Winter is now upon us, and with it comes the usual suspects: dark mornings, evening showers, wavering motivation to get moving outside, and bouts of the flu. Keeping all this in mind, there are some great practices we can adopt to keep ourselves well and healthy during the winter months.
- Choose oats for breakfast
Cold mornings call for a breakfast that warms you from the inside out, and porridge is a fantastic and healthy choice. Oats are rich in soluble fibre, filling you up and aiding with weight management. Add some protein such as nuts, seeds or Greek yoghurt to support lean muscle development.
Try my basic porridge recipe here.
- Prep breakfast the night before
When the mornings are dark and cold, staying in bed past your alarm is a tempting option. Don’t skip breakfast and instead whiz up a healthy smoothie the night before. Try 1 cup milk, 1 cup frozen berries, ¼ cup Greek yoghurt, ½ tablespoon of almond butter, and a dash of cinnamon. Pour into a jar and drink on your way out the door.
- Use a slow cooker
Nothing beats a warm hearty meal for dinner on a cold winter’s day. Invest in a slow cooker and you can have delicious and nutritious meals on the table as soon as you get home from work. Build your slow cooker creations by combining good quality lean protein (e.g. free range chicken) , a good quality fat (e.g. extra virgin olive oil), some complex carbohydrates (e.g. quinoa) and plenty of seasonal vegetables (e.g dark leafy greens, root vegetables etc).
- Buddy up with a friend and have ‘active catch-ups’
Keeping healthy and active is all about habit formation and consistency. In winter you’ll often find your motivation a little lagging, so it’s the perfect time to grab a friend and get moving together. Rather than meet up for a movie, rug up and go for a hike instead. Love coffee? Ditch the café and go for a walk while sipping on a hot beverage along the way.
- Every Sunday, make a soup for the week
Soup meets the criteria for everything you crave when it’s cold outside – warm, nourishing, nutritious, and satisfying. Typically low in calories but filling, soup is fantastic for weight management and it’s an easy way to get an abundance of vegetables. Make it your mission throughout winter to cook up a new batch each week.
- Stay hydrated
When the weather is cold we typically fail to drink enough water, and thirst can often be mistaken for hunger. To avoid unnecessary snacking, aim for 2 litres of water per day. An easy way to stay hydrated in the cool months is to sip on warm herbal teas, and always remember to carry a water bottle with you.
- Boost your Vitamin C and Zinc intake
During cold and flu season it’s important to strengthen your immune system, and Vitamin C and Zinc are both antioxidants meaning they help support your body to do just that. Great sources of Vitamin C include all brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, while Zinc can be found in mussels, oysters, red meat, pumpkin seeds, and poultry.
- Embrace incidental exercise
Sometimes the weather just gets in the way of your plans, like when the rain prevents you from going for that run, or it’s just too cold to leave the house for morning yoga. Accept that this might happen from time to time, and really focus on embracing incidental exercise every day as a way to maintain your activity levels. Make it a rule to stand not sit on the train, always take the stairs rather than the elevator, and choose a café further away to get your coffee from to add more steps into your day.
- Roast seasonal vegetables in batches
One of the tips I give all my clients regardless of the season, is to batch cook up roasted vegetables at least twice per week. Choose from a variety of colours such as red onion, garlic, sweet potato, yellow capsicum, swede, carrots, broccolini and cherry tomatoes, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary, and roast to perfection. Store in the fridge for 2-3 days and add to scrambled eggs in the morning, eat alongside tuna for lunch, and serve on the side of baked chicken breast in the evening. Easy!
- Don’t forget Vitamin D
Sunlight is our main source of Vitamin D in Australia, and during winter the shorter days and gloomy weather make it harder for us to maintain adequate levels. Vitamin D is important for bone health, mood, and overall wellbeing, so if you are concerned you are at risk of deficiency, chat to your GP about testing your levels and taking a supplement.
I recently chatted to MyDeal about keeping well during winter, you can read all about it here.