Warming Winter Wellness
by Laura Cini
Well, winter is upon us in Hobart. One of my friends calls it the season of hibernation, hot chocolate and hot chips. She asked me the other day whether it was normal to feel hungrier in the colder months than the warmer ones.
Many people find winter hard, and I suspect this hunger is more of a psychological craving for warmth and comfort rather than being actual, physical hunger.
For my hot chip-loving friend winter is a time of chilblains, coughs, colds and just feeling meh. For some, winter brings SAD: seasonal affective disorder, which is a type of depression that usually starts in autumn and continues through winter.
I don’t mind the cold too much, but it’s the lack of light that gets to me. If you’re getting up in the dark, working inside all day and travelling home in the dark, there’s little exposure to natural light. Less time in natural light can decrease the body’s serotonin production (a ‘feel-good’ hormone) and upset your sleep cycle.
So, what to do? Get outside every day around midday for at least 10 minutes. Even if it’s overcast this bit of natural light will help. Going for a lunch-time walk is one way to do this.
Drink enough fluid. With inside heating, you can dehydrate quickly leaving you feeling tired, sluggish and headachy. Go for warming drinks like herbal teas, ginger tea, or chai. Even hot water with a squeeze of lemon or a generous splash of kombucha is great.
Peel yourself off the couch and do some exercise. Outside if possible. When I mentioned this to my friend, she grumbled that it was too cold (like a hibernating bear in winter, she doesn’t like to leave her home ‘cave’). Exercising indoors is still a great option. Exercise will improve blood circulation and release endorphins, increasing your sense of well-being.
If you’re wanting help to support your immune system, an experienced natural health practitioner has some great options in their toolbox including evidence-based nutritional and herbal medicine.
Lastly, not too much hibernation alone in your cave. Get out and catch up with friends for a chai, hot chocolate, curry or some occasional hot chippies, (smiley face)!
Laura Cini is an expert nutritionist, herbalist and naturopath with over 20 years’ experience. She sees clients, is a regular guest on radio, does podcasts and blogs. Visit lauraciniwellness.com or connect @lauraciniwellness.
DIY MILD CURRY PASTE
1 large onion (roughly chopped)
3 teaspoons dried ginger
4 large cloves garlic
1 ½ teaspoons cumin powder
1 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds ground
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
Blitz all with a stick blender into a paste.
I sauté all this paste in a few tablespoons of olive oil for a few minutes, then add enough chicken (chopped into chunks) for four people. Then I add a mix of veggies (e.g. mushrooms, zucchini, pumpkin, sweet potato etc.) and about half a can of coconut cream. I bring this to a gentle simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or so.