What you need to know:
The nights are colder and you're feeling miserable - your natural instinct is to reach for the chips. But what foods are really going to warm you up?
Some animals hibernate as a means of making it through the cold winter months. Humans, on the other hand, have developed other survival mechanisms, one of which is to eat more. Though Kenyan winters don’t even compare to those in Europe, we all know that this is the time of year when we put on weight. In fact, research suggests that we get through about 7 percent more calories in winter than at other times of the year.
It’s during the cold spell that we reach for fast-release carbohydrate foods, such as cakes, biscuits and sweets, to boost serotonin levels as the body attempts to self-medicate its way to a better mood. And then there’s the fact that the very activity of watching TV sends your body into a kind of comatose state, which burns even fewer calories than sitting and reading. And that’s when the mindless snacking occurs. You don’t need studies to tell you that this is when hundreds of extra calories can be innocently consumed.
So rather than putting on weight by eating the wrong foods, what are the right ones? What foods will naturally keep you warm and not have you piling on the kilos?
The term “warming foods” covers a large spectrum of foods. It includes hot foods which give a napalm blast whose warming effects are over fairly quickly (foods like chilli) and gentler but longer-lasting warming foods like porridge oats and root vegetables.
GINGER: Ginger root tea is a great winter warmer. Ginger is slow acting but its warming effects tend to last longer than the powerful initial 'hit' that cayenne (see below) gives. Ginger teas can be found in supermarkets in convenient tea bags.
Omega oils: Eating oily fish - mackerel, herring, salmon, fresh tuna, and trout - makes your blood less sticky and improves your circulation.
Cayenne pepper: Just a pinch or even a few grains mixed into foods and drinks will increase body temperature and blood circulation.
Heated foods: Though the warmth that these provide may actually make you sweat more (and therefore lose heat), they are still warming as they will help to improve your circulation. If you have the time, why not try some porridge in the morning?
Get active: Most of the foods above improve circulation. Even though you may be tempted to curl up and sofa-surf, remember that physical activity not only burns calories but boosts feel-good endorphins too.
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