We’re thrilled to have another registered dietitian and member of our Advisory Council, Tara Gidus Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD share her best tips on how to maintain healthy habits during the cold, winter months. A nutrition expert, sports dietitian and author, Tara appears regularly on FOX Orlando.
Winter is the time of year you might start to feel a little less energetic. As the days get shorter, colder and darker you may feel the impact your body. Have you noticed lower energy levels, less motivation, or just simply not feeling like yourself? Here are several tricks to incorporate into your daily routine to help you get through the winter blues.
Move More: Exercise increases serotonin levels and helps decrease stress. Find fun ways to add extra movement throughout your day. Simple movements can greatly increase your overall fitness. Take the stairs, find a parking spot that is further from the door and maybe even look into getting a standing desk. Even simple movements such as bouncing your leg can get the blood flowing. You don’t need to sprint a mile or run a marathon to reap the benefits of moving more!
Get outside (even if it’s cold!): Spending time outside during the daylight hours has several positive effects on your mood and overall well-being. Just 15 minutes of sunlight per day might help a person’s Vitamin D status, which 71% of the population does not get enough of in their diet*. Studies show sunlight also increases your serotonin levels, which help keep you feeling positive and focused. Early morning exposure to sun can even boost the conversion of serotonin to melatonin for a better night’s sleep. To get more sun, open the shades or go on a lunchtime walk in the sun. Can’t go outside? Even sitting by the window for 15 minutes can make a difference**. Get creative to find ways to fill your winter day with sun.
Stick to Healthy Habits: Limit tempting comfort foods particularly during the holiday season. High calorie foods contribute to winter weight gain and the dull, tired feeling that zaps your motivation. Comfort food recipes such as creamy soups, pasta, heavy casseroles and high fat meats can be modified to a lighter option that still give the warm, comforting feeling we crave in winter. Here are some simple ways to lighten up your faves:
- Hearty veggie soups can be a great way to warm you up without packing on the winter pounds. Versatility is the name of the game by pairing your favorite veggies with a whole grain such as barley or quinoa and a protein like a lean meat or beans to make a balanced meal that will give you a cozy feeling. Try a tasty Tomato and Spinach Noodle Soup or a delicious Spiced Chocolate Chili.
- Lasagna, a classic hearty winter food that is super comforting but can be so heavy and calorie-laden that it leaves you feeling tired. Try a lighter version of this winter staple by using zucchini slices in place of your noodles, add extra veggies to your marinara sauce such as mushrooms, peppers, kale, or spinach. You can replace your high fat sausage with a lean ground turkey, like Fit & Active 93% lean Fresh Ground Turkey, or soy crumbles.
- Coffees, Mochas, Lattes, Cappuccino, and Chai Teas are warm, sweet and delicious. Specialty coffees will no doubt warm you up and give you that “ahhh” feeling. However, the sugar, syrups and whipped cream can add up in additional calories very quickly! Green tea and herbal teas provide that warming effect and are packed with antioxidants. Try adding lemon, orange, berries, or mint leaves to leave you feeling refreshed, energetic and motivated. Craving something slightly sweeter? Try a protein-rich shake, like this seasonal Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake, to fill you up and keep you fueled for longer.
- Mood boosting foods, such as nuts, SimplyNature Organic Grass-fed Beef, salmon and fruit, keep energy levels consistent to power you through long, dark days. Stock your fridge with antioxidant and vitamin-rich fresh produce like bananas, grapes and strawberries for a nutritious snack, and Southern Grove Deluxe Whole Cashews when you need a quick boost. Try this satisfying Banana Fro-Yo Crunch recipe as your next afternoon pick-me-up.
Tara is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition, fitness, and health promotion and a former national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).
Also known as the Diet Diva, Tara has offered nutrition consulting services to numerous businesses, individuals and sports teams, including the Orlando Magic. Tara is the author of Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for Dummies and co-author of Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies. She lives in Florida.