6 Tips to Stay Well This Winter
As the temperature drops and the days become shorter it can be hard keep up with some of the healthier habits we have developed over the warmer months. Getting outside to exercise becomes a lot less desirable when all we really want to do is curl up on the sofa with a mug of tea. We might also find we are craving comfort foods that are rich, hearty and heavy in carbohydrates, to keep our body warm and fight the winter blues.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! Follow our top tips to keep your health on track this winter.
1. Focus on warm home cooked food
Anything you cook at home is likely to be healthier than a takeaway or eating out, and will generally contain less fat, salt and sugar. It’s natural during the cold weather to want to eat warm, filling meals and, with a little pre-planning, you can make some simple, healthy winters warmers at home. Look to simple meals in the slow cooker that you can prepare the night before, or in the morning, and enjoy coming home to that evening. Base slow cooked meals on lean proteins, tomato based sauces, legumes and vegetables for a hearty, yet nourishing, meal. Need some inspiration? Take a look at our selection of cookbooks selected specifically for people living with diabetes.
2. Stay Active Indoors
You don’t even need to leave home to keep fit during winter. While a full home gym set-up is ideal, not many of us have the space (or the finances) to make this a reality. One piece of cardio equipment such as an exercise bike, rower, a pedal exerciser, or simply a step-up box, or skipping rope is enough to get your heart pumping. Investing in a set of hand weights, or resistance bands, and a soft mat means you can complete a basic strength routine at home.
3. Look After Your Skin
Protecting your skin in summer is second nature, but during the winter months, when more of your skin is under wraps, you may think you don’t need to be so vigilant. However, as the temperature drops it’s just as important to look after your skin. Cold weather, wind and heating can dry out your skin and make it more prone to cracking. And cracked skin leaves you vulnerable to infection and discomfort.
- Avoid very hot baths and showers that can dry out your skin. It may be tempting to enjoy a long hot bath but try to limit the time you spend soaking as you will be losing vital oils out of your skin. You will also soften the skin of your feet and make them more prone to being
- Keep your toes toasty by investing in some seamless socks with relaxed top bands and cushioning.
- If you use a hot water bottle make sure it is not in direct contact with bare skin. It is common for people with diabetes to have impaired skin sensitivity and can therefore be more susceptible to superficial skin burns if skin comes into prolonged contact with a hot water bottle.
- Use sunscreen even in the winter months to protect your skin from wind, sun and cold temperatures.
- Protect your hands by wearing rubber gloves when washing up and moisturising regularly to repair and soften your skin.
- Beware of cranking up the heat. Sure it feels great to step out of the cold and into a toasty room but the higher the heat, the drier the air. If running a humidifier to help balance the moisture in the air isn’t an option then an extra layer or blanket is better for your skin.
4. Get your flu jab
Vaccination is a proven way to boost your immune system and protect against viruses and other infections. Getting your annual flu shot is still important, even if you’ve had your COVID-19 vaccination. You should also make sure your tetanus shot, whooping cough and shingles vaccination is up to date. If unsure speak with your doctor or practice nurse. If you are over 65 year you may also want to consider the pneumococcal vaccine to protect against a type of pneumonia.
5. Be Sick Day Ready
It’s important to be prepared before you get sick – have a personalised sick day action plan and sick day management kit ready to use at the earliest sign of illness. Being unwell can make your diabetes more difficult to look after and blood glucose levels will often rise when you are sick. Make sure you test often and ensure you have plenty of testing strips to hand.
6. Get Some Sunlight
Try and get out into the sunlight for 10-15 minutes each day. Sunlight provides vitamin D which can help boost your immune system. Choose the warmest time of the day to get outside and walk around the block, find a sheltered spot to read a book, or do a little bit of gardening.