your wellbeing.
How do you look after you gut in the cooler months?
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