When the winter weather gets frightful, good nutrition can be challenging. The holidays bring sugary treats that increase weight gain and immunity-lowering inflammation. Added to the mix are longer periods of low sunshine meaning limited natural vitamin D, and an increase in the body’s production of the hormone melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep, making you feel sluggish. Follow these five nutrition tips this winter to fight back.
1. Eat for Immunity
Cold weather means confined spaces and exposure to germs that cause colds and flu. Your best defense is a strong immune system. Limit holiday cookies and candy and take advantage of seasonal pumpkin and sweet potatoes, packed with antioxidants, into low-sugar desserts. Enjoy broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach alone or incorporate them into warming soups, stews, or casseroles along with garlic and onions to fight against pathogens. Snack on citrus fruit for extra vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.
2. Up Your Vitamin D
Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D supports your immune systems and lifts your mood. Since winter brings lower sunshine, your chances of getting this important nutrient from the sun decrease. Make up for the difference by increasing your intake of vitamin D. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines will fill in the gap along with with vitamin D fortified dairy foods and eggs. Find ways to add mushrooms and avocados to your prepared dishes.
3. Go Seasonal With Fruits and Veggies
Fresh, local fruits and veggies in the summer are great for battling a lack of important nutrients, but you can fight the battle with seasonal and regional produce in winter varieties. Root vegetables, pumpkin, cabbages, and winter greens are good this time of year. Choose fruits harvested in late fall such as apples, pears, grapes, and pomegranates. Don’t overlook frozen fruits and veggies, as they are shock-frozen after harvesting, saving a good bit of nutritional value.
4. Keep Your Weight in Check
‘Tis the season to gain weight. In winter, people are indoors earlier and the evenings are long. Inside activities like binge-watching TV can cause binge snacking. Add that to all the holiday party foods, and the battle of the bulge becomes fierce. To fight back, turn off the TV and eat at the table, use a smaller plate for portion control, and fill half the plate with veggies instead of carbs. Brave the elements and take a walk or sign up for an indoor exercise class.
5. Warm Up With Lots of Spices
Hot drinks with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg warm internal organs and muscles, boosting blood circulation and metabolism. These spices help curb sugar cravings, and cinnamon is well-known for its insulin stabilizing properties. Jazz up your cooking with spices such as chili peppers and turmeric which benefits the gastrointestinal tract and decreases inflammation and joint pain.
Winter is the most challenging season to stay healthy. Use these tips to help keep away illness and put you in a better mood. Healthy eating this winter will benefit your year-around good health.