Have you ever noticed feeling extra tired during the winter months?
Less energy to do the things you usually do, like exercising or playing
with your kids? As we shift into winter, the sun goes down earlier
and rises later, the temperature drops, and our energy levels tend to
follow. Not all of us are prone to the winter pull; some find the cold
reenergizing. Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, the
below tips may boost your mood and help you feel stronger and healthier
during the winter months.
1.) Eat breakfast.
Eating breakfast is one of the best ways to get your body moving in
the morning. The word breakfast literally means to break the fast.
Overnight, your metabolism slows down and needs to be kicked back into
motion which is where breakfast comes in. Ideally, I recommend eating a
meal that includes a whole grain carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat,
especially at breakfast. As the day goes on, keep your brain and body
fueled by eating every four to five hours.
Cook an egg from a local farm (protein + fat) using a little
Equal Exchange olive oil (healthy fat) and enjoy it on top of a slice of
whole grain toast (whole grain carbohydrate), alongside your favorite
Equal Exchange coffee or tea.
2.) Limit consumption of processed carbohydrates / sugars.
Processed / packaged food tends to be filled with a lot of refined
sugar, a result of processing. Refining removes important nutrients such
as vitamins, minerals and fiber, from food. When you eat refined
carbohydrates and sugars (i.e. white bread, white rice, soda, candy,
fruit juice, jam or syrup), your body quickly digests the food causing
your blood sugar to surge and then drop quickly leaving you feeling
tired, cranky and hungry a few hours later.
Try this: Replace
white foods with quality carbohydrates such as: vegetables, fruits,
whole wheat rice, whole grains (quinoa, barley, wheat berries, oatmeal),
beans and legumes.
All of the quality carbohydrates listed above have a lot of essential
nutrients, such as fiber, which slows the absorption of sugars /
carbohydrates into your blood, warding off those cranky, tired, hungry
feelings. Studies show that quality carbohydrates can release serotonin
which decreases depressive feelings, improves outlook and enhances
Reality check: You don't have to be a purist and completely cut out your favorite Equal Exchange chocolate bar, simply moderate the amount you eat. Because we use actual cocoa beans and whole foods to make our bars, Equal Exchange Chocolate has a lot more good nutrients than most chocolate bars.
3.) Integrate protein into meals.
Although in the typical U.S. diet we get more than enough protein
every day (even vegetarians!), it is important to eat high-quality
protein with most meals and snacks. High quality protein includes
beans, tofu, tempeh, eggs, lean meats, fish, low fat dairy, legumes, and
nuts. Protein found in these foods (and in bananas!) have been
shown to promote the release of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine,
hormones that are involved in boosting mood, and increasing alertness
and focus hours after eating. Also, protein slows the digestion of
Try this: Substitute
your usual afternoon snack with a handful of Equal Exchange Tamari
Roasted Almonds (one serving = one handful or about 20-25 almonds) and
an Equal Exchange banana.
4.) Exercise and stay hydrated.
Although you may not feel as thirsty in the winter, the dry winter
air can leave you more dehydrated than you think. Dehydration can make
you feeling sluggish and tired.
Try this: Drink at least eight glasses of water or water equivalents each day. If you exercise, you will need more. Keep a reusable water bottle at your desk and by your side, refill and drink often throughout the day.
Exercise is one of the best ways to run off the winter blues
(literally!). Exercising releases endorphins which increase happiness.
Studies have also shown that exercise can help relieve depression and
create physiological changes that make more energy to your body
available throughout the day.
Try this: Join an indoor sports league, like soccer or volleyball. Get some friends together and try a new fun winter activity such as snow shoeing, ice skating or skiing.
For more mood boosting tips, check out this post from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.