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Surviving the Winter: Easing the Toll on Health and Fitness

By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County

The Truth Contributor


Although some local residents love the winter, it can easily take a toll on our health and wellness.  I’ll admit that I love living in a place with four seasons but I know as the cold weather moves in and all the Halloween candy is now on sale at the stores, it can be a time of year to think about “survival”.


You may be thinking “don’t remind me” but it is the time of year to make a healthy plan for the holidays and the winter season.  Survivor’s Guide to Winter is the theme of the 2015 Live Healthy Live Well Online Challenge, a free six-week email challenge designed to help participants challenge their health, emotional wellbeing, and survival skills this season.


The Survivor’s Guide to Winter will cover a wide variety of topics from: cooking during the season, beating holiday stress, creating a winter tool kit, staying positive, finding ways to move, cultivating relationships and opportunities, and financial tips.


Wow! That’s a lot of topics.  What do they all have to do with healthy eating? In reality, all of those topics can easily sway our decisions about food. If we are feeling rushed, obligated, stressed or sad, we don’t always make the healthiest food choices. 


While comfort food is often very personal and might represent different foods to different people, winter comfort food is often hearty and rich.  Unfortunately, if comfort food is too rich or too high in calories and eaten too often, it will add extra calories and fat to the daily diet which results in weight gain. 

Clemson University Extension defines comfort food as “any food or beverage that gives a comforting, satisfying feeling after you consume it. It provides temporary relief (e.g. stress relief) or a sense of emotional well-being (e.g. happiness, security or a reward)”. There are no “bad” foods but if food is being used for emotional comfort and not for hunger satisfaction and nutrition, it could cause a winter weight gain.


What does “surviving the winter” mean from a nutrition point of view?  Although winter doesn’t pull up the same images of blue skies and fresh produce compared to when we think about summer or fall, there are plenty of fall fruits and vegetables that store well and are available through the next few months like apples, onions, winter squash, sweet potatoes, beets and turnips. 


In addition, winter is a good time to experiment and try new recipes with frozen foods and low-sodium canned foods.  It’s the time of year when a hearty bowl of oatmeal or other cooked cereal with fruit and nuts is a great start to the day.


Instead of feeling stressed, can we cultivate feelings of relaxation, gratitude and healthy resolutions? Can this winter be a time of health and wellness and thriving verses just surviving?  What are your favorite comfort foods and how can they fit into your healthy lifestyle? 


Can you adapt recipes? Choose smaller portions of that food less often?  What are some healthy ways you like to counteract stress and  cooped-up feelings during the wintertime? My winter wish for you is a healthy, delicious and enjoyable season.


Join us online for the six-week wellness challenge as we give tips for a healthier lifestyle and better balance during the holidays. Sign up here: http://go.osu.edu/SGWLucas. The Challenge lasts from November 23, 2015 to January 3, 2016. If you have questions, please feel free to contact your OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Educator in Lucas County, Patrice Powers-Barker, powers-barker.1@osu.edu



Copyright © 2015 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:25 -0700.

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