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Four Easy Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs

Posted Jan 15 2013 11:30am

Are you feeling those January blahs? After the holidays, low energy and decreased vitality can creep into those short winter days, leaving you feeling, well… blah.  Here are four ways to get back into the game.

Stay Hydrated 

Water is vital for beating winter fatigue.  Males require on average about four liters of water per day, and women about three liters.  Keep in mind that this total includes all sources of fluid, including food.  During the winter, we can easily become dehydrated which zaps energy, and dehydration can become confused with hunger, leading us to overeat (hello winter pounds!). A few ways to stay hydrated:

  • Lemon juice and water upon waking can do wonders for you morning routine. Lemon juice helps stimulate detoxification, increases bowel movement, and is a powerful antioxidant. Drink ½ squeezed lemon with a tall glass of water half an hour prior to breakfast.
  • Skip sugar-laden drinks. Not only do they add additional calories, but they also spike blood sugar leading to a burst of energy, then a crash within the hour.
  • Drink herbal teas. These aid digestion, stimulate your senses, or even calm you down after a long day at work. Try peppermint for digestion, ginger for stimulation, and chamomile for relaxation.
  • Drink green and black tea instead of coffee. Green and black teas do contain caffeine but not nearly as much, preventing the inevitable “coffee crash”.  A single cup of black tea may contain between 32 and 144 mg of caffeine, while green tea contains only 25 mg.

Sleep

Sleep is not for the lazy, it is for the healthy! Our bodies need 7 to 9 hours of sleep in order to heal and repair the damage we have caused during the day. Tips to increase your sleep quality:

  • Don’t go to bed with a full stomach. Besides being uncomfortable, it switches the focus of the body from healing and repair to digestion. Aim to finish your meal at least 2 hours before going to bed.
  • Keep your glass of wine or beer with dinner only. Drinking right before bed causes the body to focus on metabolizing alcohol, taking precedence over other functions like healing and repairing tissues. It also disrupts sleep quality, making it that much harder to wake up feeling refreshed on those dark winter mornings.

Eat a good breakfast

Eating a whole foods breakfast filled with low glycemic carbohydrates and protein will help keep you fueled throughout the morning. The brain alone utilizes about 130 grams of carbohydrates per day (equivalent to 3 cups of rice or pasta!). Too little brain fuel can cause mental and physical fatigue. Getting your boost from low-glycemic whole-grain choices that are rich in fiber and nutrients helps keep you energized. Breakfast ideas:

  • I love this recipe with rolled oats, grated apple, and berries. Topped with nonfat yogurt, chopped walnuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup, it’s the perfect winter breakfast!
  • Black beans and braised kale topped with a fried egg and a slice of whole-wheat toast.
  • If you are on the go, a Zing Bar and an orange will help keep you on your toes throughout the morning.

Get more Magnesium

Magnesium is a vital mineral needed for over 300 biochemical processes in our body. However, many of us don’t get enough.  Since magnesium is key in energy production, a deficiency can mean lethargy. Most adults need about 300mg per day. Luckily, I can think up all sorts of warming winter meals with these magnesium-rich foods:

  • 1 oz of almonds: 80 mg Mg
  • 1/2 cup cooked spinach: 78 mg Mg
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice: 42 mg Mg
  • 3 oz cooked halibut: 24 mg Mg

We want to know, how do you beat the winter blahs?

Selva Wohlgemuth is working on her Master’s degree in Nutrition at Bastyr University. She is an avid cook and blogger, and you can find out about her latest culinary adventures and see more of her food photography at Poppies and Papayas .

 

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