As the Winter’s cold sets in, you may notice that your appetite has increased. Like the black bear preparing for hibernation, our increased appetite is in fact a primitive instinct. Our descendants used to need to increase their calorie intake in order to survive the cold, harsh Winter months. Nowadays we have heated houses, cars and warm clothes to keep us warm and healthy, so it’s not as important.
Due to the chilly temperatures, our bodies are expending a little more energy than usual to adapt to the cooler air. This is why you may feel more hungry after being outside, or in a cold room. The cool air can induce non-shivering thermogenesis (NST).
Cold hands and feet. Blue lips. Dry skin. All Winter norms. Spoil yourself with a nice body lotion that has a nice fragrance. It’s often the small things that make a big difference. Lately I have been using coconut oil to keep my skin hydrated. I like adding essential oils to my coconut oil – at the moment it’s a blend of bergamot and lavender. Bergamot has a nice citrus smell which lifts your mood and can actually aid your digestive system. Lavender is calming and can improve cognitive function. Another benefit from using coconut oil and essential oils is that you are not applying loads of chemicals to your skin.
Our emotional well-being can also be affected by the cold, dark days. Some of us turn to cosier things to keep us content. In Denmark, we have a word called “hygge” – a term for well-being and is said to be the secret to happiness. Picture the soft glow of warm lights, candlelit dinners, chunky knit sweaters, reading a book in front of the fire with a lovely cup of tea or hot chocolate, snuggling with a loved one… this is hygge.
Comfort food is a welcome indulgence too. Try to keep your regular healthy daily diet routine, but allow room for the foods that will make the Winter season a little more cozy. Adding warm spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger to your food will help you to feel warmer and increase blood circulation.
Cinnamon is a natural antibiotic, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent so it helps you fight off sickness. Cinnamon also helps to balance blood sugar levels which is a bonus during the Christmas festivities.
I like to enjoy Christmas goodies and lots of chocolate, and choose to do this without feeling guilty. When you make a decision (whether it is eating that piece of Christmas cake or something entirely different) be sure to do it wholeheartedly. Making a decision and then worrying about it or regretting it is simply a waste of good energy. We all need to focus more on the positives in life. Life is all about balance. Should you “accidentally” happen to have gobbled away on all the chocolates in the house – don’t fret too much. Eating smaller portions the following days and a few good walks will even it out. Be easy and speak positively to yourself.
I go to the gym more often during these months, to boost energy and serotonin levels, to produce more endorphins and to balance out my increased lust for comfort food. If you are lacking motivation – remind yourself that often the hardest part is getting yourself to the gym. Some of my best workouts have been on days where I’m tired and expecting the worst.
Long walks with the dogs are not only great for the dogs, but benefit you immensely too. Did you know that walking as little as 30 minutes a day can reduce our risk of heart disease by 40 percent? According to statistics from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – heart disease is the number 1 killer in America.
Even a mere 20 minutes of yoga at home can help to keep you fit, if you do it on a regular basis. It’s easily available online (there are loads of free youtube videos), and the feeling you get afterwards is so rewarding.
Enjoy yourself this Winter, and remember to “hygge”!
Hannah – Anni’s Vital Shop, Mijas Costa