Let’s face it: it isn’t easy staying healthy in winter when there’s so much comfort food out there with our name on it, right? It seems that every winter-worthy meal is packed with carbs, fats, sugar and salt.

Fortunately there are ways to keep those “winter layers” at bay.

Here are our top 5 health tips to help you make healthy choices when winter hits:

1. Hot Drink Alternatives

Hot chocolate

Instead of reaching for the comfort of hot chocolate made with full cream milk this winter, get yourself a tin of sugar-free cocoa. Cocoa contains antioxidants that help protect the body’s cells against damage caused by free radicals. Make a delicious chocolate flavoured drink with a splash of honey or Xylitol for sweetness and a dash of fat-free milk.

Milk

You could even substitute the cow’s milk with almond or soy milk which are both high in healthy nutrients.

Tea

Another healthy hot drink is a warm cup of rooibos tea. Remember to add lemon, honey and ginger to your tea. These are a source of Vitamin C to boost your immune system, antioxidants to protect your cells and support digestion.

2. Breakfast alternatives

Oats-So-Easy!

Oats are the way to go in winter. They are a source of full of vitamins and iron and make a warm and delicious breakfast. Add dried cranberries, banana, nuts, dates, seeds or oranges. Even a teaspoon of peanut butter adds an amazing flavour and extra energy to your oats.

Juice it up!

If you can’t get your proper portions of fruit and vegetables in every day, make your own juices or smoothies for breakfast. Remember to add two thirds vegetables and one third fruit to your blends. Seasonal fruit and vegetables like oranges, red peppers, beetroot and spinach are a good source of immune-boosting Vitamin C. Seeds are also a source of healthy oils your body needs.

3. Dinner alternatives

Let it stew

Gather all your favourite vegetables, include garlic, chilli, dried apricots, raisins and ginger and simply pop it all in the slow-cooker. Add a little protein (red meat once a week is great as it contains zinc and iron to support your immune system), some spice (always nice), stock, soup mix and presto! You have a healthy, indulgent dinner waiting for you when you get home from work.

Soup it up

Good old home-made soup – it doesn’t get more comforting (or healthy) than that. Chicken soup is good for the soul, they say. Well, we recommend you add garlic, ginger, celery, spinach, red pepper, onion and chilli to any protein or vegetable soup. Also add pecan nuts, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds for added fibre and nutrients.

Sauté the onions and protein in a drizzle of olive oil, add all the veggies you want, then some water and a little stock, bring to the boil then simmer until cooked. Sprinkle with seeds and nuts to serve. It really is that simple!

4. Movie-snack alternatives

Savoury Palate

Here we recommend you go with home-made popcorn. It’s a good source of dietary fibre and is lower in calories than store-bought microwave popcorn. Add a little salt for extra flavour. For other savoury snacks, opt for raw nuts, peanuts and sunflower seeds.

Sweet tooth

On the sweet side, keep snacks down to a handful every now and then. Try dried mango strips, raisins or cranberries. They’re delicious and a good source of energy.

5. Lifestyle tips

Keep moving

Don’t stop exercising! Go for walks, find some indoor exercises for the bad-weather days. Keeping your circulation going keeps you warm and keeps your heart healthy. Try and get enough sleep. We burn a lot more energy in winter trying to keep warm, so our bodies also need more sleep.

Keep bugs at bay

Top all this this off with regular hand-washing to avoid catching unwanted germs. Hand sanitiser is great to help you keep your hands germ-free when you’re on the go or using public transport.

There you have it: our top 5 health tips plus a few extras to keep you healthy this winter. Healthy food, good exercise and peaceful sleep is the perfect algorithm for staying healthy during winter.

Get all your healthy dried fruit, nuts and seeds at your nearest Montagu store. Find one here.

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