Staying Healthy in the Winter
With the sun setting earlier and temperatures hitting freezing, it’s little surprise that activity levels drop in the winter. Add to that the cabin fever that most of us get at some point, which we try to fix by loading up on often calorie-rich comfort foods. What we get is a double-edged sword that compromises your immune system as much as your waistline. If you want to stay in shape when spring comes around, you’ll have to get over the winter blues and take charge of your health. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Get some sleep: Young people tend to stay up way past midnight and wake up later in the day, thinking they’re still getting their eight hours. But it’s not about meeting the quota; it’s about getting rest when your body needs it most. If you have trouble falling asleep, try a glass of warm milk just before going to bed.
Skip the hot chocolate: Next time you’re in the mood for a nice warm drink, reach for some herbal tea instead of coffee or cocoa. Not only are they lower in calories; they’re also better for your digestive system and give you more energy. Green tea is especially good in cold weather because it’s rich in anti-oxidants, which help fight off disease.
Opt for natural sugars: The sweet tooth is a lot more active in the winter, but don’t give in to every craving. White sugar, commonly found in candy, pastries and soda, can weaken your body’s defenses and make you vulnerable to whatever disease is going around (usually a cold or the flu). Fruits can satisfy your craving in a much healthier way; you can have them fresh or frozen.
Make some soup: Your body needs more vegetables in the winter, but if you’re not a fan of greens, soups are a great way to get some of that into your system. A hearty bowl of vegetable soup can contain two servings of vegetables (experts recommend five to six a day). Cream soups are also a good choice, but make sure to use low-fat cream and low-sodium broth.
Get out: You need your daily dose of sunshine, so head out for at least a few minutes a day. Indoor air with the added heating can be very dry and cause headaches and respiration problems. Take a short walk–wait for the warmest hour of the day if you have to–and take a moment to breathe in the fresh air. You’ll be a lot more energized and awake when you get back in.