Winter is a time for snuggling up and staying warm. But be careful of the indulgences that may compromise your health in the long run.
1. Indulging in comfort foods
Bad eating habits during winter tend to be a common thing, but be aware that eating foods with too much sugar or fat and not enough fruit and vegetables can harm your immune system. You could also gain weight, which can put you at risk of many diseases such as obesity and heart-related problems in the long run. Stock up on healthy vegetables, winter fruits, legumes, lean protein foods (e.g. chicken and fish), dairy and whole grains. Cook from scratch, using less sugar, fat and salt. Working by the stove will warm you up, and you’ll be enjoying a hearty, homemade meal.
2. Not getting any exercise
In winter, people become lazy when it comes to exercise, and a chilly wind or gust of rain can undermine your best intentions. Exercising less leads to weight gain, which can increase your risk of a number of diseases. Walk outdoors or on a treadmill for at least 20 minutes a day. This will also keep your immune system strong. Just remember to wash your hands if you’ve been using gym equipment. The person who used it before you may have left flu or cold germs behind…
3. Sleeping for too long
Winter is the perfect excuse to change our sleeping patterns. We tend to go to bed earlier than usual and wake up later, blaming the darkness and the miserable weather for our hibernation. Take note, however, that research links sleeping too much with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. So, it’s better to stick to your regular sleep routine.
4. Spending too much time indoors
When it’s cold it certainly is tempting just to stay inside. But your house may not be well-ventilated, which means that dust, smoke, mould, odours, allergens and germs may get trapped. Get out in the sun as much as possible – fresh air is good for you, and the sun will help keep your spirits up, too. Don’t forget to regularly open your windows and doors for fresh air.
5. Taking long, hot showers
Taking a steaming shower in winter certainly is comforting, but the water and heat dry out your skin. Take fewer showers and baths, lower the temperature of the water, and don’t soak in the tub or shower for hours on end. Moisturise your entire body every day – this includes using a good day and night cream on your face, and good-quality conditioner on your hair.
6. Drinking less water
Coffee and Ceylon tea are popular drinks on cold winter days. But while these drinks help hydrate you, the caffeine they contain (a diuretic) means they’re not as effective at topping up your fluid levels as water. Staying hydrated means you’re better able to cope with infections like cold and flu. Plus, your skin and your weight will thank you. And, of course, water also plays a key role in a myriad of body functions. If you crave the comfort of a warm drink, try boiled water with a slice of lemon or a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea.
7. Too much booze
There’s nothing quite like a glass of red wine on a blustery winter’s evening. But it’s worth keeping an eye on the amount of wine you drink, or you might pile on the pounds. Plus, you might find it difficult to cut down again in spring, when you swop your winter coat for lighter, more revealing clothes. For general good health, try not to have more than one drink a day if you’re a woman and two if you’re a guy. One drink (or one unit of alcohol) is equal to 1 small glass of wine, 1 small glass of sherry or 1 single measure of spirits.