We’ve all felt it – the winter blahs – often characterized by low motivation and low energy levels. Too many six a.m. skates, a lack of sunshine and poor nutrition choices can compound our natural desire to hibernate as the days become shorter and nights become longer but there is good news! There are several dietary habits (and recipes) that you can adopt to help to energize you and your family through the winter months.
What is energy and what nutrients are important for energy?
As discussed in October’s post, carbohydrates are our bodies’ main source of energy, especially during exercise. Good sources of healthy carbohydrates include vegetables and fruit and whole grains, such as whole wheat, quinoa and brown rice. However, giving our bodies carbohydrates alone won’t suffice to keep our bodies energized throughout the winter. We also need vitamins and minerals, which allow our bodies to make use of the food that we eat and help with energy levels. These ‘micro’ nutrients include the B-vitamins and iron.
Vitamin B1: Thiamin – Helps the body’s cells convert carbohydrates into energy
|Whole grains||Lean meats|
|Sunflower and sesame seeds||Organ meats|
Vitamin B2: Riboflavin – Helps the body in releasing energy from carbohydrates, in formation of red blood cells and in making use of other B vitamins.
|Spinach and other leafy greens||Lean meats|
Vitamin B3: Niacin – Helps our bodies to use food to make energy.
|Enriched breads and cereals||Fish|
Vitamin B5: Pantothenic Acid – Helps our bodies in releasing energy from carbohydrates and fats.
|Avocado||Broccoli, kale and other vegetables in the cabbage family|
|Eggs||Legumes and lentils|
|Mushrooms||White and sweet potatoes|
Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine – Helps your body to make and use protein and glycogen, which is the stored energy in your muscles and liver. Also helps form hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood.
|Tuna, cod and halibut||Potatoes|
|Chicken and turkey||Bananas|
|legumes such as soybeans, chickpeas and lentils||Pistachio nuts|
Iron – Required for energy production and transport of oxygen throughout the body.
|Legumes such as soy, lentils, chickpeas and kidney beans||Olives|
|Spinach and leafy greens||Sesame Seeds|
|Enriched grains||Blackstrap molasses|
The best way to keep you and your family energized throughout the winter is to ensure three well-balance, healthy meals that include many of the foods mentioned above. Proper snacks, that include complex carbohydrates and either healthy protein or fat sources are important for those who are active or if meals are more than four hours apart.
What are some family-friendly ideas for keeping everyone energized?
Snacks: Pair complex carbohydrates with healthy proteins and/or fats.
- 6 whole grain crackers with cheese
- Sliced apple with peanut butter
- Yogurt with granola
- Cheese string and an apple
Resources:Dieticians of Canada (2012). B Vitamins. Available from: http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/B-Vitamins.aspx?categoryID=3 [Accessed 11 October 2013] Dieticians of Canada (2012). Functions and Food Sources of Some Common Vitamins. Available from: http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Vitamins/Functions-and-Food-Sources-of-Common-Vitamins.aspx [Accessed on 11 Oct 2013]