As spring approaches we naturally gravitate outdoors, we begin to socialise more around the good old kiwi bbq or out at the beach, which is great for the soul and the Vitamin D levels but it can also mean we begin more social drinking, or enjoying one too many Mr. Whippy ice creams on the beach side.
Spring also follows winter, which, can mean some winter weight might of crept on, the winter blues are lingering or energy levels just aren’t as good as you’d hoped.
Here are some top tips for getting the spring back in your step, the excitement back in your soul and have you feeling great:
1. GET OUT DOORS
After a long winter and little sun a large percentage of New Zealanders are lacking or have below optimal levels of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for healthy immune function, healthy weight, gut health, mental health and so much more. As little as 15 minutes under the sun (without sunscreen), 3 times a week enables your body to make enough vitamin D ,but you need to be sensible. I recommend having your blood levels checked once a year to see where you’re at and supplement accordingly until you reach a healthy normal range, around 70-100nmol/l.
2. HEALTHY BBQ SWAPS
Common meat we use on our regular spring time BBQ often include high fat, processed sausages - these foods can cause weight gain, low energy and inflammation so next time you’re heading out take along some white meat chicken, good quality lean cuts of red meat and unprocessed sausages. Packed with protein and nutrients, chicken, lean ground beef and turkey, tenderloin steak, fish, fork chops or organic Tofu. This will support healthy blood sugar levels keep you on the right track. When desert is due to follow, try reaching for some fresh or frozen fruit or yogurt, smoothie bowls or homemade ice tea (not sugar loaded) rather than endless scoops of ice cream which is high in refined sugars, unhealthy fats and often a load of artificial colours and flavours.
3. DRINK WISELY
Alcohol has a stimulating effect on our body. Like other stimulating substances such as; caffeine, sugar and refined carbohydrates, alcohol raises insulin and cortisol within the body. It's also a pure carbohydrate, so alcohol basically has the same effect on the body as drinking a soft drink. Your blood sugar levels will spike, providing you with an immediate source of energy followed by a crash. Only 10% of the alcohol you drink affects the brain giving you that ‘drunk’ feeling the other 80% just hits the liver making it one of the biggest liver loaders. Try switching up, limiting or leaving out the alcohol as much as you can, opt for things like sparkling water and kombucha or alternate having these in-between your drinks.
4. GET MOVING
During winter it is a common occurrence for us humans to naturally want to stay indoors, and not move as much – but now the weather is warming up now is the time to move that body again! Set realistic goals to ease your way back into it, avoid going from the couch to the gym 7 days a week, you’ll fatigue and loose motivation, start slow and enjoy the process. Walks on the beach or yoga are great activities to help keep stress levels down.
5. INCREASE YOUR RAW FOOD INTAKE
Over winter we tend to consume more cooked foods, which is great as our digestive function slows somewhat due to lack or less movement however, cooking foods can destroy some of our essential vitamins needed for energy production, adrenal health (stress support) and immune function. Vitamin C is water-soluble and sensitive to heat, it can leach out of vegetables when they're immersed in hot water. B vitamins are similarly heat sensitive. Up to 60% of thiamine, niacin, and other B vitamins may be lost when our meat and vegetables get cooked.
6. KEEP CALM
I recommend doing something that makes you smile every day and making time to practice diaphragmatic breathing as often as you can, this action will automatically switch your body into the rest and digest state and help you achieve ALL your health goals better!
Written by Jess Wharton, Gut Health Nutritionist