It’s that time of year again when we welcome back crisp mornings, short days, and colourful leaves. Winter is the favourite season for many, but for others, well, it’s not so straightforward! If you have been allergic to winter in the past, how about trying to think of the season as a fresh start for some healthy habits? Stow away the bikini and flip flops and embrace all the benefits that this time of year has to offer, from seasonal produce to walks in the cold, crisp weather. And, you can even challenge yourself to celebrate Christmas like a health pro, by enjoying the foods but not over-indulging!
Here are some of our best tips on how to enjoy your healthiest winter yet!
Get your flu shot
This is a no-brainer, and it’s not too late yet! We are all vulnerable to getting pesky and hard to shake viruses at this time of year, and you don’t want to spend a whole week cooped up at home, suffering from aches and pains, headache and endless sneezes. The best way to protect yourself from getting the flu is by heading off to your local pharmacy or GP for your annual shot. And no, getting the jab will not give you the flu; only protect you from getting it!
Think beyond Jack-O-Lanterns
Halloween may have passed, but that doesn’t mean you should forget pumpkins for another year! The pulp of this autumn staple is packed with vitamins A and C, and its tasty seeds (which you can toast) contain a substance that can actually help lower your cholesterol. With all the potential health benefits of pumpkin, it would be a shame to limit them to just a spooky decoration! Why not find a recipe to make a pumpkin pie, bake them into muffins, or add them to soups, stews, or a salad? Your winter body will thank you.
Give the Common Cold the Old Heave Ho!
We all dread getting a lingering cold at Christmas; it can leave you feeling really miserable and stuffed up. Regularly washing your hands will lower your risk of contracting this illness; it is the single best thing you can do to prevent viruses. It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, your immune system will thank you for it! The foods you eat can also help prevent cold. Stick to plenty of fruits and vegetables to pack in those vitamins and minerals, and save all those festive sweet treats for special occasions.
Get Outside and Workout!
Now, we know that it’s all too easy to curl up and hibernate indoors until the weather gets warmer again! But we implore you to stay moving – did you know that spending time outdoors increases your vitamin D levels, which is crucial for maintaining your good mood throughout the winter? Join a team sport, or take in the changing scenery on a bike ride, run or hike. You could even consider getting outdoors to rake leaves, or replanting your garden to give it that Christmassy feel – it all burns calories, after all!
Buy In-Season Veggies
Now is the perfect time of year to take advantage of the nutritional powerhouses that are available in the form of Beets, Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts at this time of year. And we haven’t even mentioned Kale, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower and Squash! An abundance of tasty and versatile vegetables makes it easy to reap the health benefits of a plant-based diet, such as diabetes prevention, and control of blood pressure and heart health.
It’s a time of year when giving back and being grateful for what we have is naturally awakened in us, as another year draws to a close. But, did you know that adopting an “attitude of gratitude”, and volunteering, are actually really good for your mental health? Giving takes many forms, big and small, so the opportunities are endless. Give your co-workers a sweet surprise by baking some sweet treats for the office, volunteer to collect some coins for your favourite charity, or make plans to volunteer for a few hours at your local homeless shelter; the need for extra hands is always great at this time of year.
Dr Seth Rankin is the Founder of London Doctors Clinic