Eating Healthy through the Winter
Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables helps provide essential nutrients and maintain a healthy weight
Unless you enjoy year-round tropical sunshine, during the winter your stored serotonin, the brain’s “feel good” chemical, may decline. You may crave carbohydrates as comfort food and exercise less. Though cold, gloomy weather alone doesn’t increase calorie need, the result can be added pounds. Dried fruit, raw vegetables, crackers and yogurt are better choices than candy, cookies and junk food to maintain a reasonable weight. One cup of microwaved plain popcorn contains only thirty-one calories and even with extra butter has only sixty. We don’t always need three meals a day, either. A hearty lunch out can be balanced by a light snack for supper. And if we know we’re having a big evening meal, we can eat lightly at noon.
We still need five servings of fruit and vegetables daily and can find them in seasonal root vegetables like sweet potatoes, squashes and pumpkins and in cranberries, apples and grapes. Whole grain cereals, a multivitamin supplement and various teas are also beneficial in the winter. In northern latitudes with little sunshine, we might also consider vitamin D supplements of 1,000 IU per day.
Like other mammals, humans tend to become less active during the winter. Avoid the urge to hibernate! Yes, it’s more trouble to go out, but even if you’re wintering in your RV in a cool climate, you don’t have to join a gym or fitness club to exercise. You can practice stretching, yoga or Tai Chi in a small space. Even on days when you really don’t feel like it, ten minutes’ workout is better than none. Inside activities like mall walking, bowling, dancing and indoor tennis can be balanced with outdoor walking or swimming at the Y. If you’re in snow country, cross-country skiing even for a novice.
Many of us gain a few hard-to-lose pounds over the holidays, surrounded as we are by snacks and finger foods. Here are some helpful tips to cope with the overload:
• Don’t go to a party hungry
•Take small portions
• At buffets, socialize far from the table
• One large festive meal means snacks for the rest of the day
• Ration snacks
• Avoid dips
• When food is urged on you, practice saying “no” politely
For more information check HealthFinder.gov or access the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s online information under its Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.