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Eating for the severe cold weather

Ginger is one of the best spices for warming up the body in the winter
Ginger is one of the best spices for warming up the body in the winter

The cold weather in Wisconsin has been relentless this year. The severe cold makes it difficult to enjoy winter sports or even to just get outside and enjoy the winter beauty. Historically people changed their eating habits through the year so that they could adapt too the cold. Many people stick to the same healthy (or unhealthy ) eating style throughout the year. For those who feel that they are sensitive to the cold and are not adapting to the the colder weather, the answer may be a change in diet.

Cold weather has a couple of factors that impact people. First of course is the cold temperatures. As warm blooded creatures people use calories in food to produce heat to drive body functions. Cold air also does not hold moisture. Dry air makes it difficult to keep skin and lungs moist and nourished. Essentially extended cold weather creates desert-like conditions which many people are not used to. Eating foods that specifically help the body deal with the challenges of cold weather, will make it easier for a person to adapt to the cold and enjoy more winter activities.

Foods that help the body deal with cold are generally calorie dense and cooked. This would include meats, fats and soups, as well as foods that naturally have a heavy dense feel to them and naturally store well in winter climates. This would include root vegetables and squash. These foods can be enhanced in their warming nature by adding warm spices. Warm spices would include ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and garlic. Other spices that can also be of help are the red hot spices, and mustard and curry.

The dryness of winter air needs to be countered by increased oils in the diet. Increased water is of course also important, but it is oils that help nourish and moisten the skin to seal in the water of the body against the dry air. Nut and seed oils tend to be best in this regard. They would include all of the common vegetable oils including sunflower, olive, walnut and sesame. Sesame oil in particular is very helpful topically on the skin. Liberal use of topical moisturizers also help the body retain fluids and give the body a feeling of protection against the dry air.

Eating warm winter foods can help the body feel comfortable and prepared for the cold weather. This can also help the body stay healthy in regards to colds and flu, as well as minimize the dry cough and asthma like conditions that are common in the winter.