Stock up on sunlight and snacks to keep healthy this winter!

Jerusalem24 – Amir Elkadi – The winter season, relatively short as it may be in Palestine, presents its own unique set of challenges to our bodies. But with some simple adjustments to our diets, we can maintain our health and well-being throughout the colder months.

Clinical dietitian and community and public health specialist Jeeda Jaser tells Jerusalem24 that “body nutritional needs change in winter due to the temperature changes and less sunlight exposure.”

As these changes in the weather continue, our bodies require a healthy change in our diet in order to power through the cold snaps.

In-season produce

Winter provides us with a wealth of in-season foods that are naturally high in vitamins, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats, says Jaser.

“These include broccoli, which is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and kiwi, which provides nearly a day’s worth of Vitamin C (around 92 mg), fiber, and other nutrients.”

Root vegetables like carrots and beets, and dark leafy greens like kale and collard greens are also in-season during the winter months.

But food isn’t the only essential item on the menu in order to stay healthy diet in winter: plenty of water, Jaser reminds us, is indispensable.

“Water drinking is almost forgotten in winter because people don’t feel hot or thirsty. We have to keep drinking water and around six to eight cups daily to keep hydrated.”

A Palestinian farmer harvests carrots in Tubas, 2015. [Source: Palestine Now]

Vitamins D-eficiency

Jaser lists some common complaints of the cold season, and simple ways to try and prevent them.

“People may suffer from Vitamin D deficiency, or feel sadness, due to the shorter days and less exposure to sunlight during winter,” explains Jaser. “[People with] chronic diseases – especially diabetic people – may suffer from fluctuation in blood sugar if they don’t follow a certain schedule in winter.”

Jaser says it is crucial for everyone (not just those with prior conditions) to be mindful of food choices and make sure to include foods rich in Vitamin D in their diet.

Maintain your calorie intake

Another particularity of winter is our bodies may feel the need to consume foods that contain higher amounts of calories, because decreased core temperature during cold weather leads to an increase in cravings for high-calorie, sugary, and fatty foods to help keep us warm.

But this a trap we shouldn’t fall in, according to Jaser. We should avoid increasing our calorie intake while balancing the type of foods we ingest instead.

There are exceptions of course – but probably not here in Palestine.

“In some countries where temperatures drop to less than zero, we can increase the calories by around 150-200 calories on a daily basis,” Jaser explains.

And if you feel like you can’t help the cravings, she’s got some advice: “Get outside to expose [your] skin to sunlight, and take snacks regularly throughout the day to help avoid craving high-fat and sugary food.”

Illustrative: tea with lemon and honey. [Source: 24Mantra]

What to do if you do get sick

To keep the dreaded sniffles at bay, Jaser recommends “a small cup of green tea with a squeeze of lemon”, which is sure to boost your temperature as well as your immune system.

The antioxidants in green tea work to protect your body from harmful substances, while the lemon adds an extra boost of Vitamin C to keep you healthy.

And if the worse happens and the cold catches you, “you can take a bowl of vegetable soup or a hot drink to help you keep warm and heal faster.”

Listen to the full interview on Vibes for more pro tips on surviving winter!

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