Make your diet healthy – even in winter – GazetteNET

Make your diet healthy – even in winter - GazetteNET

<br /> Make your diet healthy – even in winter<br />

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  • Dietician and nutritionist Dr. Fatemeh Giahi in her Hadley office. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Dr. Fatemeh Giahi displays magazines she reads and recommends in her Hadley office. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jessie Noeun and his father Sefnuon Noeun pick out apples from Apex Orchards at the Amherst Winter Farmers’ Market at the Hampshire Mall in 2017. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • John Spineti of Twin Oaks Farm, left, helps customer Carolyn Kohn choose a plant to purchase at the Northampton Winter Farmers’ Market at the  Northampton Senior Center in 2017. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette

Published: 12/13/2019 4:17:55 PM

Modified: 12/13/2019 4:17:41 PM

The weather outside might be frightful, but that doesn’t mean your relationship with food has to be a chilly one.

Though access to fresh fruits and vegetables begins to lessen in the winter compared to the surplus in the summer, there are still quite a few options in Hampshire County. Two area fresh food emporiums open their doors in December.

The Winter Farmers Market at the Hampshire Mall, formerly known as Amherst Winter Farmers Market, provides a number of vendors, including some turnips, beets and sweet potatoes from Atlas Farm in South Deerfield or more than 18 varieties of microgreens and several varieties of kale from Pelham-based Quabbin Hill Farms. The market is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. throughout the winter. And, the Northampton Winter Farmers Market brings more than 20 fresh food vendors to the town senior center, located at 67 Conz St., on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

But if it’s a struggle to make it out when there’s snow on the ground, registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist Dr. Fatemeh Giahi says there’s no need to worry.

“There’s no need to only eat exclusively fresh vegetables all the time,” Giahi said.

During the winter months, many New Englanders turn to comfort foods. Giahi, who holds a doctorate in nutrition from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is the founder of Hadley-based Valley Nutrition Counseling, encourages people to imbibe in soups and stews.

Soups and stews are a great opportunity to embrace more vegetable-based proteins like lentils or chickpeas, she said. Garbanzo, black and kidney beans are also a great option, she added.

Whether fresh or frozen, soups and stews can be loaded up with a variety of vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Adding spices like turmeric will add flavor that’s also packed with anti-inflammatory properties.

And while there are a number of trendy diets out there discouraging starchy vegetables or carbohydrates, they’re rich in fiber and nutrients.

“Too often, many are avoiding carbohydrates and starchy vegetables, but they’re actually good fuel foods,” Giahi said.

Giahi pointed to root vegetables like sweet potatoes, which offer a good source of calcium, vitamin A, C, E, B6 and B5, manganese and potassium.

Green leafy vegetables are always also available at farmers markets or even at Trader Joe’s, she said.

Popular diets like the ketogenic “keto” diet tend to be restrictive, she said. The keto diet drastically reduces the intake of carbohydrates and replaces them with fat. Oftentimes, Giahi said, people that partake in a diet like this will drop the pounds rather quickly, but gain them back as soon as they touch a carb.

“No food should be considered ‘bad’ if it’s eaten right and in moderation,” Giahi said. “We need to stop blaming one macronutrient or nutrient for causing problems. There’s no magical cure-all either. It’s all balance and moderation. That’s what our bodies need.”

Nowadays, many Americans often have an unhealthy relationship with food, she said. Many trendy diets encourage the elimination of an item from a particular food group. But any diet that eliminates items like fruits and vegetables is the wrong approach, she said. Instead, Giahi encourages balance and diversity and making smarter choices like opting for whole grains and not consuming refined carbohydrates like white flour and white rice.

Another problem with many trendy diets is that people are coaxed into eating food that they don’t like and repetitively, she said.

“Why would you eat something you don’t like? It’s always a good idea to eat a variety of things, but eating only things because a diet tells you to — especially something you don’t like — is not a good idea,” she said. “Food should make you feel good and give you energy, not starve you. We need to listen to ourselves and our hunger cues. If we’re hungry, we eat. If we’re full, we stop.”

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