With the shorter days and colder weather we tend to crave rich comfort foods, we also tend to spend more time indoors moving less. Most people gain weight in the winter, an average of 1 to 5 lbs. and according to the New England Journal of Medicine, this extra weight is very difficult to shed tending to pile up over time.
Some foods can help us keep the weight off as well as fight the winter blues. Starting the day with a combination of a complex carbohydrate and a protein is energizing, prevents spikes in blood sugar and promotes the release of serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter in the brain. Good pairings are oatmeal with almonds, whole grain toast with peanut butter, and yogurt with fruit and walnuts.
Water intake is also very important during the winter, cold weather activities and heated buildings can cause dehydration which can be mistaken as hunger. Lack of proper hydration also contributes to constipation, dry skin and hair. Four to eight cups of water or herbal tea is the appropriate amount to consume.
Having an exercise routine also helps with weight gain. This is the right time of year to sign up for an exercise class, play an indoor sport or join an exercise group. Getting on a regular schedule will prevent heading home to the couch once it gets dark.
This is also the season of parties. It’s better to never go to a party hungry, a healthy snack beforehand can prevent bad food choices. Alcohol is also loaded with calories, having a glass of water before and after a drink can slow down the intake. A lot of the eating and drinking we do at parties is not really related to hunger but to the availability of foods and drinks.
Another good way of curbing calorie intake is having a cup of soup before a meal. It can be a vegetable soup we prepare during the weekend and store in the refrigerator for the entire week or a simple cup of miso soup.Warm healthy soups, whole grains and roasted nuts are very comforting in cold days.
Chinese medicine recommends eating foods that have the energy of the season to adjust the body to the changes in nature. Winter is the season of the element water, the kidneys and the salty flavor. Salty foods strengthen the kidneys, promote elimination and dissipate hard masses. Shrimp, lamb, oysters, black beans, walnuts, seaweed, and goji berries are very good kidney tonics.
Due to the close relationship between the kidneys and the heart, foods that benefit it should be included. The role of the heart in Chinese medicine is closer to our Western view of the nervous and circulatory systems. Bitter is the flavor of the heart. Kale, mustard greens, lettuce, parsley, dark chocolate, cranberries, and barley are good examples of bitter foods.
TCM Dietary Therapy
The Heart in Chinese Medicine
TCM Dietary Therapy
The five flavours and the five organs – Ping Ming Health http://www.pingminghealth.com/article/556/the-five-flavours-and-the-five-organs/
Taste and Action of Chinese Herbs http://www.itmonline.org/articles/taste_action/taste_action_herbs.htm
The 5 Organs Network of Chinese Medicine –Heart