Winter woes: Can your craving for fried foods be harmful?
As winter arrives, most people long to eat food that is deep-fried and served hot. Here’s why fried foods are harmful in the long run, and some tips on how you can stay healthy during the cold weather.
When it’s winter, all we seem to want to eat is warm pakoras, hot chips, and other deep-fried foods. I am always fascinated by food bloggers who go crazy over fried foods as soon as the weather gets colder and post images of all their favourite dishes online.
In traditional Chinese medicine, it was believed that the body is particularly sensitive to cold foods in the winter. The same belief holds true in Ayurveda as well.
It is said that the adrenal glands are particularly sensitive to cold foods when the weather is chilly outside. During winter, your body does not do well with raw and cold foods. This might be the reason that you seem to crave warm foods when winter arrives.
Why do you crave fried foods?
One of the reasons why you crave fried foods is due to the fact that your body seeks warmth. Also, your body naturally seeks out oil and fat during the cold in order to combat the dryness of winter.
Your body also needs more protein and more fat during this time. The dryness which you see in your body’s external skin is also present internally. Since your body requires fat, should you be eating this fat in the form of fried foods?
What will fried foods do to your body in the winter?
- Eating more fat in the form of deep-fried foods can be very challenging on your body’s systems as digestion can weaken during the winter.
- Summer foods are generally lighter and traditionally the grains, fruits and vegetables available in summer are also lighter. You will need to consciously fire up your digestion in winter.
- There is a difference in the digestion of deep-fried foods and foods higher in healthy fats. Fried foods can create higher levels of oxidative stress in your body, especially when the source of those fats is not known. If you choose to eat these foods in a restaurant, there is a chance that these are recycled fats. Eating recycled fats can take several hours of digestion and when those bad fats stay in your body for too long, they turn rancid and create free radical damage.
It is simply scary how many people have liver challenges like fatty liver, gallstones, and symptoms and conditions related to poor liver health. When you have a pre-existing sub-optimal liver function, frequently eating fried foods can cause conditions like high cholesterol, skin problems, hormone issues, poor sleep, and mood fluctuations.
- If your body is unable to break down the poor-quality fats in fried foods, you will struggle with a range of digestive symptoms like heartburn, bloating, indigestion, and poor elimination.
Nuts, spices and tea
- Ideally, fats should come from healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, ghee, and coconut.
- While you should focus on eating more proteins and fats in the winter, compared to the carbohydrates in the summer, you also need to remember that your digestion needs to be fired up. Think of how you keep stoking a dying fire by moving the logs around with a stick or adding some fat. Similarly, you need to stoke your digestion with heating spices like ginger and cinnamon. Having some strong ginger tea with your meal is a wonderful way to support any change in your diet during the winter.
If you do have that occasional craving for some fried foods in winter, take the traditional route. Fry some fresh onion pakoras in fresh coconut oil and eat just a little bit. The idea is to keep the quantity that you consume limited. This is very important.
- Your body has the capability to digest your craving for that fried pakora. It probably does not have the capability to digest the pakora in excess. Maintaining a limit in quantity of consumption will ensure that your liver can actually release adequate bile to break down the fats.
Having a light snack in the evening with some brewed ginger tea and making sure that you have this just once a week will be a safe way to enjoy your cravings without causing havoc to the systems within your body. It is also important to see that you eat balanced fibre-rich meals for the rest of the time.
This is the season of festivals as well. If you have some fried foods and keep eating fatty sweets the rest of the time, it will impact your weight, digestion and health. Stay on course as much as possible, but allow yourself some wiggle room every now and then.
(Images credit: Shutterstock)
Edited by Asha Chowdary