You read that right…you can use food to help fight off the doldrums of the cold winter season.
When daylight savings and cold weather strike, we find ourselves spending most of our days in darkness and indoors. As much fun as it is to bundle up against nippy weather and cozy up to a warm fire with family and friends, a long winter can take its toll on our general attitude. Sunlight provides us with a natural source of Vitamin D and warm temperatures and longer days encourage us to get outside and socialize.
In the winter, this is often not the case and we’re left feeling a little low. Now add in the holidays and we may find ourselves turning to food as a way celebrate the fun but also to temper the agony of a long winter. This, coupled with inactivity, stress, or feelings of sadness, can have a negative impact on our health. We can’t get away from the weather but we can put in place a few tricks to help us battle the winter blues, including food.
Cookies, cakes, coffee, and cocktails are to be expected during the holiday season. Festive days on the calendar like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day are often associated with comfort foods and sweets. Indulging in these celebrations is a fun part of the season, but regularly using comfort foods as a band-aid to our emotions can take a toll on our health, especially during the winter months.
How To Use Food To Fight The Winter Blues
Comfort foods give us a temporary feeling of euphoria but to really use food as a way to fight the winter blues, stay away from sugary treats and drinks. Instead, seek out lean proteins, especially those high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Lean proteins will give us more sustainable energy than empty sugary foods, so look to chicken, fish, and nuts. Fresh fruits (like berries) and foods rich in folic acid (think leafy greens) will not only provide us with essential vitamins and nutrients, but they will also help us to fuel our bodies with high-energy foods that will keep our digestive system, and our brains, from feeling lethargic.
Being stuck inside on a winter’s day is a good opportunity to try your hand at some basic meal prep so that you’ve got healthy food options on hand to help manage the urge to go for indulgences over quality food choices. One way we fight the urge is with hard-boiled eggs. We like to make a dozen or so at the start of the week. They’re a great on-the-go breakfast, perfect for a salad, or when you want a late night snack. There is research to suggest that eating protein as your evening snack is an effective weight loss strategy.
Put on your favorite holiday movie or romantic comedy and cook up some chicken breasts. To have a lean protein available for salads or wrap sandwiches is a great way to not only eat healthy and well, but it will also save you the money from buying your lunch at work. We like to season ours with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, plus some dried herbs for a little extra flavor. Transfer your cooked chicken into a plastic storage container and draw from it as needed during the week.
We love roasted vegetables, and the fall and winter months are prime time for seasonal roasted veggies. While the chicken cooks, you can also put out some root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, and squash on a cookie sheet to roast. Roasted vegetables with a drizzle of syrupy balsamic vinegar and chicken breast are super easy lunch. We might also pair it with cauliflower rice, adding one more vegetable to the mix.
Food should make us feel good, and eating the right food will do exactly that. There’s still room for treats! We should absolutely enjoy wintertime food comforts as a part of the season. We can’t turn down a cup of hot cocoa or say no to a slice of cake, and a glass of wine or a hot toddy are delicious ways to stay warm on a cold winter’s day. Although we are often confined to the indoors to endure long days of darkness than light, we can find ways to use food as a healthy way to fight the winter blues. Find ways to get outside, stay social, and use food in a way that will keep you happy and healthy.