Hygge is a Danish word that means feeling warm and comfortable. It refers to simple actions that bring comfort, coziness, and warmth. So hygge and healthy eating requires a balanced diet consisting of nourishing and comforting meals perfect in winter. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of hygge and healthy eating for a nourishing winter. In places where winters are too cold, nourishing meals that provide warmth and coziness can greatly contribute to mental and physical health. With a few basic principles, you can get through winter strong.

Watch your eating habits

Due to the cold, people tend to stay inside more, so they are generally less active, which may lead to weight gain. Winter holidays have been shown to contribute to weight gain. During Christmas and New Year, celebratory dinners include many options of delicious foods most people don’t want to miss. You can enjoy holiday dinners by paying attention to your satiety cues while not limiting yourself from sharing foods with your loved ones.

Don’t forget to eat your fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that support the immune system, which is especially important in flu season. Eating enough fruits and vegetables provides you with nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E, some B vitamins, and folate, which are a few of the many nutrients that support the immune system.

Adults are recommended to consume five portions of fruits and vegetables daily. Eating a recommended amount of fruits and vegetables can help improve bowel, heart, and metabolic health. Luckily, winter offers a wide range of fruits and vegetables to choose from. You can enjoy citrus fruits, pomegranates, kiwi fruits, pears, cranberries, and vegetables such as winter squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, beets, and so on.

Watch your caffeine intake

Comforting hot drinks such as coffee and tea are great for feeling warm in the cold, but only if you watch your caffeine intake.

Too much caffeine can cause a fast heartbeat, sleep problems, irritability, anxiety, and more. Caffeine tolerability differs from person to person; however, in general, it’s advised not to consume more than 400 mg of caffeine daily. You can substitute your hot drink with no or less caffeine-containing options such as matcha, decaffeinated coffee, golden milk tea, and hot chocolate made with cacao.

Get your vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for many aspects of health, including bone health and the immune system. Yet, few foods, such as fish, cod liver oil, beef liver, egg yolk, and vitamin D-fortified products, such as dairy, juices, or cereals, contain vitamin D.

Sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D. When exposed to sunlight, your skin produces vitamin D; therefore, it’s essential to go outside and get some daylight frequently, if not daily.

Vitamin deficiency is common, especially in winter. You can consult your healthcare provider to see if you need vitamin D supplementation. Your doctor will guide you on the appropriate dosage and duration of use.

Get enough protein

Eating enough protein is needed for the repair, growth, and development of cells. Insufficient protein intake can cause feeling weak, disrupt the immune system, cause muscle weakness, brittle hair and nails, etc.

Adding a mix of animal and plant-based protein sources to your diet is best to meet daily protein intake. Also, incorporating various protein sources into your meals can increase satiety. Adding chicken to your vegetable soup or chickpeas to your salads can be a great way to increase protein intake and improve satiety.

The role of quality carbohydrates

Carbohydrates contribute to most of the energy your diet provides. That’s why it’s crucial to choose complex carbohydrates that not only give you energy but also nourish your body with fiber, vitamins, and minerals they provide.

Desserts containing added sugars can be tempting, especially in the winter holidays. Although there is nothing wrong with consuming those foods in moderation, it’s advised to choose complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates on a daily basis.

Complex carbohydrates you can incorporate in your meals include but are not limited to whole grains, beans, legumes, peas, and starchy vegetables.

Choose healthy fats

Eating healthy fats contributes to health since fats are essential for many functions of the body, including producing some hormones and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, and E. It also provides physical protection for organs and keeps the body warm.

You should minimize saturated and trans fats while consuming more unsaturated fats to support cardiovascular and overall health.

For example, beef, pork, poultry, lard, butter, cheese, coconut, and palm oil contain saturated fats.

Unsaturated fats (healthy fats) are found in fish, olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds but are not limited to these options.

Stay hydrated

Most people find drinking water easy in hot weather but need to remember about drinking water as often in winter. Remember, being thirsty can cause concentration problems, mood changes, and poor memory.

Try drinking water before feeling thirsty because if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated to a degree. Staying hydrated helps your cells function properly, so it’s important even if it doesn’t seem like it.

Basic principles of healthy eating apply in winter, too. Eating nourishing foods that are comforting can help you through winter while maintaining and improving your health. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, watch caffeine intake, eat balanced, nourishing meals, and get sunlight.

by Merve Ceylan, RD


  1. Nutrients. Winter Holidays and Their Impact on Eating Behavior—A Systematic Review.
  2. Nutrients. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System–Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection.
  3. National Health Service. 5 A Day: what counts?
  4. Mayo Clinic. Caffeine: How much is too much?
  5. Harvard School of Public Health. Vitamin D.
  6. UCLA Health. Are you getting enough protein? Here’s what happens if you don’t.
  7. Food Hydrocolloids. Revisiting the role of protein-induced satiation and satiety.
  8. MedlinePlus. Complex carbohydrates.
  9. American Heart Association. Dietary Fats.
  10. American Heart Association. Are you drinking enough water during winter months?

Source: HealthNews

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