Staying Healthy in Winter

rouge-gorge en hiver

The ancient Chinese believed that human beings should live in harmony with the natural cycles of their environment. Changes in the weather provoke changes in the body. The body requires time to adapt. Difficulty in adapting to weather conditions is often a contributing factor to seasonal illness. With the wind, rain, and snows of winter come the colds, flu, aches, and pains.

Winter is inactive, cold and damp by nature. The cold and darkness of winter cause a natural slowing of the body’s internal processes; a form of hibernation if you will. Everybody wants to instinctively stay under the covers on those cold, blustery winter days.

According to Chinese philosophy winter is ruled by the Water Element, which is associated with the Kidney and Bladder organs. The Kidneys are considered a vital source of all energy within the body. They also store reserve energy to be used in times of stress and change, to heal, prevent illness and age gracefully. Winter is the time of year to reflect on our health, replenish our energy, and conserve our strength in preparation for the burst of new life and growth in the spring.

Winter Foods

The body is conditioned to store fat in the winter in preparation for ideal developmental and growth conditions in the spring. So, wintertime is not the ideal time to begin a weight loss diet. People gain excessive amounts of weight in winter because they do not change their eating habits accordingly. Overindulging is common during the holidays, however, exercising a little restraint goes a long way towards maintaining a balanced health model.

Raw foods, clod foods and heavy, rich foods tax the digestive system more than normal and deplete energy reserves. Avoid raw foods during winter as much as possible.

During winter emphasize the warming foods (like grandma used to tell you).

  • Soups, stews and chili
  • Root vegetables
  • All kinds of beans
  • Spices like garlic, cloves, ginger and cinnamon
  • Teas and other warm drinks

A Few Simple Tips to Stay Healthy This Winter

A few good habits during wintertime can make the transition much less taxing and promote good health throughout.

  • Cover up. Chinese Medicine doctrine dictates that cold  that can lead to illness enters the body from the neck and shoulders so, it is very important the keep your neck and shoulders warm when outdoors. Most body heat escapes through the head. Consider wearing something to cover your head. Do not let parts of your body come in direct contact with cold surfaces. Pathogenic cold can enter the body through direct contact with cold surfaces causing roaming aches and pains that are aggravated by cold temperatures. This particular syndrome is impossible to detect via conventional medical methods and often mistaken for other illnesses.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Getting plenty of sleep (at night) enables your body to conserve energy used for healing and warming the body when exposed to colder climates.
  • Don’t eat too much. Your body’s natural tendency is to store fat in winter. Eating less will prevent excessive weight gain. Eating smaller more frequent meal will help maintain energy levels and moderate blood sugar levels.
  • Reduce stress. As difficult as it may seem, find a simple way to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Meditation or taking a long hot bath… choose your own method. Stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can easily deplete the immune system allowing illness to invade the body more easily.