Healthy winter eating tips for cyclists
By Jeffrey Stern
It’s cold, dark and we already know motivation is lacking to workout during the winter months, so how in are you going to find the time to eat balanced, healthy meals?
The short answer is, well, there is no short answer–it’s just hard. Very similar to finding motivation to actually get outside and get exercise or workouts in, you have to make a plan and stick to it. It’s way too easy to get stuck inside, lacking motivation to shop fresh and eat frozen meal after frozen meal until your freezer is bone dry. If however, you make a plan to take a visit to the grocery store once a week to stock up on fresh fruit like oranges (high in vitamin C), dark leafy greens (rich in vitamins A, C and K), foods like potatoes (immunity boosters—vitamins C and B6) and squash (high vitamin A) then you have the basis for all kinds of healthy meals.
Here are a few more tips to get you started on healthy winter eating habits:
1. Avoid too many comfort foods.
We all crave them and each of us has a slightly different weak link. There’s thousands of sweet, salty, innutritious snack foods that often come pre-packaged in large quantities and bags that like to stay open rather than close simply. They’re so conducive to eating in one sitting that that’s often what happens. But don’t do it! Keep ONE (or maybe two, but no more) of these comfort foods in your house and out of sight. Hit it in small doses when the urge comes, but show some self-restraint. We’re all adults and know what this means. I have faith in you, so have some faith in yourself and keep it to a minimum. It’s okay to go after these foods once in a while, but all day everyday will do nothing but hurt your health and fitness in the long run.
2. Eat more fruits and veggies.
Now this is the stuff we want to eat a lot of during the winter months. These colorful and flavorful vegetables/fruits from the earth help reduce the risk of many diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease and even some cancers. Plus, they are full of vitamins and minerals your body needs to fight off the pesky viruses known to plague people during the colder months of the year. Best of all, they contain natural sugars that help you feel energized, healthy and ready to take on the day or fight a bug if you happen to pick one up.
3. Take a daily multivitamin.
Even those of us that eat the recommended five full servings of vegetables and fruit each day are lacking in some areas. Multivitamins come in all shapes, sizes and flavors and can easily help augment the healthiness of your diet. Don’t be fooled, vitamins are not a replacement for eating a healthy and balanced diet, but they are a great addition.
4. More liquid, more often.
Our bodies are working extra hard to stay warm, fight off bugs and keep us moving through the days activities. Although you might not be sweating more than during the hot summer months, it’s much harder to drink during the winter and the common thirst indicator often escapes us. For that reason, it’s easy to fall behind on hydration. Drink early and often, even if you’re not sure you’re thirsty, your body likely needs the fluids. Even better, find a light electrolyte drink to keep sodium/potassium levels up throughout the day, especially if you worked out in the morning or are planning to in the evening.
These are not foolproof ways to avoid the flu or other temporarily debilitating illnesses during the winter, but they definitely won’t hurt you. Keeping a balanced diet with copious amounts of fruit and vegetables, avoiding the urge to snack hard on guilty pleasures everyday, supplementing with a multivitamin and keeping hydrated will increase your chances of staying healthy and make it even easier to stay motivated to get the exercise in that your body wants and needs.