Staying Healthy in the Winter Months

The temperature slips, the layers start multiplying and the only thing taste buds crave are warm, heavy and hearty meals. Not to mention it’s dark before you even leave work so running outside is no longer an option. Staying active, happy and healthy in the colder months can be a real challenge but where there is a will (and a little bit of warmth) there’s a way.

Diet

The foods we eat are culturally defined and sure enough in the holiday seasons, our culture boasts about creamy desserts and salty, satisfying meals. We like to curl up with our hot chocolate by the fireplace because we were taught that is a treat, and we enjoy rich, baked goods with the entire family because that is what the holidays are about. But to every situation, the other side lies in the sciences. Are we eating because our mammalian bodies think they have to hibernate? Perhaps that’s part of the problem, it makes sense: store up for the cold winter months! But how does that even work? Fatty foods high in calories are harder to digest, meaning all that energy expenditure is keeping us all warm and fuzzy inside (well at least warm.)  So whether we crave Christmas cookies or mac and cheese every winter night, it’s probably due to the convenience, the culture and the carb craving mammal inside of all of us. Here are a couple of suggestions we have to stay healthy and hearty this winter.

  • Going for hot chocolate? Try dark hot chocolate, it has antioxidants that will keep you heart healthy.
  • Legumes are a great winter fruit that is full of fiber and you can make a nice hot meal out of it! So when its brisk outside and you need something to warm you up, try making soup with low sodium stock and use lots of legumes! It’s also a great way to add in spices and herbs that can keep you healthy. Lentil soup anyone? To stay healthy this winter, say ciao to chowder and welcome in the less creamier soups.
  • Breakfast! You know how important it is and there are great warm options like egg white omelets and steel cut oats with fruit! If you skip it, you might pick bad, convenient options later in the day when your metabolism has gone into ‘save’ mode. We know bagels are quick easy and awesome, but save those bready calories for a dessert cookie maybe? Idea- breakfast for dinner .
  • Must we say it again? DRINK YOUR WATER!
  • Lastly, winter offers amazing meals from winter veggies we don’t always get enough of and traditional holiday meals. Remember to make sure you are getting a variety, i.e, you’re getting more broccoli than cream in that broccoli cheddar soup.

Exercises and classes

There’s nothing better than when the sun has finally warmed the earth up enough to go for your first spring run outside in 5 months! But the time goes quickly and before you know it, the summer is over and it’s starting to get too dark for the outdoor runs. Winter offers a good time to get inside- inside to a gym! Fitness classes are finding their way onto refrigerator schedules, everywhere. Jump on the bandwagon and try something new! Classes like Zumba and ariel yoga are fun ways to get exercise in without it feeling like an obligatory work out. How about crossfit, it’s all the rage right now! If you aren’t into the whole group/instructor workout, pick up that article you marked months ago about ‘2 weeks to a better butt’ and finally try it out! Gyms have space available for you to squat, stretch, dance and dart around so you can do exercises without machines. And as always, we suggest fitting in those at home when-no-one-is-watching workouts like lunges while you’re brushing your teeth, or inclined push ups while you’re waiting for that whole grain pasta to boil.

Staying healthy 

Eating well and staying active is a great way to stay healthy, but when the incurable common cold is floating around at the gym, it may be hard to stay healthy. Vitamins are a good way to keep your immune system ‘fit’ as your body, so you can keep your winter sick days for a really great ski trip.

  • Vitamin D may be an important supplement for the winter months, since you don’t see the sun as much. It can be found in fatty fishes like salmon and also things like eggs and cheese. With the sun hiding behind the clouds all day and everyone trying to stay inside, it is hard to get vitamin D naturally in the winter so try getting it in your meals or take a supplement.
  • See Zinc pop up in medicines around winter time? It’s because zinc is the closest thing to a cold diffuser as we’ve got. The vitamin works by enhancing your immune system, so once again- you’re going to want these to stay well in the sick season.
  • Vitamin C is also important for a healthy diet. Remember getting sick and having orange juice shoved at you? It was for the vitamin C! Your body loves this supplement for it’s antioxidant benefits.

Activities 

The cold months offer plenty of activities that some of us don’t always think of. Take advantage of things like apple picking or haunted corn mazes. Big winter events like skiing and snowboarding are a lot of fun and a great work out- plan on being sore. Ice skating is another fun event you should make time for. Then after a cold day out on the rink or up on the mountain, you have a well deserved, guilt free, hot dark chocolate waiting for you.

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