Your nutrition matters year-round. But in the winter, slipping into bad eating habits can be easy. The holidays can get us into a pattern of eating lots of sweets and disregarding our health. Eating well is crucial for maintaining energy, strength, and clarity of the mind. Here are some easy ways seniors can get the proper nutrition this winter.
Why Nutrition Matters in the Winter
There are many reasons nutrition is essential in the winter.
- Maintain strength: The chance of falls increase in the winter months with inclement weather. Eating well won't stop you from falling, but it can help the severity of a fall’s effects. Caring for your nutrient needs will make you stronger, so that a fall may not be as harmful. Incorporating a wellness plan and eating foods with protein such as meat, veggies, eggs, and almonds can help you maintain strength.
- Shorter days: In the winter, the days get shorter, which means there is less exposure to the sun and less natural absorption of vitamin D. Eating foods like salmon, egg yolks, red meat and oranges will help.
- Higher calorie requirement: You tend to burn more calories in the winter as your body works harder to stay warm. It is important to stay on top of your nutrition and calorie needs during these months and be sure you are consuming enough calories to stay strong. Eating foods like olive oil, granola, nuts, and peanut butter can help you meet your calorie requirement.
What Nutrients Can Be Missed in the Winter?
As mentioned above, we typically get less sunshine in winter, so we can start lacking vitamin D.
Additionally, it’s important to make sure we continue to nourish our bodies with Omega-3 fatty acids throughout the colder months as this nutrient helps keep our mood boosted, skin hydrated, and is a great way to maintain cardiovascular health. An example of foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids are fish, nuts/seeds, and plant oils.
Another nutrient to consider during the cold weather is vitamin E. The harsh winter weather can lead the skin to become dry and can cause skin conditions like eczema to flare up. Foods that are rich in Vitamin E can help nourish our skin such as avocados, broccoli and spinach.
What Foods Are Seasonal in the Winter?
An excellent approach to nutrition is to eat food that is "in season." Recently harvested foods are more widely available in grocery stores, are more affordable and taste better because they're fresh.
Seasonal food can vary depending on the climate you live in. But generally speaking, some of the seasonal foods to incorporate into your diet this winter are:
- Brussels sprouts
- Butternut squash
- Winter cabbage
Senior Health in Winter
Nutrition is one of many parts of your health you should focus on in the winter. Seniors should also:
- Stay hydrated. Seniors are often at a higher risk for hypothermia. Staying hydrated is vital to maintain a proper body temperature, reducing the chances of getting hypothermia outdoors in the winter.
- Stay warm. Another way to reduce the risk of hypothermia is by staying warm. Seniors should always dress in plenty of layers when they're outdoors. Always keep the temperature at least 65 degrees or warmer at home.
- Be active. Seniors should continue to stay physically active in the winter. Keeping up with exercise can keep you strong.
- Be social. Your mental health is a part of your overall health. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can bring up feelings of loneliness and depression in the winter. Seniors should be proactive about staying social and maintaining connections so they don't feel isolated.
Vinson Hall Retirement Community
The winter weather won’t interfere with your nutritional needs when you're a part of the Vinson Hall Retirement Community. When you simply don't feel like cooking, our community has three excellent dining options: The Penthouse Dining Room, The Bistro and our Café. If you don’t feel like cooking, our in-house market is open in case you’re missing an ingredient so you always have options no matter the weather.
Contact us today for a tour. We'll be happy to show you your new home.