Healthy Winter Nutrition

Winter does not mean the end of the growing season in Ontario. Do your body some good in the winter by choosing from these available fresh options and avoiding foods that do nothing for you.

by Amy Postma

A good balanced diet is a big help in keeping our moods up during the long winter months. Just because the ground is frozen or covered with snow does not limit the fresh food options growing in Canada from which to choose for a healthy diet. Registered Holistic Nutritionist Kim Baumgartl-Purslow recommends root vegetables, including sweet potatoes, potatoes, and parsnips. They are all available as fresh options during the winter months. These hearty vegetables are excellent foundations for tasty soups, stews, and casseroles. Foodland Ontario’s availability guide  is a great resource for determining what fresh foods are growing in the winter and lists beets, carrots, and onions, among others, as available in the winter months. When fresh options seem sparse, there are always stored fruit and vegetable options lining the grocery store shelves as well.

photo by Barbara Saul, United Kingdom, 2006

Another important thing to remember is to avoid foods that do your body no good. Baumgartl-Purslow recommends avoiding refined foods like white bread as well as commercial cookies, cereals, and cakes. These foods can disrupt your blood-sugar levels and will “lead to insomnia, fatigue, and irritability,” she explains, adding little to your body nutritionally and instead using up your body’s stores of vitamins and minerals. She advises balancing your diet with essential fats, phospholipids, amino acids, and antioxidant rich vitamins and minerals as well as keeping your glucose (sugar) levels balanced to stabilize your mood. Todo this, you would have to include adding fish and green leafy vegetables to your diet or look for vitamin and mineral supplements.

In addition, combining exercise with proper nutrition “can allow for a more alert mind, better sleep, and a more balanced mood day to day,” Baumgartl-Purslow mentions, in effect giving you the energy to enjoy every part of your life. To really take proper care of your health during the winter months with proper nutrition, one must also avoid excessive caffeine, such as in coffee, tea, and chocolate, as they can “negatively affect your mood as they are stimulants that disrupt the proper functioning of the mind,” adds Baumgartl-Purslow.

Finally, one last way to maintain a balanced diet in the winter is to make sure you are getting good brain-functioning nutrients, including Vitamin B and C, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. Baumgartl-Purslow explains: “You can get many of these nutrients by making sure you are eating between 5 and 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, as well as including nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans.” She suggests considering supplementation if fresh food options are hard to come by, as our food options today are lacking in vitamins and minerals compared to the available foods of decades before. A good quality multivitamin that includes all of the above listed vitamins and minerals are a beneficial addition to a diet that is otherwise lacking fresh food, especially in the winter.

If you consider all that Ontario has to offer in terms of nutrition, even in the winter months, and combine a fresh diet with these extra tips for boosting your wellness, anyone can enjoy a healthy, balanced diet all year long.

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