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4 great reasons to eat more seasonally this month
Registered Nutritionist Emma Wylie shares why eating in season is important.
Winter has arrived! And with any change in season it’s a good idea to adjust our eating as there are so many benefits to eating seasonally.
1. In season produce
Choosing to buy fresh produce that is in season is not only cost effective due to its abundance, but it also is more likely to be locally sourced and nutrient dense. This is because any produce that is locally sourced can be harvested much closer to its ripening time as it doesn’t need to travel far, than for example imported produce. With a later harvest the produce can spend a little longer absorbing nutrients from the soils and sunlight, making the produce richer in nutrients, and flavour too!
Seasonal veggies for winter include root veggies like pumpkin, kumara, parsnip and carrots, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, cauliflower and dark leafy greens like silverbeet. Fruits include citrus, apples and pears, tamarillos and persimmons.
Aim to include as many of these plant foods in your meals as possible in the next few months!
2. Let’s get cosy!
The types of meals we make during winter can be just as important as the produce we chose to make them with.
In a place where it’s colder for a larger proportion of the year, Scandinavian people have absolutely mastered the art of winter with their concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-guh). Hygge is all about making life cosy and warm during the cooler months to help boost mood and health.
Hygge is all about eating hearty and warming foods like broths, soups, casseroles and oven bakes to nourish our bodies and keep our souls warm. Prioritising wellness is an important element of hygge, where we can see how their sauna culture can fit in well, as well as other mindfulness exercises like yoga, warm baths, journaling and meditation.
We highly recommend prioritising warming foods and a little self-care this month, as these can be just as important as exercise and nutrition for our overall health and wellness.
3. Eating for immunity
You’d think someone told nature what to grow during the winter months to boost our immunity, as winter veggies are rich in a number of the key nutrients needed to support a healthy immune system!
Vitamin A: orange root veggies like pumpkin, kumara and carrot are all great sources of beta-carotene, which our bodies can convert into vitamin A. Other great sources of vitamin A include proteins like fish, red meat and chicken and eggs.
Vitamin C: citrus fruits, kiwifruit, cabbage and Brussels, as well as capsicums are all great sources of vitamin C, the ultimate immune-boosting vitamin.
Aromatics like garlic, onion and ginger: garlic and onion come from a family that are rich in a sulfur-compound (hence the pungent aroma) and ginger contains an active ingredient called gingerol, both of which have huge antioxidant benefits and help to strengthen our immune system. Luckily these ingredients are so easy to cook into wintery soups and stews!
Vitamin D: most commonly known as the sunshine vitamin, vit D is incredibly important not just for a well-functioning immune system, but also for our mood. Research shows us that low vitamin D levels significantly correlates with low mood and depression. During the winter months we’re far less likely to convert our vit D needs from the sun, so this is why it’s important to look to food like oily fish, red meat, eggs or mushrooms for our daily dose of vitamin D. When it is sunny, aim to get some safe sun exposure on bare skin (about half the time it would take to turn pink) for a nutrient top-up.
We want to keep our immune system strong and functioning, and our mood up to help us maintain our exercise routine during the winter months.
4. Fueling our bodies for exercise
During the winter months our bodies need to use more energy to simply thermoregulate i.e. keep our bodies at the constant temperature they’re most happy at (around 37 degrees). This uses more energy (more than you think!) and exercising outdoors can further affect our body’s need to thermoregulate. For this reason we want to make sure we’re nourishing our bodies with enough energy by eating balanced meals, and including either fat and/or protein at every eating occasion.
Getting out of bed for an early morning exercise session, or leaving a cosy house on a wintery afternoon to get out for a walk can seem really grim, so making sure you’ve got a warming and delicious post exercise meal to look forward to can certainly make it easier! Change up your breakfast to protein porridge, an omelette or a warm chia pudding (see our recipe below!), or your change up dinner to a hearty beef stew, chicken and veggie soup or a lasagne to motivate you through your chillier workout!