Winter Health Habits for Year-Round WellnessQuayd Tait
As the winter season approaches, with shorter days and colder weather, the motivation to stay fit and healthy can be difficult. Neglecting your winter health and not taking good care of your body also lay a foundation for a weakened immune system which poses a greater risk of falling ill.
Just what you don’t need during the holiday season.
As the current season starts to get busier, filled with exciting events leading up to the holidays, all these distractions also aid in steering us off course on self-care. Furthermore, once the holiday season has come to a close, the winter blues often set in.
Perhaps we experience feelings of anxiety at overindulgence or accumulated expenses, these, in turn, resulting in even more unhealthy eating habits. Exercise is also often traded for days and nights spent indoors staying warm.
This year let’s plan ahead.
Getting on top of your winter health habits before they weigh you down is key to increased energy levels, a stronger immune system and an overall healthier, happier you.
Eating For ‘Winter Health’
Have you found that during the winter months, food can often dominate our thoughts? It seems that cold weather goes hand-in-hand with an increased appetite.
The fact is that our bodies metabolise the nutrients from our food, which then flow through our blood providing our cells with the energy they need to raise our body temperature and keep us warm. But just because we really do need to eat more during winter, doesn’t mean we should lose all self-control and throw every caution to the wind.
Eating a balanced diet is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and building a strong immune system. Some of the most crucial nutrients needed by our bodies come from fruit and vegetables because they are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins, protein, fibre and antioxidants that support a wide range of bodily functions.
Starting The Day Right
Starting the day off with a good protein-packed breakfast is a great winter health habit and will help to curb food cravings during the day. Adding mushrooms to the mix will further assist in boosting your immunity, and, because they are packed with naturally occurring antibiotics, they can also help keep illnesses at arm’s length.
Carbohydrates, the good kind, are a whole food and a super source of energy which your body will convert to glucose to give you a boost. Think sweet potatoes, legumes, whole grains and even air-popped popcorn.
Incorporate more whole plant foods in your diet. These are far more nutrient-dense than fast foods, which are very low in vitamins and minerals and high in fat and salt. We are already aware that processed foods are not the best choice, but this is especially so because they can compound various allergies, pack on the pounds, and leave us just as hungry as when we started.
Even if you happen to be a meat-eater, try to incorporate more protein into your diet through plant-based foods such as legumes, kidney beans, chickpeas, mangetout, lentils, brown rice. Include seeds like chia, flax and hemp.
Plant-based proteins are easier for your body to digest. This allows for enhanced nutrient absorption, leaving you feeling more energised than lethargic. They also reduce instances of allergic reactions and food intolerances.
When you’re feeling wintertime ‘hangry’ and lacking energy, snacks and fast foods are always a convenient go-to for a quick pick me up. Don’t do it! High levels of sugar and fat are a sure-fire way to make you feel worse and lower your immunity, which is the last thing you want in winter.
Plan Ahead For Your Health
Instead, fill your fridge and cupboards with healthy, easy to grab snacks like brightly coloured berries such as raspberries, blueberries, cherries and cranberries. These are not only delicious and satisfy a sweet tooth craving, but they are typically a very rich source of antioxidants, making them actual superfruits.
If you’re looking for something more substantial as a quick and easy way to fuel your body without too much fuss, Yvonne personally loves to have one of Arbonne’s protein shakes. Chai is her favourite and she mixes it with coconut milk, which provides 20g of plant-based protein from peas, rice and cranberries.
Planning ahead will also help to keep you nourished with more nutrient-dense morsels which fill you up when you are too rushed to cook a proper meal every evening. Take some time to create a large pot of wholesome vegetable soup or slow-cooked stew which can be stored in small containers and stacked in the fridge or freezer. Having something ready to heat that is warm and nourishing is a smart winter health habit.
Because staying hydrated is essential for your bodily functions, your brain and strengthened immunity, it’s paramount that you consume at least 4 to 8 glasses of water a day. We know drinking water can be boring or especially difficult in cold weather when you are not naturally thirsty, so work on supplementing some of your liquid intake with teas with milk alternatives (milk can be mucous forming) and herbal teas, coconut water, vegetable juice, soups (the homemade kind), bone broth or even try adding some fruit to a jug of water to flavour it.
Top up your intake of essential nutrients with additional winter health-boosting supplements such as Vitamins, B, C and D, Zinc and Omega 3s. And because a healthy gut also adds to strengthening immunity, consider taking Probiotics with Prebiotics and digestive enzymes to give you all-round good gut health.
Exercise in Winter – Healthy Habits Start Here
Did you know that just 15 minutes exercise which results in an increased heart rate, is extremely beneficial?
Not only will you improve your cardiovascular health, reduce stress levels and improve your level of happiness but your energy levels will also increase, meaning that you will be able to push yourself a little harder each time. For optimum winter health benefits aim to work towards 2 and a half hours of moderate exercise and 75 minutes of intense or aerobic activity a week.
In order to help you stick to a weekly exercise plan, write down your schedule for seven days choosing your workout routines, walks in the park if the weather is favourable or whatever you feel comfortable with doing. Having a plan makes it easier to stick to. Check out Pinterest for ideas and resources that can help you get fit without even leaving your living room. If you can, rope in a friend to join you and encourage each other to stay motivated.
Yvonne Hutchins, a Reiki Master, has a natural gift for intuitive and empathic healing, also working with nutrition and botanicals to help people on their journey to wellness. Get in touch with her at www.energywithin.co.uk to discuss more ways to boost your winter health.