We know winter is approaching when the temperature starts dropping and we find ourselves choosing sleep over swims, beanies over hats and nights in on the couch rather than nights out with family and friends.
Our mood and outlook on life might also drop or falter heading into winter. Even researchers agree that our emotions can vary depending on changes in season and how much light or sun exposure we receive. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), otherwise known as the winter depression, is a real thing!
It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom though when we go through this cooler change in season. Here are 6 top diet tips to take on board now, to help you beat the winter blues later.
By Stephen Eddey Principal of Health Schools Australia and qualified Nutritionist & Naturopath
Have a bottle of water on hand at all times. Taking small sips consistently throughout the day will ensure that digestion, circulation of blood, and body temperature control all occurs naturally and effectively. Without this hydration, your body has to work harder to regulate these functions, which in turn depletes our natural energy sources as the day wears on.
- GREEN LEAFY VEGGIES
What you eat can have an immense impact on your mood, energy levels and overall wellbeing. This winter, try and base your diet on lots of leafy greens. When it’s cold and dark outside you might be tempted to indulge in unhealthy comfort food, like greasy fast food or highly processed packaged snacks. Resist the temptation as the unhealthy options will more often than not leave you feeling bloated, lethargic and with unstable blood sugar levels which can impact your mood. Instead opt for lots of leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, or broccoli. These veggies are brimming with fibre and all assist in enhancing Vitamin C and Iron in the body, two minerals that are essential in the energy production process which we all need a bit more of over winter.
Antioxidants may be our first line defence when the cooler months set in. Opting for a diet rich in nutrients and therefore antioxidants may help to reduce free radical activity which can cause oxidative stress. Ubiquinol, the active and more bioavailable form of CoQ10, is a powerful antioxidant which is found naturally in our bodies and helps power the body’s cells, including the heart, liver function, and supporting overall energy. So instead of relying on your daily dose of hot coffee to keep you energised this winter, check your Ubiquinol levels. While Ubiquinol is present in foods such as spinach and tuna, excessive amounts would need to be consumed to get the best possible benefits. Ubiquinol is available in a softgel form through Australian leading supplement brands.
- GREEN TEA
Drinking green tea during the day is a great way to energise the body. It has just enough caffeine to pick you up, but not as much as coffee or black tea, so it’s less irritating on the gut. Green tea is high in antitoxins that can have a powerful effect on the body. Watch out if you like adding milk to your green tea though – it will halt the antioxidant activity. Some say green tea also promotes improved memory and blood flow around the body. Try adding a squeeze of lemon for better absorbency.
- A HEARTY BREAKFAST
If you’re hitting the snooze button in the lead up to winter, you might also be running out of time in the morning and be tempted to skip breakfast before rushing out the door. You may want to reconsider your decision. Not allowing yourself a substantial and nutritious breakfast will lead to feelings of lethargy and fatigue before the day has even started. Include some protein such as eggs in the form of an omelette with vegies or a protein smoothie with fruit and coconut milk to keep your energy levels up for longer. A hearty breakfast like eggs or a smoothie is also full of essential nutrients and will leave you more satisfied and less inclined to snack on something sweet mid-morning.
- SLEEP WELL
Just as important as any food or supplement, you should aim to get enough sleep every night – around 7 to 8 hours – so you can wake up feeling fresh and alert the next day – no matter how crisp the temperature is! A restful sleep allows your body to restore energy and heal. No amount of coffee will ever be as effective as a good night’s sleep, and in the long run a lack of sleep may have detrimental effects in regards to your health.
Consult your healthcare practitioner on strategies for your health.
Stephen Eddey is a qualified Nutritionist and Naturopath and is the Principal of Australia’s longest established natural medicine college, Health Schools Australia. He has completed a Bachelor of Complementary Medicine as well as a Masters in Health Science and PhD in Nutritional Medicine.