Beat Winter Fatigue

By: Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE FAND 

If you feel like hibernating, we can blame it on the earth’s tilt. The winter solstice is that point when the earth is tilted away from the sun at its most extreme angle. The winter solstice occurs on December 21, meaning that it is our shortest day of the year. Short days bring feelings of lethargy to many.

Fortunately, the winter solstice also means that we’re inching our way toward summer!

But it will be a slow climb to long glorious summer days. For now, we’re still short on sunlight and long on cold nights. Take heart, there are several things we can do to the beat winter slowdown.

Get some light.

Less time in the sunlight may interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythms. That’s why light therapy is used to treat seasonal affective disorder, also called SAD. Try to take a few minutes outside early in the day and again around lunchtime or whenever you can find a short break. Work it into your schedule, so it becomes routine.Using a wake-up light hugely attenuates the inertia I feel for the first hour of the morning, especially when rising before sunrise. It’s a gentle type of alarm clock that simulates the sunrise over 30 minutes, starting with a soft red light and gradually increasing to a bright yellow light that fills my bedroom like a beautiful day I want to greet.

Get some exercise. Get some exercise.
It goes without saying: Expending some energy in exercise boosts feeling of energy. Lounging on the couch in front of the TV leads to more feelings of low energy.
Protect your sleep. Protect your sleep.
Be mindful of caffeine, alcohol and anything else that may disrupt your sleep. Try to stick to a regular schedule of going to bed and getting up in the morning.
Eat smart. Eat smart.
This also goes without saying. Don’t let the winter holidays or lack of farmer’s markets nudge you toward unhealthful eating. You still need ample fruits and vegetables, protein at most of your meals, a focus on whole plant foods, heart-healthy unsaturated fats and a reasonable limit on added sugars, sodium and saturated and trans fats. These EZ Baked Apples make a perfect winter dessert or snack and give you lots of good nutrition and taste without extra calories or added sugars.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is the author of Diabetes Weight Loss – Week by Week and two upcoming books, The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition and 21 Things You Need to Know about Diabetes and Your Heart. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Association of Diabetes Educators and the American Diabetes Association. Jill is a paid contributor to Sucralose.org. Follow Jill on Twitter @NutritionJill and find more at www.JillWeisenberger.com.

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