Staying active and eating healthy can be difficult in the best of times. When winter’s cold temperatures and toasty treats show up, exercise and diet quickly go out the window. But why is staying healthy more difficult in winter? And what can we do to stay healthy?
Here, we’re diving into the realm of winter wellness to offer some easy, yet powerful tips to stay healthy all season long.
Winter Worries: Why does our health suffer in winter?
If you’re like most people, just the thought of winter can send shivers down your spine. While there are so many things to love about this cozy time of year, it also marks a time of low energy, high stress, and growing waistlines. So why is staying healthy so hard in winter?
Cold Weather Can Make You Lethargic
Cold temperatures naturally make us want to curl up and preserve our energy and warmth. It’s rooted in our biology to preserve our energy, warmth, and resources during a time where (historically speaking) resources were harder to come by.
Additionally, the change in natural sunlight during winter shifts our circadian rhythm and we naturally feel more tired, more often. For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, this lack of daylight and cold weather quickly snowballs into a season of fatigue, lethargy, low motivation, and depression.
Holiday Feasts Lead to Sugar Overload
The winter season is full of festive gatherings and holiday celebrations. While these gatherings bring much-needed cheer and joy to the dreary winter season, they also often bring bloating, weight gain, and brain fog all disguised as delectable treats.
The typical holiday spread tends to be high in sugar, which leads to blood sugar spikes and energy crashes. Excess sugar is known to cause inflammation, weight gain, and even weaken the immune system.
Viruses, Pain, and Other Health Issues Strike In Winter
Along with bringing seasonal illnesses, cold weather also triggers issues like asthma and joint pain. Issues like these make it difficult to keep up with regular exercise. This leads to less activity and therefore weight gain, high levels of stress, and reduced immunity.
Winter Health Tips to Stay Healthy & Fit
While winter is a challenging time to stay healthy and maintain your diet, it’s not impossible! Many diet and lifestyle techniques help us to keep our figure and have some fun. Below are a few simple, yet effective winter health tips to make this winter season your healthiest yet:
Eat By The 80-20 RuleDelicious holiday food is one of the best things about the season, so let’s enjoy it in moderation. Fill your plate with 80% healthy seasonal veggies, lean proteins, or whole grains, and leave the remaining 20% for your favorite holiday splurges.
Sneak In Extra Veggies
Carrots, squash, kale, and beets are excellent winter vegetables that offer tons of health benefits. They are rich in vitamins and antioxidants that keep your immune system strong, as well as nutrients that help you stay trim. Get the best of both worlds by sneaking in small amounts of winter veggies into your usual holiday favorites.
Make Healthier Versions Of Your Favorite Holiday Foods
Holiday foods don’t have to be unhealthy! In winter, we are blessed with a bounty of delicious fruits and veggies that are not only delicious but good for us too. Where possible, make healthy swaps in your favorite recipes or get creative with new holiday traditions. Need some inspiration? Try these immune-boosting creamy greens or these beet brownies (top with crushed candy canes to make these a special holiday treat).
Warm Your Belly
Healthy digestion starts with a warm belly. Focus on enjoying warm, nutritious foods like soups, stews, porridges, and roasted winter vegetables. Sip an herbal tea throughout the day to ward off the cold. Try fresh ginger and orange tea for immune-boosting benefits.
Be Proactive With Probiotics
Probiotics are a simple way to keep your gut healthy, regular, and strong – even through a hearty holiday season. A daily probiotic supplement can help to nurture the digestive tract for better digestion, reduced bloating, and easier weight management.
Exercise Daily – Even If For Just A Few Minutes
Exercise is essential for a healthy winter as it keeps your blood moving, warms your muscles and joints, burns fat, erases stress, and enhances your natural immunity. But setting the bar too high can be unmotivating and makes us more likely to skip out on a daily movement practice. Instead, aim to exercise for a minimum of 10 minutes per day. This is an easy goal that keeps you motivated to stick with the habit all winter long!
Get Fresh Air Once Per Day To Boost Your Energy
If you’re not up for exercising outdoors, try to make it out once per day to get some fresh air. A quick stretch or walk outside can increase your mental alertness, boost your energy, and improve your mood.
De-Stress At Least Once Per Day
It’s no news that the holidays are a stressful time, but simply pushing through the stress is not the best option. Chronic, unresolved stress is a major contributor to both short-term health issues (like weight gain and insomnia) and more serious long-term illnesses (like heart disease and Alzheimer’s). Take back control by setting aside time each day to do a stress-relief activity of your choice. Try dancing, take up a new hobby, or call a good friend for a laugh.
For a holistic approach to stress relief, consider giving your adrenals a break with the help of adaptogens. Adaptogens like ashwagandha can support tired adrenal glands and protect the immune system through winter stress and beyond.
Wishing You a Winter of Wellness!
You deserve to enjoy the beauty of winter, the joy of the holidays, and the spirit of the season while feeling healthy, fit, and strong! With these tips, you can start on the path to better winter wellness while still enjoying the best that the season has to offer.