Happy winter to you all. But “winter” is different for everyone. Right now, if you’re draped in a tiny tangerine-colored tank top with just a pair of flip-flops on your feet, I envy you. Your winter eating complaints are probably very minimal, just grab a frosty fruit smoothie, throw a coconut water in your bag and head out the door.
But for most people, winter is a combination of extreme freezing temperatures, frozen red noses, cold air, dry heat from the indoor environment, tired sore muscles, numb ears, grumbling tummies and spontaneous hot chocolate, latte, or chai cravings. Chai overload, I know it well. Your body is overwhelmed with signals during the winter months, “I’m thirsty. I’m cold. I’m hungry. I’m tired.” And figuring out what those signals are telling you to eat, can be quite a challenge. A person can only eat so much soup and sip so many hot bevies…
Here are a few solutions. You may be surprised what your body is missing out on this winter. No more complaints…
Confusing Winter Cravings. Eating in the winter months is different than in summertime. And sometimes your cravings can make you feel like you are nuts. A smoothie in 20 degree temperatures sounds nuttier than pickles and soy ice cream! Exhibit A) After a long freezing walk in the cold dry air, I devoured an entire papaya and then had a craving for a fruit smoothie. Not your usual soup-to-keep-me-warm craving. The fruit hydrated my body and provided potassium, vitamins, minerals and fiber. My body knew what it wanted. But sometimes between your body, brain and hands to mouth – the “what to eat” signals can get confused and the complaining begins…
Often when we eat incorrectly in winter, we end up with classic winter eating complaints.
A few complaints:
I’m still hungry!
I feel sluggish and tired!
I’m eating too much!
Winter Eating Complaints Solved:
1. Complaint: “I’m Cold!”
Solution: Often times we will reach for a hot cocoa, tea or coffee beverage to warm us up. And while these choices certainly do help. For very poor, continuing low body heat, try these tips: have some soup or very hot stew. Hot mashed potatoes or a warm knish is also a great choice. These hot complex carbohydrates will stick with you longer-warming you longer. Also, try spicy foods to warm up your whole body. Really spicy foods can actually make you sweat. Also, no matter what, make sure your body is hydrated. A dehydrated body does not hold its body temperature up well and will be more prone to temperature fluctuations. Stay hydrated to stay warm. And also, too many caffeinated beverages can dehydrate you, making you colder.
2. Complaint: “I’m Still Hungry!”
Solution: Eat denser foods. Complex carbs, fat and protein. These foods will keep your body feeling well nourished. Simple carbs like fruit beverages, sugar and even white flour will not provide long lasting satisfaction. Foods like potatoes, nuts, high quality grains, beans, protein and lightly cooked veggies will all help your hungry feeling. Light salads, toast, fruit and light cereals or grains sometimes just don’t satisfy your hunger or energy requirements for the winter season.
3. Complaint: “I’m thirsty!”
Solution: Thirst is a common problem in the winter. Huffing and puffing through cold air can dehydrate the body quickly, and we are less likely to chug a bottle of room temperature water when we are cold. So remember to eat plenty of hydrating foods like soups, stews, moist grains, moist noodles, moist proteins, moist veggies and fruits, and of course hot beverages as well. If you can handle it, you can even drink smoothies in the winter–just make sure you are snugly inside by a warm fire or heater.
4. Complaint: “I feel sluggish!”
Solution: I find that when we are sitting around inside all day eating carbs, our bodies can start to feel tired, relaxed and overall sluggish. Our metabolism may feel like it has slowed down and our digestive systems may seem to lag. If this happens to you, cut down on the carb intake and try adding some higher protein foods to your diet. Also try adding more raw fresh-pressed juices. The alive and active enzymes can perk up your digestive and immune systems. Other great perk-you-up foods are spicy peppers, cayenne, lemon juice, apple cider or balsamic vinegar, ginger, garlic, curry, pepper and even citrus. And of course, remember to get some exercise to perk up your body. Exercise will help digestion and energy levels.
5. Complaint: “I’m eating too much!”
Solution: Make sure that your are eating enough of the right types of foods. Are you getting enough protein? Are you getting enough fiber? Are you getting enough digestion time-rest time, post eating? Are you getting enough leafy greens? Are you getting adequate live/raw foods containing active enzymes? Are you eating enough whole unprocessed foods? Are you eating enough perk-you-up foods like chilies, garlic, lemon, etc. Are you eating enough of these foods: Nuts, beans, nut butters, legumes, sweet potatoes, heavy grains like quinoa, brown rice and barley, tofu and tempeh, winter fruits, and fortified milks (almond, soy, rice, hemp).