While you’re fighting off the winter chills with coats, scarves and a sudden devotion to the closest heater available, be sure to remember that the right diet also plays a big role in keeping you warm on chilly days. It might seem really obvious to say that certain foods will warm you up – but it’s not as simple as sipping a mug of soup or hot chocolate. Rather, there are certain warming foods that have thermogenic (heat generating) properties, and help to actively raise your body’s core temperature as you digest them.
Did You Know? Traditional Chinese medicine divides most foods into the category or warming, cooling or neutral. Warming foods are said to raise the body’s yang energy, while cooling foods nourish the yin. Practitioners recommend a daily balance between cooling and warming foods, to maintain a healthy balance of yin and yang. More warming foods are recommended for people with imbalanced yin and deficient yang; symptoms of this include a slow metabolism, a pale complexion, cold extremities and a tendency to get cold easily, as well as frequent low moods and tiredness.
With a diet that includes the right type of fats, proteins and carbohydrates, as well as a touch of the right natural herbs and spices, you can keep warm and toasty with what’s on your plate, just as effectively as what’s in your winter wardrobe! Check out some of our favourite warming foods for the chilly season – some of them might surprise you…
A dash of ginger in your soup or tea can make all the difference. This warming spice boosts the circulation, the digestive system and the immune system – helping to keep you warm while also warding off colds and ‘flu.
A spoonful of coconut oil provides healthy medium chain fats, which are converted into energy, rather than being stored in fat cells. This action helps to raise your core temperature, playing an important role in keeping your body warm. It’s great for your immune system as well.
Oatmeal, brown rice and millet make wonderful warming dishes. Eaten hot, they provide immediate warmth, while also giving you a supply of complex carbohydrates needed to fuel your body and keep those shivers away.
Whole grains are also a good source of magnesium and B vitamins, which support the adrenal glands and the thyroid, helping to regulate your body temperature more effectively.
This stimulating tea isn’t just a great pick-me-up; it’s also the perfect way to warm up. Green tea gets its thermogenic (heat producing) properties from its high caffeine content, as well as its antioxidant flavonoids known as catechins.
These little nuts are high in vitamin B3 (niacin), which causes blood vessels near the skin to dilate, boosting slow circulation and creating a warm sensation. Peanuts make a tasty, convenient warming food, and also boast a high healthy fat and protein content.
Yes, really! Despite its chilly temperature, ice cream can actually your body warmer. This is because it tends to be quite high in fat, protein, and carbohydrates, which require more energy to digest. A bite of ice cream will make you feel cooler at first, but once your body gets busy digesting it, you’ll start to warm up a bit.
Of course, this fun fact shouldn’t be an excuse to over-indulge. If you’re looking for a low-calorie alternative to ice cream, a fruity homemade popsicle or just a glass of ice water will have the same effect. Your body will generate more energy, and therefore more heat, as it works to warm up the chilly food or water to a more “normal” temperature. Plus of course, drinking more water will keep your whole system happily hydrated.
Eat healthy and stay cosy – this handy list proves it’s easier than you might think!