Nutrition: Change your diet with the seasons to stay healthier
BY THIS stage in September, you are probably back into a busy weekday routine and summer days feel like an age ago.
As the nights draw in and the weather changes (again), it is a good time to get some daily habits into your day that will help support your health throughout the autumn.
If this time of year usually hits your mood and energy levels, then make this year different. Make a list of all the things you are looking forward to in autumn and focus on the good stuff. Changing your diet with the seasons, getting the fire on, autumn walks – whatever it is, tuning into the change of season and going with it is much better for your mind and body than dreading the dark nights and wishing for better weather.
SIT LESS, MOVE MORE
Rather than going into hibernation mode, get out there and enjoy the change of season. Most of us sit on our bums for too many hours in a day.
Lack of activity is a risk factor for many conditions and diseases, from heart disease to type 2 diabetes, so get moving.
Even a short walk after eating can make a difference. It has been shown that a 10 to 30-minute walk after a meal can lower glucose levels, so what are you waiting for?
SHAKE UP YOUR SALAD BOWL
It is time to move away from lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber and embrace the autumn veggies. That’s not to say that salads are off the table. Using seasonal veg like carrots, beetroot, red onion, rocket, spinach or chard and kale make great salads. Try adding some apple or pear and make up a dressing with apple cider vinegar, wholegrain mustard and a decent olive oil.
Add a handful of toasted nuts or seeds and serve with your protein of choice for a great lunch, or serve as a side dish with dinner to optimise your nutrition at teatime.
FEED YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
It’s time to up the ante with ingredients to help support a healthy immune system. Garlic has anti-viral properties and is best used raw, or if you are using it in cooking, crush it, chop it and add it at the end of cooking to help maximise its immune potential.
Eat an orange-coloured vegetable like carrot, sweet potato or butternut squash every day – perfect added to seasonal salads, curries, soups and other one-pot wonders.
Give your immune system a break and cut back on high sugar foods. A good place to start is your breakfast bowl. Check the label and make sure that you are not inadvertently loading up on sugar first thing in the morning. Aim for 5g or less per 100g.
EAT WARMING FOODS
If you are feeling the cold, then get spicy with ginger, turmeric, paprika, chilli and cayenne. These spices have warming effect and are delicious in long, slow cooked dishes.
Switch to warm salads, soups or leftovers for lunch as the temperature drops.
GET BACK INTO YOUR VITAMIN D
It’s that time of year to start topping up your vitamin D levels. It is recommended that adults supplement 2000iu between October and May, but as the summer sun was so elusive, I suggest you get on it a little earlier this year. You can get your vitamin D levels tested with a simple pin-prick blood test at betteryou.com. That way you’ll know exactly how much your body needs, and take the guesswork out of supplementation.