Hi everyone. I hope your 2011 is off to a great start. Just in case you live in a bubble and haven’t heard the news, there’s some winter weather coming our way here in the Atlanta area. Naturally, the grocery stores have been completely covered up all weekend as people frantically rush to get their bread, milk, eggs, batteries and bottled water. I remember last year around this time of year there was some snow on the way, so I called my husband to ask him to stop and get bread and milk on his way home. I think we had been married less than a month at the time. His response to my request was, “But we don’t ever buy bread and milk, so why would we buy it now?” I replied, “Because it’s going to snow and that’s just what you do!”
Shea made a great point. Needless to say, I didn’t rush out to buy any bread and milk this weekend, but I did stock up on plenty of fruits, veggies and lean meats from the Farmer’s Market (If we freeze to death, at least we will die well nourished!). And today, in preparation of tonight’s storm, I made a huge pot of hearty turkey vegetable soup, because that’s exactly what I want to be eating if I’m stuck at home the next few days (I’m also stocked up on wine, but that’s neither here nor there!).
There’s no need to throw your healthy habits out the window just because of some white flurries! So, to help you get through this next cold snap and the coming winter months, here are a few tips:
- Don’t cuddle up to the wrong kinds of carbs. When daylight hours are fewer, your stored serotonin (your brain’s feel-good chemical) declines. Your cravings for high-carb comfort foods are actually your body’s cries for more serotonin. Don’t overlook quality for comfort by reaching for junky chips, pizzas, pastas and sweets. They might make you feel better for a short time, but much worse in the long run! Instead, opt for nutritious whole grains and other high-quality carbohydrates. Check out my recent post on mood-boosting foods that are high in tryptophan and high-quality fats.
- Don’t get stuck in a produce rut. We think of summer as the time to enjoy colorful fruits and vegetables, but winter offers its own share of bright choices. The cold season is the perfect time for exciting fruits like pomegranate, cranberries, citrus fruits (I’ve been eating about three clementines a day during the last week!) and purple grapes, as well as comforting vegetables like sweet potatoes, rutabaga and butternut squash. Throw the fruits in smoothies and salads and power-pack all the vegetables you can with chili, soups and stir-fry.
- Resist the urge to be sedentary. When it’s dark and freezing outside, all I want to do is huddle up under a blanket and watch Lifetime movies all day long. While I think a bit of hibernating is appropriate in winter, it shouldn’t be at the expense of our workout. Exercise not only warms us up, but it gets our endorphins pumping so we’ll be less likely to look to food to boost our moods. Try to do something active every day (I know the gyms are packed this time of year, but the post-resolution rush will soon pass.). Now that the holiday rush is behind us and our calendars are a little calmer, it might be a great time to take up a new fitness hobby. Last week I went to my first yoga class. I didn’t think it was going to be my thing, but I actually liked it so much that I went back for more!
- Give your immune system some extra TLC. As I discussed in my previous post on immune boosting foods and supplements, we’re in the heart of flu season, and something tells me this storm will bring another wave of illness. As long as you’re stocking up on staples, grab some vitamin C, vitamin D and other flu-fighting foods and supplements. Limit your sugar intake as it paralyzes your immune system for several hours. Don’t wait until you or your family members feel sick to start giving your immune systems a little extra love! Bundle up and make sure your hair is thoroughly dry when you go outside, wash your hands frequently and use snow days to get plenty of sleep.
Now that we’ve had our winter pep talk (The wine and Lifetime movies are optional!), I say bring on the snow! Be safe and stay warm.