Oh, the weather outside is frightful — but what you put in your mouth shouldn’t be. Especially since research shows that what you eat during the cold weather months can help you survive some of Mother Nature’s cruellest whims. It turns out that the real comfort food when the thermometer dips isn’t hotdogs, chocolate, or burgers and cheese, but nutritious options — like soup, salmon, and lots and lots of water — that trick your body into thinking it’s January.
Staying warm this month doesn’t have to mean warming up to a large utility bill. Below are five successful ‘July-eating’ strategies to leave you feeling your best and stay healthy— even when the weather is at its worst.Drink fat-free milk to ward off the sniffles.
When it’s cold outside, you’re more likely to hit the gym (or the couch) than brave the icy breeze outside. But less time outside means less sunlight, which is a key source of immunity-boosting vitamin D. Even if you do head out for a 15-minute stroll, sun exposure may be too measly to deliver enough of the vitamin, according to the National Institutes of Health. Fat-free milk is an easy, low-calorie fix for the sun deprived. “You need about 200 IUs (international units) of vitamin D a day, and fortified milk can provide you with that easily.
Low temps outside and blasting heat inside lead to dry, flaky skin. The best way to keep your outer layer lubricated is to increase your intake of healthy fats in your cold weather diet. If you consume too little fat, your skin becomes brittle. Add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet by eating fish like salmon a few times a week to keep skin soft. Score your dose of vitamin E, another powerful skin protector, by snacking on almonds or pumpkin or sunflower seeds
Banish the cold blues with a bowl of oatmeal
When the days get shorter, so does your brain’s supply of the feel-good chemical serotonin. That ‘blah’ feeling we get in the cold season is related to a lack of serotonin, which is linked to lack of sunlight. Health experts recommend eating a carb-based, 150- to 200 calorie, low-fat snack in the late afternoon (when moods tend to be at their lowest). Make it something with substance — try a satisfying bowl of oatmeal, a small sweet potato, whole-grain toast, an English muffin with a bit of jam, or a snack-size bag of pretzels which are healthy carbohydrate sources.
That sudden need for chocolate chip cookies that hits you on freezing days isn’t just psychological: Cold weather can actually trigger hunger, says Nancy Duncan, author of Nancy Duncan’s Sports Nutrition Handbook. Your brain knows that eating raises your body temperature and warms you up, so it sends out signals encouraging you to eat. To keep yourself from autodialing the pizza joint every time you start to shiver, keep your pantry stocked with low-calorie, high-density foods that fill you up faster. Water-rich foods like melon, mushrooms, and oatmeal stay there longer.
Drink water when you work out — even if you’re not thirsty
You’ll win major fitness points for strapping on earmuffs and running in subzero temperatures, but beware: Exercising in the cold can trick your whole system. You still sweat, but the drier air zaps perspiration away before you even notice. That can quickly lead to dehydration. Take care to replace the fluid you’re losing. Weigh yourself before and after a workout. For every pound you lose, drink 2 cups of fluid.