Rain, wind or snow… get yourself a winter glow
In winter the body uses energy to keep you warm. You may notice that you feel hungrier than you did in summer. Your body heats itself by burning calories and if you haven't been eating much, you will have little energy to burn for warmth. A ready to eat salad with a dressing and cheese like you ate in summer may not be enough to curb your appetite now. Your body requires extra fuel which will balance your energy levels and keep you warmer for longer.
As tempting as is to munch on comfort foods such as crisps, chips, and biscuits, the truth is they do not provide the warmth the body needs. Baked and roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and wholegrain bread and rice are better sources of carbohydrates, which are further coupled with vitamins and minerals essential for the body.
Main meals should also be based around high protein foods such as red meat, white meat, fish, eggs, beans, pulses, tempeh (fermented soya). These also provides both calories and nutrients. Having digestive imbalances can hinder the amount of nutrients you absorb from what you eat or drink. Therefore it is important to address any imbalances in the gut first. Consuming the healthiest diet in the world is ineffective if your body cannot utilise the nutrients. Choosing foods that are easy to digest can help too and soups based around vegetables, lentils or meat are satisfying to the stomach.
Additional foods that will warm your body and spirit from inside out:
- Oranges, clementines, satsumas, plums and peaches contain vitamin C and bioflavonoids that help strengthen capillaries while boosting your body’s blood flow.
- Garlic, which if taken regularly can improve circulation as it functions similarly to an antioxidant. Garlic can prevent cardiovascular disease and will balance cholesterol levels and protect the body against cold, flu and infection. Odourless garlic supplements and extracts can be purchased from health food stores.
- Ginger is a warming spice and stimulates yang-energy and energetically warms the lungs and stomach. According to Chinese tradition, dried ginger is hotter energetically than its fresh counterpart. It is also used to treat coughs and dissolves phlegm associated with colds or chronic bronchitis; asthma and cough due to a cold and coldness associated with shock.
- Cloves, cayenne pepper and cinnamon are all stimulating spices that can create heat inside the body and can be easily incorporated into dishes.
- Tinned beans and pulses are versatile store cupboard staples that can be incorporated into meals to provide extra protein and energy. There are many types out there, so do not be afraid to explore... you never know, you may like a variety of bean or lentil and conjure up a new tasty recipe yourself.
It is easy to become sluggish and stay indoors when there’s a chill in the air. However our bodies (bones, muscles) are designed to move. A walk in the park is not only great for burning some additional calories but will also get the blood flowing around your body and to your extremities. A short walk can also improve the winter blues, especially if the sun is shining too. If you don’t have a dog to walk, bring a friend with you for company or walk with your kid(s). A solo walk can be a nice time for you to connect with your inner self and be quiet meditative as you have time to clear your head and you are away from the computer or TV. If it’s pouring heavily outside or is dangerously icy, challenge yourself to a 15 minute session of rope skipping indoors. It’s a great aerobic and anaerobic workout gentle on your joints and it really does tone your body. If you dislike skipping do some dancing. Both will get you heated within minutes and so there will be no need to turn on the central heating!
Did you know ... ?
Approximately 10 million people* in the UK suffer from a condition called Raynaud’s Syndrome. This is a heightened sensitivity to the cold with some experiencing discomfort all year round. Exposure to the cold causes the arteries to go into spasm, closing off the blood supply to the extremities. The fingers and toes being the most affected. The skin turns white, and in some cases blue before eventually going bright red as the spasm fades and the blood supply is restored. Getting sufficient antioxidants from the diet and taking supplements can improve the circulation. A high strength fish oil supplement or flaxseed supplement in a oil or capsule may help. A herb called Gingko biloba can also help improve circulation but check with a health consultant first.
*Statistics from the RSA association: http://www.raynauds.org.uk/