Winter is setting in and bringing with it cold temperatures, damp air and fewer daylight hours. These conditions can lead to depressed moods, dips in energy levels due to disruptions in circadian rhythms and heightened susceptibility to colds. Changing your diet to match the changing season can help you beat the winter blues and keep your health up until the spring.
According to Dyrol Underwood, chef, Norton Brownsboro Hospital, changing your diet based on the seasons makes sense to your health.
“In-season fresh foods are more affordable, better tasting and provide a rotation of fruits and vegetables in your diet,” he said.
Underwood recommends adding more citrus to your diet to increase vitamin C — a nutrient linked to a stronger immune system — to help avoid the onset of winter colds. The best sources of vitamin C — citrus fruits — are not grown locally but are in-season in other parts of the country during the winter months. That means they should be readily available at your local grocer. Other good sources of vitamin C that you may be able to find from a local producer include red and green bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Vitamin C also helps to increase the absorption of iron, a mineral that aids in the transportation of oxygen throughout your blood stream and aids in muscle and brain function.
Underwood also recommends increasing your vitamin D intake to offset the lack of sun exposure, the major source of vitamin D, during winter months. Vitamin D is linked to better bone health, weight loss and stronger immune function. Because vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods, Underwood suggests buying food items fortified with vitamin D, including dairy and some cereals.
In addition to adding important nutrients to your winter diet, the cold weather brings the need to eat foods that warm and comfort us, such as soups. Underwood suggests replacing flour with potatoes, white beans or chickpeas for thickeners in soup. Also consider adding warming spices to your cooking, such as pepper, ginger and cinnamon.
Your winter diet can prepare you for a successful spring. Make sure you are eating the right combination of food to help support your body’s overall health.