In winter it's hard to face a crunchy plate of greens when all you want is something warming and filling.
That's why we always turn back to those old reliable comforting foods as the colder weather sets in. Don't feel like you're letting your diet fall by the wayside though – some "comfort foods" are actually believed to help you burn fat and maintain a healthy weight!
Here are eight little wonders to turn to when you need something tasty!
1. Hot chocolate
This is definitely still a treat drink, but the antioxidants in cocoa (and specifically hot chocolate) can reduce your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is linked to weight gain around the stomach area. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon for a healthy boost – it helps to regulate your insulin and stop you from storing excess fat.
2. Roast potatoes
Who can say no to a perfectly roasted potato as Christmas draws nearer? Ireland's favourite vegetable isn't known for its fat-fighting properties, but the humble spud is full of vitamins and nutrients. One of these is the chemical allicin which flights inflammation in the body and could lead to less bloating and water weight.
Porridge oats are full of fibre and protein, a duo that slows your digestion of carbohydrates and keeps you satisfied for longer. A hot bowl of porridge is one of the most filling breakfasts around – and it keeps your blood sugar stable all morning, too.
A cuppa does more than energise you on a cold winter morning. Coffee can also kickstart your metabolism due to the presence of the antioxidant chlorogenic acid, which increases the amount of fat our bodies burn for energy. Great news! Stick to basic black and white coffee rather than a syrupy flavoured latte and you'll be laughing!
5. Chicken broth
This is the ultimate feelgood option when you're feeling under the weather – but it can help your diet along, too. Chicken noodle soup is full of protein, vitamins and fibre which boost your metabolism. And if you opt for a broth-based soup as a starter before your meal, you're more likely to notice when you are full and to consume less calories overall.
6. Red wine
A glass of wine is relatively high in calories compared to other alcoholic drinks, but it is a great heart-healthy option that could also help to inhibit that production of fat cells. That's thanks to an antioxidant called resveratrol which is found in grape skins. Hurray!
7. Chilli con carne
A big bowl of chilli jampacked with tomatoes and beans is such a great comfort food on a rainy winter night. As well as filling you up for longer, chilli generally contains spices like cayenne which can increase the amount of calories you burn by up to 50 calories. That's as good a reason to tuck in as any!
8. Mashed sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great healthy food swap for other carbs like pasta and rice. They're low in calories, high in fibre and have a high water content which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.