Winter – it’s not here yet but never too early to think about how you can stay as healthy as possible during those cold months. Even when your body is telling you to hibernate, you can keep healthy and fit, no matter what the weather’s like.
Sleep – on average we sleep around six and a half hours a night, less than is recommended, 6-8 hours and a goods nights sleep is important for health and wellbeing. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your body is extremely vulnerable to illness. Sleep is very much like fuel that recharges your batteries! You’ve got to do it to keep the machine running. But in winter, we naturally sleep more because of the longer nights. It’s good to adopt hibernating habits when the weather turns cold, the time to catch up.
Make sure your immune system is in tip-top condition as you are 80% more likely to get a cold in winter. Here’s where milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais which are great sources of protein and vitamins A and B12 are helpful. They’re also an important source of calcium, which helps keep our bones strong. Try to go for semi-skimmed or skimmed milk – rather than full-fat – and low-fat yoghurts.
When it’s cold and dark outside, it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food, but it’s important to ensure you still have a healthy diet and include seven portions of fruit and veg a day.
If you find yourself craving a sugary treat, try a juicy clementine or satsuma instead, or sweet dried fruits such as dates or raisins.
Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, swede and turnips can be roasted, mashed or made into soup for a comforting winter meal for the whole family. Explore varieties of fruit and veg that you may not normally eat.
Don’t use the cold winter months as an excuse to stay in and lounge around. Instead, get out with the whole family to try out a new activity – maybe ice skating, or taking a bracing winter walk on the beach or through the park. Regular exercise not only helps to control your weight but boosts your immune system, and is a good way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.
Start the day with a healthy, hearty breakfast. Winter is the perfect season for porridge. Eating a warm bowlful on a cold morning isn’t just a delicious way to start your day, it also helps boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre. These give you energy and help you feel fuller for longer, stopping the temptation to snack mid-morning. Oats also contain lots of vital vitamins and minerals.
Make your porridge with semi-skimmed or skimmed milk or water, and don’t add sugar or salt. Add a few dried apricots, some raisins, a sliced banana or other fresh fruit for extra flavour and to help you hit your 7 A DAY target.
Drink the optimal amount of water. In the winter season it’s more important than ever to consume the right amount of water for your health.
Wash your hands regularly. Keep the bacteria and viruses off your hands and out of your mouth and eyes. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer close-by for those instances where you can’t get to soap and water.