Winter weather is upon us, even though winter doesn’t start officially for almost two weeks. With cold temperatures, comes a change in diet for most of us. Even die-hard salad eaters will stray for warmer pastures. It begs the question: how do you eat healthy during the winter? Here are a few tips to keep you healthy and satisfied all winter long.
Fatty Food: Everyone knows that a few extra pounds will keep you warmer during those cold night, but let’s assume you own enough blankets and coats to avoid needing to gain weight for the winter the way our ancestor did. It’s still important to up your healthy fat intake in the colder months. Your body needs fats to help facilitate the absorption of vitamins A, E, K and D. When you don’t get enough vitamins, it can cause depression and be damaging to your health. Sunlight is important for vitamin D absorption, and most people get less sun when temperatures fall. To make up for the lack of sunshine, eat foods high in healthy fats like fish, nuts, nut butters, olives, avocados and tofu. Getting more vitamin D absorbed in you system will also help chase away those winter sniffles.
Hot Food: This may be a given, but when it’s cold outside, we want to be warm and toasty, and hot meals allow us to warm our insides quickly and efficiently. Most people crave hot food during cold weather, so it’s perhaps not much of a departure from your natural instincts. Nevertheless, hot food tends to be less healthy. Stick to soup and stew recipes made with seasonal vegetables, or veggie casseroles. These are typically easy to make and give you the opportunity to load up on nutritious vegetables without having to eat cold salads. Many winter recipes utilize the slow cooker, which can make for an easy dinner that’s ready when you get home.
Comfort Food: Many people get depressed in the winter. It’s their body’s natural reaction to the loss of sun exposure called seasonal affective disorder. There are a few ways to combat the winter slump, but an easy one is to up your carbohydrate intake. Many people report a noticeable mood change after they have eaten energy rich high carb foods. Just make sure you are skipping the cookies and cake and going instead for whole grain breads, pastas, brown rice, and legumes.
Hydration: Last but not least, don’t forget to stay hydrated during the cold weather. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water as it is, but when the temps drop, drinking a big glass of cold water is the furthest thing from our minds. To supplement your interrupted hydration routine, try making it a point to have a warm cup of herbal tea a couple of times a day. Hot black tea is great too, and is full of antioxidants; just make sure you don’t over do it with the caffeinated stuff. Having a cup or two of coffee a day is fine, but you shouldn’t count it towards your hydration goal. Don’t forget that if you are eating soup, you are consuming lots of liquid thereby killing two birds with one stone. Staying hydrated will make you feel more alert and energized, and will also keep your skin from drying out as easily.