Make a healthy shift this winter

The seasonal chill has many of us reaching for our comfort foods.

It’s easy to add extra warmth and nutrition with new flavours and a bit of extra knowledge.

Many fruits and vegetables are in-season during the cooler months.

We can use them in creative and appetising ways to give our bodies an extra boost of vitamins and minerals.

See how you can make a healthy shift this winter...

What’s in-season

Winter-fresh fruits include apples, pears, kiwifruit, citrus fruit, melon, oranges, passionfruit, plums, pomegranate, rhubarb, and tamarillos. All season fruits include bananas, berries, grapes, avocados and tomatoes.

You’ll find plenty of the vegetables like Asian greens, beans, capsicum, celery, chilli, cucumber, eggplant, leek, lettuce, onions, peas, potato, pumpkin, spinach, sweet corn, sweet potato and zucchini.

Better health with each bite

How we nourish our bodies can have an impact on our mental health and immunity.

Busy schedules often leave us time poor and reaching for pre-prepared meals on the go.

There are easy ways to plan and prepare nourishing foods which can keep you feeling warm and full this winter.

If you need some extra inspiration for work lunches, something sweet, or your next round of bulk cooking for the week:

  • Everyday Health recommends soup, citrus fruit, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and salmon.
  • Add kidney beans, barley, walnuts, dark chocolate, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries for an extra antioxidant boost.

Meals to support your mood

Fewer daylight hours in winter can affect our mood, this can sometimes manifest at work.

At least one in three of Australians struggle with low mood during cooler months Nutrition Australia has found.

This can be known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

“We know that winter can be a challenging time” Colleen Zubrzycki from Generation Health said.

“Colder weather and shorter days can impact mental health, however there are many things you can do to stay mentally healthy during these months.”

According to Beyond Blue, SAD manifests depression-like symptoms – feeling hopeless, lacking energy, changes in sleep or eating patterns, less desire to be social or intimate, or loss of pleasure from things you enjoy.

Subtle changes to our food can help support our mood.

  1. Add more wholegrains, nuts, oats, muesli, and fruit to your first meal of the day.
  2. Get extra vitamin D from your meal – reach for more eggs, fatty fish, mushrooms, and fortified milks (animal and plant-based milks).
  3. Craving high fat or high sugar comfort foods? For long-lasting energy add oily fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines), nuts (walnuts), seeds (chia seeds) and olives to your meals.

Eat seasonally, save money

You can eat a varied, healthy diet in a cost-effective way.

If you’re environmentally conscious, living on a budget or just looking to shake up your cooking, there’s some great benefits to eating seasonally.

Buying produce which is in-season means you’re buying cheaper, fresher, and more flavourful produce.
Fuel Your Life has a few tips to help you get started:

  1. Research what produce is seasonal in your area.
  2. Find some seasonal recipes online or swap recipes with friends.
  3. Purchase directly from your local farmer’s markets.

From patio to plate

Gardening encourages the use of our motor skills, endurance and strength, and helps keep you to get moving, according to Queensland Health. People who engage in gardening also report better mental health.

It is an activity which can accommodate all abilities and many different living spaces.

Go from patio to plate, with a range of fruits and vegetables to sow and harvest in cooler weather.

Don’t let low light stop you either, make use of tools such as grow lights to get through darker periods.

Do your research or consult with your local gardening centre to get started.

Tips for managers

Workplaces can support their employees to be seasonally conscious in a few ways:

  • Put up posters to remind everyone to wash their hands, to help slow the spread of seasonal sickness.
  • Encourage gentle movement and stretches throughout the working day.
  • Encourage employees not to push themselves if they’re unwell, and to use their sick leave.
  • Affirm the use of non-handshake gestures such as bumping elbows, waving, fist bumps.
  • Offering flexible work arrangements to employees who are, or have loved ones who are immunocompromised – e.g., elderly relatives, in hospice care, receiving cancer treatment or live with an autoimmune condition.

To get more people in the office involved in exploring simple, healthier choices you can try some group activities:

  • Pre-ordering a team lunch or morning tea from a new venue from your usual one.
  • Get your employees to vote on a speaker or webinar topic they would like, on nutrition, cooking, gardening etc.
  • Have an intra-office cooking challenge – like a points-based challenge or being creative with different ingredients each week.