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Today, the Cleveland Clinic posted 5 Foods You Should Eat This Winter. The subhead caught my eye right away: “Don’t live on a steady diet of hot chocolate,” Kristin Kirkpatrick wrote. Shoot!

I realized many years ago that the frosty air encourages me to indulge in hearty foods, sip hot coco and curl up in bed. As mammals, I believe humans harbor the innate nature of hibernation and a survivalist need to gain weight in the winter. I’ve heard it is genetically more difficult to lose weight during the chilly months. While all of this may hold a degree of truth, it is simply no excuse to become lazy.

Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and wellness manager for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Brigid Titgemeier, nutrition assistant, also contributed to the article. So what are those 5 foods they suggest we add to our winter diets?

CleClinic5Root Vegetables: Eating local is something I’ve praised before, but the Midwest climate does not lend to an abundance of winter produce. Root vegetables, however, resist the cold by growing underground. Kirkpatrick lists beets, turnips and carrots as examples, and suggests roasting carrots for a beta-carotene boost, or boiling turnips to get your vitamins C and A.

CleClinic4Oatmeal: Grandma has your best interests in mind when she forces this item into your bowl. Oatmeal is high in zinc, which Kirkpatrick says is important for proper immune function, and contains soluble fiber, associated with heart health. Try avoiding the instant oatmeal with sugary flavors, opting instead for plain instant or old-fashioned oats and add a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon or fruit yourself.

Soup: If I had to live on one food group all winter, I would choose soup. “Look for soup recipes that call for chicken broth, vegetable broth or water as the base and include a lot of vegetables,” says Kirkpatrick. Watch out for cream-based soups, which are extra fatty, and canned soups that are high in sodium. Consider brands such as Amy’s Kitchen and Tabatchnick frozen soup.

CleClinic2Spicy Tuna Roll: Who knew that trendy dinner-date was actually boosting your winter health? Tuna and salmon are both good sources of vitamin D. Kirkpatrick suggests vitamin D deficiency is associated with impaired growth, weakening of the bones and the risk of heart disease, so it is essential to get this vitamin through food during months that we are soaking up less from sunlight.

CleClinicBroccoli and cauliflower: Either you love them or you hate them, but broccoli and cauliflower are both high in vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances immune function and helps fight off sickness. So wash your hands regularly, consider a flu shot, and include these veggies in your meals.

Well, maybe this isn’t so hard after all. When making a conscious effort to eat the foods our body really needs, hot chocolate can still be a regular treat on those especially frigid days.

All pictures are those used in the article.