Healthy wintertime foods and a big thank you

Before I get into this nutrition article, I’d like to use this opportunity to say thanks. On Oct. 17th, 360 Fitness had the honour of being named the 2012 Small Business of the Year by the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce. We are very humbled, excited and we look forward to big things to come. In saying that, thank you for reading this column and spreading the good word on health and wellness, together we can make Red Deer a healthier and fitter community. Onwards to the article!

Think there’s nothing exciting to eat during the winter? Open your pantry and think again.

Apples, oranges, grapes, peaches, and tomatoes. It’s easy to go gaga over summertime foods. Get into the winter, however, and you may think your options for tasty, healthy foods are at a minimum. But you’re wrong! With a good eye and a willingness to work with the cold months’ harvests, you can enjoy a healthy diet all year round. What foods should you look to include in your routine in the cold months?

The warm months offer more than just great fruits and vegetables. They also offer an abundance of life-giving light from the brilliantly bright sun. While you may think the suns rays don’t do much besides darken your skin, keep in mind that much of your allotment of Vitamin D comes through the sun. When this source of Vitamin D is taken away, it’s up to you to make it up through your diet.

A few good sources of Vitamin D include salmon, dairy products and eggs. However, there is Vitamin D in many other foods. Seeking these out will help you reap the benefits of Vitamin D, which include decreased likelihood of depression increased energy, improved immunity against common diseases, and a reduced risk for experiencing feelings of weakness.

Okay, so you don’t want to eat protein nonstop all day unless you’re considering a career in professional bodybuilding. But you do need to get a fair amount of protein during the winter months. Because not only does protein help your body function well, but it also gives you a helping hand when it comes to warming up.

Granted, eating a steak in a snowstorm will not make you feel like you’re at the beach in the middle of the summer, but protein does have properties that cause you to feel warmer. And if you have problems getting warmed up during the day, another bite or two of protein may be just what your cold bones are calling for.

Before you give up all hope of finding a way to include your favourite summertime foods in your wintertime diet, remember the power of your freezer. Before time runs out, pack up some blueberries, orange slices, and strawberries and freeze them. Pack up enough of them in well-insulated storage bags and you’ll be able to get through the winter without saying adios to summertime foods altogether.

When you’re ready to enjoy some of the frozen fruits, pull them out and include them in a smoothie or a fruit parfait. Most grocery stores have raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries frozen in abundance. Pick some up and add them to your favourite dishes. Doing this helps you maintain a nice splash of colour in what you may consider some rather colourless and drab months. This increased colour palate will be pleasing aesthetically. Even more important, it will give your body a wider range of vitamins and minerals from which to draw in an effort to maintain your good health.

So you can’t have some of your favourite health foods during the winter. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of healthy alternatives out there.

When these aren’t available, go with some of your favourite winter comfort foods like healthy stews, soups and oatmeal dishes. Just be careful to avoid high-fat, high-calorie foods that don’t provide the energy you need to get through the day.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer. He can be reached at 403-347-1707 or check out www.360fitness.ca for more information.

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