We invited our favorite nutritional consultant, Gail Kloosterman, BSN, INHC, to help us learn how to nourish our bodies in the colder season. Gail sends her thoughts all the way from the Next Ingredient headquarters in Boise, Idaho.
“Winter is a great opportunity to take inventory of our physical health. One reason for this is that our bodies often face more challenges when it’s colder outside, we are exposed to less sunshine, we might not have as much access to a variety of fresh foods, and more physical effort is required to perform the basic activities of daily living. Though it can be a tough season for many, we can take advantage of the reminder that we might need some deep and serious nourishment. By tuning into our body’s signals and being as well-fueled as possible, we can gain the support we need to function at a higher level.
Metabolism can be defined as the summation of all of our body’s biochemical functions. This is not just our digestion, as is commonly thought! The effectiveness of our metabolism is noticeable when we observe certain body functions, such as whether we are able to maintain optimal body temperature, maintain regular physical activity and adequate energy, and experience sleep quality throughout the year.
Start tuning into your own metabolism by asking yourself these illuminating questions: What is my body’s primary fuel source? Am I running my metabolism off of the food I eat, or am I running it off of stress?
A low-functioning metabolism can manifest in many different ways throughout the body. The body gives us clues that can indicate a need for more support in food form. One is low body temps, including perpetually cold hands and feet, and finding difficulty in getting warm, even when wearing several layers of clothing. Another is when it takes longer to recover from physical exertion, even if it’s a walk or short workout. A history of thyroid issues, blood sugar issues, or auto-immunity can also compromise our metabolism, as well as menstrual periods that are challenging, irregular, or missing, and a history of dieting or food sensitivities.
Below are some ways to support metabolism so that the winter isn’t as daunting. Focusing on the most foundational needs that our bodies have is a great first step, rather than trying to bypass the basics.
— Stabilize your blood sugar. Top tips include eating when you are hungry, eating until you’re full, having balanced meals that include all three macronutrients (Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates), including a variety of nutritious food-types in your meals, eating your first meal within 30-60 minutes of waking up, and making sure to go to bed with a balanced snack in your tummy. If you drink caffeinated beverages, it’s important to be aware that caffeine consumption can place added demand on the system. However, fueling with food fully before caffeinating can make a huge difference in being able to support the body’s energy requirements. If you find that it’s hard to keep warm even with warm clothing on, consider eating warm foods when it’s cold outside, and reducing raw or coarse fiber in meals. Opt for foods with squishy, soft fiber like applesauce and roasted squash.
— Support your sleep by valuing rest, winding down in the evening rather than being busy, getting sunlight and fresh air every day, reducing screen time in the second half of the day, and getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Reduce stress, even in a few small ways.
— Practice moving diversely in ways that help the body tissues to be more functional. This includes strength training and having healthy lymphatic circulation.
By making a few upgrades in the way we provide fuel for our bodies, we can support our health to better meet the changing demands around us. Whether these demands are weather-related, work-related, or some other responsibility, having more fuel in the metaphorical tank can help us a lot.
Here’s to being warm, rested, moving well, and having a happy belly!”
Thank you so much to Gail for giving us some wintertime nutrition tips. Join our Facebook group, Spring Into Greens, for more nutrition help. If you are interested in working on your nutrition with Gail, book a complimentary 20-minute Discovery Call here to find out if Next Ingredient consultations are the right fit for you.