Whilst the winter months are great for hot chocolates by the fire, or watching movies on a rainy day, unfortunately most of us will be plagued by some sort of cold or flu at least once during this season. Here is a little advice on how I try to beat the winter chill...
According to the Better Health Channel (which provides reliable and up to date health and medical information fully funded by the State Government of Victoria) a diet high in antioxidants may reduce the risk of many diseases. This is because antioxidants scavenge the free radicals from our cells. Free radicals are made when our bodies break down oxygen, and they cause damage to our cells, proteins, lipids and DNA. So, how can we get more of these little critters called antioxidants?
It is recommended that we eat a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and dairy products...EVERY DAY!
To increase my fruit intake I like to whip up a fruit blend. Simply chop up some fruit, you can use any fruit you like, and pop into a blender with a little fruit juice. For this blend I used an apple, orange, stewed rhubarb, a fresh diced beetroot, kiwi fruit, mixed frozen berries, the flesh of half a lemon, fresh ginger and some apple juice.
Make a big batch of vegetable soup at the start of the week, and take to work for an easy, hearty lunch. Bring about 1 litre stock to the boil, add a can of diced tomatoes, chopped vegetables (I just use whatever I have on hand- the more variety the better), and simmer until the vegetables are tender. I sometimes add a tin of drained chickpeas, or some bacon bones for a little extra flavour. Mmm, delish!
I also love to make rice paper rolls as a way to get some fresh vegetables and a little protein in at lunch time...look out for my 'Foodie Friday' post this week for a tutorial!
And of course it is of vital importance that we balance our fruit and veg intake with whole grains, lean meats and alternatives. My staple dinner is usually meat and veg, with some brown rice on the side. Eggs are so versatile and one of my favourite breakfast dishes, and I also get amongst the porridge for a warming breakfast.
The human body can last weeks without food, but only days without water. Water is needed for most body functions, including maintaining the health and integrity of every cell in the body. It is recommended that we drink six to eight glasses of fluid each day - but when it's cold, I really don't feel like drinking water!
I'm now in the habit of sipping on a nice big glass of hot water each morning with breakfast. It goes a long way to helping my body maintain its hydration.
Drinking herbal teas during the day is another great way to increase our hydration.
It can be so difficult to keep ourselves warm during the chilly winter months. I can always remember my mother handing me my jacket as I walked out the door, saying "put this on, you don't want to catch a chill!". For a while there has been debate about whether exposure to cold weather actually causes a cold or flu. It appears that without having a virus in your body, you won't contract a cold just simply due to cold weather. However, having lowered body temperature does weaken our immune system and therefore makes us less able to fight an infection. So whilst cold weather won't directly make us sick, it decreases our body's ability to protect itself.
Layer up! With comfy woolen jumpers, scarves, hats and gloves...
Left picture - black jumpers from Portmans, green jumper from Dotti, Sportsgirl beret, Just Jeans scarf, thrifted woolen gloves.
Right picture - Beanie from 'Ardent Alpaca' in Beechworth Victoria, Just Jeans scarf.
Sip away on a hot beverage...my favourite winter comfort drinks are hot chocolates or warm milk with honey.
Cosy up on the couch with a warm blankey and heat pack- Pictured heatpack from Mozi.
Have a cuddle!
When I'm lying in bed and it's raining outside, the last thing I feel like doing is getting up for exercise! But the benefits of exercise are well known and documented, we really should be aiming for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
During winter I still go running 2-3 times a week, but I incorporate more indoor activities into my regime so I can't use the weather as an excuse. I do pilates 1-2 times per week, use my indoor fitness equipment (exercise bike, rowing machine, fit ball and resistance band), and swim in an indoor heated pool once a week.
To help myself ignore those voices that tempt me to stay in bed rather than exercise, I set clear goals as to what I would like to achieve by exercising. These are sometimes to do with body weight or muscle tone, but are usually about my level of fitness. Think about what you would like to achieve- is it fitting into last season's pair of jeans? Are you training for an event such as a fun run? Or would you just like to feel more energised and less sluggish throughout your day? Whatever your goals are, keep them in mind. By focusing on them you will be more motivated and driven to keep exercising.
Running in winter can be very invigorating!
Stay warm and well this winter,