How To Shop Seasonally In Winter And Still Maintain A Balanced Diet

MakeWell - seasonal winter vegetables

This article is intended for customers from all countries other than Germany*

Eating a balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do for your health. The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ is entirely accurate, after all. The body needs a varied level of nutrients to function at its best, and each and every cell and bodily process relies on the vitamins and minerals you give it.

When you live in an area where crops are no longer growing because the fields are buried under a thick pile of heavy snow, you might find it difficult to continue to eat in-season products. It’s not impossible to keep up with seasonal eating, though. So, how do you eat healthy in the winter?

What is seasonal eating?

Seasonal eating just means that eating foods as close as possible to when they are harvested. In the summer months, this is a lot easier to do because many fruits and vegetables need warmer climates to thrive. Foods such as lemons, bell peppers, beets, cucumbers, carrots and zucchini are all in season when the weather is warm.

The act of eating seasonally is generally quite easy, but it can be difficult if you want or need to eat something that isn’t harvested at the time of year you need it. It’s important to stay in season as much as possible when it comes to your products, because the nutritional benefits are increased when you’re eating close to harvest time.

 

MakeWell - frozen berries
Image by Devin Rajaram on Unsplash: For summer-harvested vegetables, frozen is better than fresh in the winter months.

What are the benefits of eating seasonally?

Foods begin to lose nutrient density the minute they are harvested. The longer the foods have to travel, the more nutrient loss they can experience. This means that when food that had travelled halfway across the world to your table finally arrives, it may be depleted in some of the nutrients you’re likely eating it to gain. Eating seasonally reduces that time it takes food to get from the farm to your table, thus giving you the highest nutrient value possible.

Seasonal vegetables also hold different nutrient values. For example, fruit is abundant in the summertime, but can have high levels of fructose. Eating seasonally will keep your body balanced of nutrients throughout the year because you won’t overindulge in the sweet products all year round. It can also be less expensive to eat seasonally, because the cost for the food to arrive at your local grocer is less, and it decreases your carbon footprint due to lower food mileage.

How do you eat seasonally in the winter?

In the winter months, many of the products you see in the grocery store will be from far away, especially if you live in an area with a colder climate. In these instances, certain fruits and vegetables should be avoided altogether, or replaced with things that are in season or bought frozen.

Frozen produce is typically frozen directly after it is harvested, which leads to greater preservation of its vitamins and nutrients. If you have to choose between fresh and frozen when it comes to out-of-season vegetables, frozen can be the more nutrient-dense option sometimes.

Which products are seasonal in winter?

Depending on where you live, the foods that are in season in the winter will be different. In the UK, there are plenty of delicious and nutritious options to choose from. For example, pears are a great seasonal fruit that you can incorporate into your everyday diet, eating them as an on-the-go snack or as an after-dinner dessert.

Beetroot is also a great vegetable to eat during the winter months. It is full of folate, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C, and can be used in salads or roasted as a side dish. Turnips are another great winter seasonal vegetable because they reach maturity following the late harvest and have a sweeter taste than in earlier months.

Butternut squash and pumpkin can also be consumed during the colder months following their fall harvest. They are very versatile and can be used in dishes like stews and soups, or just eaten on their own. Parsnips and celeriac are also great winter staples that can be turned into perfect side dishes for any main course.

Kale and leeks are in season in the winter and offer great health benefits, too. Kale is known for its high vitamin content, including A, K, B6 and C along with calcium, potassium, copper and manganese. Leeks contain a high level of nutrients, including magnesium and vitamins A, C and K.

Other vegetables grown for the winter include:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbages
  • Chard
  • Parsley
  • Rocket

 

MakeWell - butternut squash
Image by Nick Collins on Unsplash: Butternut squash is a great food to eat during the colder months.

 

Eating seasonally may seem like a difficult task if you don’t know where to start, but there are a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to getting the best nutritional value from your produce with every meal.

Featured image by Nick Fewings on Unsplash