The wonderful snow-covered winters of Utah are often filled with trips up the mountain, cozy meals around the fire, and steaming hot beverages. The beginning of a new year refocuses attention on health and wellness; however, the cold winter months can drag on and offer a lackluster desire to keep up on your health. It’s important to renew aspirations of wellbeing and keep up with winters unique challenges like lack of vitamin D, sugar filled treats, and extensive calorie expenditure during winter sports. So, with that in mind, here are 4 things to remember this winter:
Fueling for Snow Season
A major challenge that is not often considered by snow sport goers is the number of calories spent while participating in skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, etc. For example, a 155-pound individual would burn up to 340 calories more per hour than if they were doing weightlifting or swimming. Snow sport activities often go on for hours and, let’s be honest, it’s usually a workout to get all the proper gear on to begin with. Something to also keep in mind is that at high altitudes your body depends more on carbs as fuel, which means you will burn through your reserves faster than at a normal elevation. So, begin your snow day with a carbohydrate rich breakfast and replenish your carbs as time goes on to ensure your energy doesn’t hit rock bottom by noon. Ideas for carbohydrate rich breakfast and snacks can be found on our blog.
Vitamin D is best known for its function in helping with the absorption of calcium and protecting against bone loss. But it also plays an important role in nerve function and in our body’s immune system. A wonderful way to get vitamin D is through the sunlight! However, in the winter months we spend less time in the sun, thus affecting our vitamin D status. Ensuring we get enough vitamin D through food is essential and may even mean including a vitamin D supplement. Salmon is one example of the few foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D. Fortified milk and yogurt are also great sources. If you consume plant-based dairy be sure to read your nutrition facts label as nut milks are sometimes not fortified with vitamin D. For a more comprehensive list of vitamin D rich foods and recommended supplements check out this post.
Eating seasonal produce means consuming foods around the same time they are naturally harvested. This could seem like an interesting concept as we often have all types of produce made available to us year-round. However, there are several benefits to eating seasonal produce. It is often more cost effective, more nutrient dense, and tastes better! Some examples of produce in season during the winter are citrus fruits, apples, bananas, celery, brussels sprouts, and kale. To make it easier incorporating these foods, here are a few recipes to try at home:
Choose Lower Added Sugar Hot Beverages
One of the joys of the winter season is enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or tea. However, these cozy drinks are often filled with added sugars. Added sugars in our diet contribute to weight gain and tooth decay. It’s important to point out that enjoying foods with added sugars in moderation is fine, it’s when the added sugars become excessive that negative consequences follow. Look for products with “lower added sugar” or “no sugar added” to decrease intake. If possible, avoid adding sugar to coffee and tea. If hot beverages are a daily treat for you in the winter, consider opting for one of these to decrease sugar intake: