Winter is a season which is challenging when it comes to maintaining healthy lifestyle. This is because many people find it harder to exercise outdoors because it gets dark earlier. And how many of us enjoy eating cold salads in the winter months?
What then can one do in order to maintain healthy living in winter?
Facts about winter
In winter there is lack of sunlight which leads to a drop in serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is involved in sleep, memory and other neurological processes. This drop in serotonin can cause depression and food cravings. These feelings of depression and cravings can lead to one consuming high fat and high sugary foods in large quantities and hence increased calories that lead to easy weight gain.
How then do we boost serotonin levels?
Vitamin D will help book serotonin levels. It is advisable to get a bit of sunlight every day since as we know is a source of Vitamin D. In addition to getting sunlight exposure, one also has to eat foods that are rich in Vitamin D. Examples of foods that are rich in Vitamin D include;
- Cod liver oil
- Salmon, tuna fish canned in water
- Sardines canned in oil
- Liver, beef
- Egg yolk
- Orange juice fortified with vitamin D
- Yoghurt fortified with vitamin D
- Margarine fortified with vitamin D
- Ready to eat cereals fortified with Vitamin D
You can also boost serotonin with healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains i.e bran flakes, sorghum meal, mosutlhane, brown rice, brown bread, and high quality carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash.
During winter some fresh produce becomes very pricey. You can used frozen vegetables and also those that are available in winter season such as citrus fruits and pomegranates. They add a healthy dose of vitamins to the diet.
Eating for immunity
We also know that winter is a season of colds and flues. It is important to eat foods that are high in Vitamin C to boost your immunity. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables that are high in powerful nutrients such as citrus fruits, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, and pumpkin.
To fight off infections you should also increase the intake of foods that are high in zinc such as fish, poultry, eggs, milk, unprocessed grains and cereals.
What about warm foods?
Tea is the most common taken beverage in winter. Rather than always having Five Roses, include green tea for the polyphenols especially catechins which are good for combating viruses. You should also take in rooibos for its strong antioxidants.
You can have your coffee but make sure that you do not exceed more than 4 cups a day. Limit your intake of high sugar, malt powder teas as they contribute to weight gain.
Drink vegetable soup as well to keep warm, but try to make sure that you use only a little oil in preparing the soup and plenty of healthy vegetables.
With all this, its important not to skip meals at all. Have breakfast, lunch and supper with snacks in between depending on your lifestyle. If you are a busy person at work who cannot possibly manage 5 small meals then you can go for 3 meals. No skipping of meals, no matter how busy it can get.
Maintain your good health this winter.