Staying motivated to keep your health/fitness plans through winter is hard. It’s cold outside so all you wanna do is stay under a blanket, watch Glow on Netflix and eat warm choc-chip cookies. As amazing as that sounds, you also don’t want to derail all your hard work with your training. So, we spoke to celebrity chef and nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin for ways we can stay motivated to maintain a healthy routine all through winter.

Keep hydrated

“During winter, many of us struggle to drink enough water. Dehydration can cause false feelings of hunger, which can lead to grazing between meals or over-estimating appetite at meal times,” says Zoe. The solution? Make water more appealing by opting for mineral water or adding fruit like strawberries and mint leaves.

Eat your protein

It’s fair to say that in winter, it feels like your appetite doubles. It’s cold so you want to eat all the comfort food to warm you up. “Protein helps to regulate appetite levels, so make sure you’re eating a source of protein at each meal and snack,” says Zoe. She suggests adding chicken, fish, lean red meat, eggs, dairy, tofu, legumes and nuts/seeds to your diet.

 Keep carbs in check 

“It can be all too tempting to overdo the carbs during winter, but it’s important to keep meals balanced. When selecting carbs, opt for slow-release options such as rice, quinoa, sweet potato, oats, wholegrain bread, high-fibre fruit and brown rice pasta,” advises Zoe.

Support immunity

Getting sick is one of the fastest ways to fall off track. When you’re curled up under a blanket at home, reaching for a block of Cadbury’s finest seems non-negotiable. Instead, remember that food is medicine (not just cold and flu tablets) and eating a nutrient-dense diet rich in immune supportive foods can help fend off infection, says Zoe. She suggests getting a big dose of oats, garlic, miso, sweet potato, pumpkin seeds, berries and fatty fish.

Get creative with vegetables

We know, you’d rather beating hot chips than veggies on a chilly night. But, as Zoe tells us, vegetables can be as comforting as traditional comfort foods. “Use cauliflower as a mash or soup, add eggplant and mushrooms to curries and pasta sauces, try zucchini noodles with a bolognese sauce and make a green-based veggie soup,” she suggests.

Meal prep

And no, we’re not just talking about meal prepping for work lunches. Give yourself a few hours on Sunday to cook some meals for dinners, too. “Having healthy meals on hand for the cool nights you arrive home late can help you stay on track,” says Zoe. “Cook a batch of dishes that can be used in a hurry, like a lentil-based soup, roast veggie lasagne, sweet potato and chickpeas curry and stews, or a veggie-rich pasta sauce.

Set a goal

If you like making challenges yourself, set a goal during winter. “It could be anything from learning how to run, cooking more meals at home or eating more vegetables each day,” says Zoe. Aim to assess your goals on a weekly basis to keep on track.

Exercise with a friend

Having a sweat sesh with a mate will make exercising more enjoyable AND help you stay committed. “It can also inspire you to try new workouts, which will help to challenge the body and prevent any exercise boredom setting in,” says Zoe.

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