Adjusting to the season
The change of seasons can be a stressful time! Right now, the days are getting shorter as we begin the approach to winter and we're faced with cold, dark nights, and the stress that can come with preparing for the festive period. Then there's just dealing with the grind of our daily routine, whether that's frantic school runs, commuting train traumas, or troublesome traffic jams.
Why so SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is of course very real, a type of depression that is more pronounced during the winter. It's not fully understood what the exact causes are, but one theory is that lack of sunlight can affect the brain's production of melatonin and serotonin, which can have an impact on your sleeping patterns, mood and even your appetite. Of course, sunlight is a primary source of vitamin D, and in the late autumn and winter months, there's naturally less of this around. So what can we do to keep our bodies and minds healthy as the nights draw in?
A season of restoration We know that some animals hibernate in winter, and while we need to stay active to live our lives, viewing the winter months as the season of restoration and recouperation is a good way to stay positive about them. As you know, mental health and physical health are closely linked, so looking for positive mindsets to adopt during the cold, dark months is really important. Making sure we sleep well is a basic, but key factor. But what about our diets?
Eating well for winter It's tempting to associate winter with curling up with comfort food and chocolate, or skipping that all-important walk (it’s dark outside!) It's absolutely fine to treat yourself once in a while, but that does not necessarily mean something sweet or fatty. Think of all the wonderful seasonal ingredients that will give you a healthy energy boost! Tangerines, leeks and cabbage, for example. Think oily fish, venison and lentils; all are rich in protein. And of course, in moderation, unsalted nuts and grains will give you heathy fat and protein too. Adding them to your daily breakfasts, such as in porridge or granola, is an effective way to get more natural goodness.
D is the key I've already mentioned vitamin D, and it's essential to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus; both of which are critical for building bone.
As little as 10 minutes in the sun every day is sufficient to give the recommended intake of vitamin D. During winter months, make the best of the daylight and go out for some fresh air and think of foods that are packed with vitamin D. As well as being a great source of protein, fish contains a lot of vitamin D too, especially salmon, sardines and tuna. A cooked breakfast is a tempting choice when it comes to warming us up in the winter, but that doesn't mean cholesterol-heavy fry-ups! Eggs are versatile and healthy, and eating more of them is another way to get some extra vitamin D into our bodies. A number of non-dairy milks are also fortified with vitamin D, so look out for those.
Winter can be a difficult time, which is why I have a choice of programmes to help you with your personal and life goals as well as health and fitness. Get into contact to find out more.