With winter fast approaching, and the temperature dropping it can become a bit of a problem for many of us to stick to our nutritional habits that seen us do so well over the summer. The cold weather and shorter days can bring with it an increase in colds + flu's, fatigue and the risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Here are 5 tips to help you through the winter:
1. Eat Plenty of Fruit + Vegetables!
With an increased risk of catching the cold or flu, it is really important that you are supporting your immune system. By increasing your intake of fruit + vegetables, you will be getting more antioxidants as well as vital vitamins and minerals.
Make use of frozen varieties as well. Nutritionally they contain the same as the fresh varieties and at this time of year, when fresh fruit and vegetables tend to be a bit more expensive (If out of season) then it could work out to save you some money.
Aim to eat 5+ portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which is required for a number of processes including:
- Helps to regulate more than 50 genes in a variety of body tissues.
- The control of normal calcium and phosphate levels in the blood.
- The absorption of calcium and phosphate in the small intestine, their mobilisation from bones and the re-absorption in the kidneys.
With the days being shorter and the amount of sun being shorter, you are at a much higher risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency. This risk is even higher if you spend most of the day inside, such as in an office or being house bound. There are a number of steps you can take to make sure you are getting enough vitamin D.
The main way of getting vitamin D is from the sun. However, since we live in Britain it can prove difficult to get this, particularly in the winter. Vitamin D can also be found in various foods including:
- Oily fish such as Sardines, Herring, Salmon and Mackerel.
- Red Meat + Liver
- Fortified foods such as spreads and some breakfast cereals
The recommended intake for Vitamin D in adults is 10 micrograms per day.
If your job or daily routine sees you having limited exposure to the sun, you may want to consider a vitamin D supplement to ensure you are getting enough.
3. Watch Your Portion Sizes
During the winter when we are indoors more, people are more likely to reach for unhealthy snacks and comfort food. If this is the case and you find yourself being less active it is important to take note of your calorie intake.
There are a number of steps you can take to help keep on top of this:
- Try to eat your meals at the table; when we eat on the sofa watching the TV we are less aware of how much we are eating and can lead to us eating more than we need.
- Use smaller plates. This is a good trick to stop you from over eating. If you use a big plate it will look like you don't have very much, whereas a small plate will look like you have more and as a result, tricking your brain into thinking you are eating more.
- Thinking about having seconds? Wait for about 20 minutes before getting more. It can take a little while for you to feel full, so if you wait 20 minutes before getting seconds, you might find you actually feel full.
- Measure out your portions. Instead of just scooping things onto your plate, use something to measure out what you are having. i.e a cup of rice. This way you will have the same amount each time you eat that food. It is true that we tend to eat with our eyes first.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
One big problem over the winter is hydration. Many people don't drink as much due to it being colder. It is just as easy to become dehydrated in the winter as it is in the summer. Just because you are not sweating, it doesn't mean you aren't losing fluids. Look at your breath when you are outside in the cold, this is you losing fluids through water vapour.
You should still be aiming to consume 2 litres of water a day (This does include tea and coffee too, just be careful not to drink too many as you don't want to have too much caffeine)
5. Keep on Moving!
Just because the weather has turned cold and miserable, it doesn't mean you should stop the exercise you done so well with over the warmer months. Try find an indoor activity that you enjoy which you can do over the winter instead of running outside if you are not up to that. There are many classes and sports which you can do inside which will help keep the weight off over winter. If you are not exercising as much, try increasing exercise elsewhere in your day:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Park the car slightly further away and walk into work
- Walk across the office to ask your colleague a question instead of emailing them