|Finding yourself reaching for sugary, carby goodness while you’re tucked on the couch binging Stranger Things season 3? Yeah, they’re just normal Winter cravings... you know this. But what can you do about it?
There are a few considerations when it comes to our nutrition and well-being over the cooler months. For those living particularly in southern parts of Australia, the lack of sunlight has been associated with changes in dietary patterns, lack of motivation to exercise and changes in mood.
A condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is currently being further researched but has been closely associated with similar changes in behaviour that are unhelpful to achieving a healthy lifestyle. It is important to be aware of how our mood can change during the cooler months in order to help maintain healthy eating patterns and training routines.
By gaining a better understanding of our gut microbiome and positive eating behaviours, we can take our health and happiness into our own hands for year-round good vibes.
Goodness Gracious Gut Health
The popularity of looking after our gut health has increased drastically over the last few years. One important finding is that our ‘happy hormone’ serotonin, is also produced in our gastrointestinal system. During the cooler months the production of serotonin may be even more important, particularly with the growing rates of SAD, but additionally to continue a positive and helpful relationship with food.
We can support a healthy gut by including high fibre foods such as:
- grains (quinoa, whole grain bread and cereals, long grain rice)
Foods containing probiotics (think: yoghurt, kimchi, pickled vegetables, tempeh) are also beneficial additions!
Structure Is Your Saviour
Have a Winter plan for nutrition and training, especially if you normally train outdoors. Continue your healthy approach to all main meals by adding quality carbohydrates, quality protein from lean meat, poultry and fish or plant-based proteins; soy products (tempeh, tofu) legumes and lentils, nuts and seeds. Include generous serves of vegetables and achieve variety by having colour on the plate. Fat intake from extra virgin olive oil, nuts/seeds, dairy and animal products including eggs will help achieve a minimally processed food diet.
Comfort Food Can Be Your Friend
During the colder months, we often seek meals that will warm us up or provide that full and cosy feeling from the inside out. You don’t have to pass these up in the name of nutrients. Try slow cooked or casserole recipes, with a greater vegetable to meat/grain ratio.
If your winter habits include consuming more hot drinks, increase hydration by switching to herbal tea rather than more caffeine or hot choccies.
The key to maintaining a healthy relationship with food is not by restricting yourself, so make sure you still enjoy a hot chocolate (go on, add some marshmallows too) as a sweet and warming option when you feel like it!
Have a favourite comfort food recipe? Let us know in the comments below!
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, retrieved 27/2/2019 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4364.0.55.006Chapter2002011-12
Tara Davenport is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and an Accredited Sports Dietitian who uses a wide range of techniques to optimise your nutrition, your health, and to support a positive relationship with food. She takes a holistic non-diet approach involving intuitive eating styles, mindfulness as well as nutrition to fuel performance.
To find out more, follow her on Instagram here, or head to her website.