How To Eat Well In Winter

Wellbeing Dec 28
Over the festive period, life doesn't have to be all about high calorie consumption. Nutritionist Sybille Gerbhardt learned the importance of eating right during her 15-year career as a model. After combatting low energy and recurring sickness through changes to her diet, she came to believe that food, mood and wellbeing are linked. Now a qualified practitioner of naturopathy, she sat down with us to share her tips for eating well in season of comfort and joy.

What is your philosophy when it comes to nutrition?

When it comes to nutrition, the problem now is not that people don’t know what’s good or bad, but why they don’t act on it! You know you should be eating organic food, eating lots of greens, integrating natural foods, local foods, which are grown in our environment, they have more nutrition. My advice is to really sit with the food and be mindful. See how you feel afterwards. Do I feel bloated? Do I have more energy? It’s not just about what food you eat, but take it further. You need to listen to your body. A lot of people ignore the feeling like if they get a headache, they take a pill instead of going out and getting some fresh air, drinking some water, taking a break.

Photo © Sybille Gebhardt via Instagram

What would you recommend that people eat over the holiday season?

I would look at local and seasonal things, so things like kale. There’s lots of things that are very natural which go well with kale. If you eat meat, then obviously, it’s so important to see where it’s coming from. You need to look for grass-fed, because if animals are being grain-fed, it’s a huge stress to their systems. An animal like a cow wouldn’t choose to eat grains naturally, so they get ill more easily, and then they have to be given antibiotics, which contaminates the meat. It’s a really good idea to eat game at this time of year, because they are animals which have been exercising a lot more.

Photo © inSybille Gebhardt via Instagram

What are your favourite ingredients for winter?

I personally always cook with ghee or coconut oil when I am cooking with fats, depending on the taste you would like. Ghee is clarified butter which doesn’t change its molecular structure, so it’s very good for you. Stews are really great for winter, they take all this nutrition and you simmer it. Coconut oil goes very well with pumpkin and squashes. Think about colours, you want to get lots in there, and make sure you use lots of vegetables.

Photo © Sybille Gebhardt via Instagram

Tell us about your favourite breakfast.

Instead of using grains, one of my favourite breakfasts is to use quinoa, which is actually a seed. There’s is a red variety which is lovely, and you can dry roast it in a pan, without any oil or anything, until it starts smelling really lovely and nutty. You can put some nuts on a cooking tray - almonds, any nut you want - and you dry roast them. Then you put the quinoa in a bowl, and you put the nuts on top with some Greek yoghurt, then you grate the zest of a lemon and you put a bit of sea salt into it and some olive oil. You have everything you need to get nutrients, you have the quinoa and the nuts for energy, the oil helps you get your digestive system. It’s a really good dish to start the day.

Photo © Sybille Gebhardt via Instagram

What can you recommend as an easy dish for a festive dinner party?

I love fish cooked with a salt crust. It’s super easy! People think it’s very complicated but you you get a whole fish and you put it on a baking tray, and you cover it with sea salt, lots of it, and you put it in the oven and cook it until it’s golden brown. For models, living in a model apartment, I might also make a quick stir fry or a stew. You chop up some vegetables and cook it with chicken and chorizo, is a lovely combination for winter.

Photo © Sybille Gebhardt

What about sweet treats?

I do a chocolate pudding which isn’t dairy, it’s got avocado and raw cacao powder and maple syrup, that makes a chocolate mousse. There’s always a way around using a lot of refined sugar, and you can still make it taste amazing!

People drink a lot of alcohol around this time of year, is it always a bad idea?

I do drink alcohol, I think it’s nice to have it sometimes, but it has to absolutely always be in moderation. Choose your alcohol wisely, and you can spend a bit more on if you drink a bit less, so buy a small amount of red wine but get the best quality you can. There are so many organic wines out there, and red wine is full of antioxidants. A lot of girls I know drink red wine, it’s one of the only alcohols which has any kind of health benefits at all.

Photo © Sybille Gebhardt via Instagram

And what might you recommend to those who want to avoid alcohol?

There’s some great virgin cocktails, but you have to be careful, because they can be full of sugar. I take something like cold, sparkling water, with a bit of apple cider vinegar, and a tiny bit of maple syrup. It’s really nice, it gives you the feeling that you are having something a bit more interesting. The sweet and the sour work really well together, it’s a bit like a prosecco or something. Then there’s another drink which a client of mine has when he wants to not drink, which is tonic water with angostura bitters, and it gives him the feel like he’s drinking something more substantial. He literally takes it to every party, a bottle of Angostura bitters but it really works! [laughs]

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