It is really easy through winter to increase daily caloric intake and turn to warm comfort food to get us through the short cold days, however, when we then get to the spring, we tend to regret this dietary choice as we have to work twice as hard to work it off. Whilst we may need to increase our calories slightly to cover our bodies efforts to keep us warm, in general this is limited, unless you plan on spending your winter in minus conditions and will be doing a lot of shivering!
The main thing we want to aim for through the wintery season is maintaining a balanced diet to give us energy throughout the day and to support our immune systems.
Dietary omega 3 is not only beneficial for our cellular function, it has also shown to benefit patients with depression (1). Now I am not saying we all get depressed throughout the winter, however, the short days and weather does take a toll on our energy levels and people can sway towards being more critical and negative about things during the winter. So if you feel you can head this way I would recommend increasing the amount of omega 3 foods you currently eat. Great sources include: salmon, flax seeds, nuts, seeds and other oily fish.
I don't know about you, but the long days make me sleepy. Especially mid afternoon when it starts to get dark. I just want to go and hybernate. In addition, add in a stressful situation and you have a recipe for exhaustion. Stress plays a massive impact on how we feel, in addititon we are also surrounded by so many external factors that can cause stress on our bodies. This can be anything from pollution to cleaning products. This can trigger chemicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS), which if left to their own devices can cause havoc to our bodies. Studies have shown that we can couneract these guys by eating antioxidants. Their job is to neutralise or clean up the ROS. The good news is antioxdants are also great for the immune system so by increasing dietary sources you are combatting many aspects of health at the same time. Good sources include: berries, grapes, tomatoes, carrots, oranges, walnuts, hazelnuts, green tea etc.
Another thing you want to do is reduce your sugar intake. I have spoken many of times about imbalances in blood sugar and how rubbish this can make us feel. Yet in the winter; flavoured coffees, hot chocolate, cake, buiscuits and yorkies seem to become mans best friend. I would eliminate these foods out your diet completely, get rid of those cravings and replace them with a handful of berries. The last thing you want to deal with in the short days is sugar crashes! See blogs on blood sugar balance for the science behind it! There are many more ways you can combat winter blues through nutrition. So if this interests you please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and arrange a consultation.
1:Osher Y, Belmaker R (2009) Omega-3 fatty acids in depression: a review of three studies. CNS Neurosci Ther; 15(2):128-133