Eating well this winter 

Blog Article | By Simplyhealth | 28 November 2022

For many of us, the festive season can be an indulgent time of year, from mince pies to, chocolate selection boxes and more Christmas dinner leftovers than you can handle. But throughout the period and going into the winter season, it’s important to balance the Christmas treats with foods that will help look after our immunity too.

Christina McAfee, Clinical Product Manager at Simplyhealth and HCPC Registered Dietitian has some top tips to help you create nutritious meals to boost your immunity this winter:

While we all want to look after our immune systems, this winter remember that there is no single food that will boost your immunity. The key is to focus on a well-balanced diet that contains all the essential vitamins and minerals we need.

Plate of healthy food

A varied, balanced diet

A top tip to increase the variety of your diet is to include foods or food groups with meals that you wouldn’t normally, for example adding pulses or beans to curries and chillies or by adding a small handful of nuts or seeds to salads or soups.  These are easy ways to add a boost of fibre, protein, healthy fats and vitamins to your diet with minimal effort.


Keeping our immune systems functioning well is essential to help us ward off common colds and other infections and to help us recover quicker when we do become ill.  Foods including beans, dried fruit, nuts, whole-grains and green leafy vegetables contain nutrients such as vitamin A, Vitamin C and zinc, which are essential for your immune system.


The age-old recommendation of having 5 portions of fruit and veg a day will also help you to get enough of these vitamins on board.  Research suggests that only 27% of 19 to 64-year-olds in the UK actually achieve this!* Try adding extra vegetables to soups, stews and casseroles this winter.  Dusting off your slow cooker can be a great way to create more veggie-based dishes. Including fruits with breakfast or tucking into them as snacks are obvious ways to increase your intake, but opting for seasonal fruit-based desserts, like apple crumble or pear cobbler can also contribute to your 5-a-day.

Family enjoying a winter sunset

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a key part in maintaining a healthy immune system too, and while we can get some from foods such as oily fish like salmon or mackerel, egg yolks or fortified breakfast cereals, the main source of this vitamin comes from sunlight on our skin. Around 1 in 6 adults and almost 20% of children in the UK have vitamin D levels lower than government recommendations.2 Between the months of October and early March everyone in the UK is recommended to consider taking a vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms per day.  This can help maintain your immune health, boost your mood and contribute to healthy bones and teeth. If you have dark skin or spend little time outdoors, you may need to consider a vitamin D supplement all year round.  Whatever your situation, if you choose to take a vitamin D supplement all year, 10 micrograms per day should be enough and there should be no need to take more than this unless you’re recommended to by a healthcare professional. 

Consider probiotics

There is some evidence to show that probiotics may help support the immune system, especially at this time of year.  Probiotics are live bacteria that are found in some foods, particularly in yoghurts that contain live or active cultures, which will be stated on the label.  Fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha and miso soup are rich in probiotics and may help contribute to a healthy immune system, alongside a well-balanced diet.

A helping hand from Simplyhealth

Through our health plans, customers can access our SimplyPlan app which includes a 24/7 online GP service, where GPs are on hand to provide advice and reassurance for any health concern you may have.5


To enjoy 24/7 online GP access and much more, get our 1-2-3 Health Plan from £13 a month for parent and child cover.

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