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Winning the battle against winter’s chill

Are you tired of fighting the battle against winter’s chill? If you feel like the temperature may be dropping well below your comfort zone, rest assured that there are many little things you can do to fight back and win the warmth war. Start by taking a look at the following: the optimal temperature of your home, your clothing, what you eat (cooking habits included), and what you drink.

Indoor temperature.
The simple solution is turning up the heat in your home. However, this can be costly for both your wallet and the environment. The recommended temperature for your home is between 18–21 degrees within the main living areas and no cooler than 15 in less frequented areas like storage or areas where you will be covering yourself with additional insulation (like bedclothes).

Your clothing.
Dressing to stay warm doesn’t mean simply putting on more clothing, but putting on the right clothing for cooler temperatures. We’re not recommending you live in long underwear (although it does have its place). Have you ever heard the expression “cotton kills”? It’s a little dramatic, and remember that cotton has its merits, but it is also one of the worst materials to have against your skin when you are cold. Essentially, cotton traps your perspiration against your skin, which will give you a chill. It’s one of few materials that will do this. Cotton socks and undergarments are not suitable for winter. If you want to stay warm, try wearing synthetic materials as your first layer that will wick moisture away from your skin. Wool and bamboo work reasonably well too. Nylons are particularly effective at keeping you warm and will wick away moisture like thermal undergarments. Alternately, pick up some synthetic undershirts to replace your cotton ones in the winter. When you’re outside and cold, simply put on a toque and shoes that will keep your feet covered and dry.

What you eat.
How you eat makes a big difference in the winter. After all, food is the fuel your body uses to produce heat and keep you warm. Although there are specific foods that will help your body keep warm, the easiest rule to follow is that raw food (yes, that means unprocessed/uncooked) contains many more nutrients than processed or cooked food. For example, a raw carrot or broccoli bunch has a much higher nutritional value than when cooked. The only exception to the rule is meat, so be sure to cook your meat as your digestive system can’t handle raw meat.

If you’re really ready to make a change, try looking at two simple things: meal frequency and what you snack on.

Meals and frequency: Try not to overload your digestive system by avoiding eating only three times per day. Start the day with a solid breakfast of whole grains like a good cereal and yogurt or natural oatmeal with some frozen berries mixed in (you can make and freeze this delicious meal in advance). Also, avoid a heavy late-night dinner. When you are cooking, try adding sesame seeds, garlic, ginger, pepper, cloves and saffron to your foods, as they are all said to have a positive warming effect.

Snacking habits: There are lots of great snacks, but try to keep the processed food rule in mind. Raw almonds are much better than processed, and the same is true of vegetables. Small snacks that are high in protein will help give your body the fuel it needs to keep warm. Specifically, almonds, peanuts, oranges, plums, carrots and peaches will be beneficial as long as they aren’t right-out-of-the-fridge cold when you eat them.

What you drink.
We all need to hydrate, but choosing what to hydrate with can make a big difference. Some things will not only make you warmer than others, but they will make that warmth last. A few different beverages will actually make you cool, and not in the way you want.

A big and not surprising factor is temperature. When you drink cold water, the first thing your body does is use a lot of energy to warm that water up so it can be used by your digestive system. Save your own energy and warm up that glass first. Caffeine and sugar will speed up your heart rate and warm you up but only for a short time. If you want a warm beverage, try green tea with a little honey, or even a good black tea with some milk and honey (rather than sugar).



{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Francoise Roy-Lalonde January 19, 2012, 7:05 pm

    thanx for the info….didn’t know about cotton…

  • E.A. Graham January 19, 2012, 5:14 pm

    Very good info – thanks

  • Deanna Pelino January 18, 2012, 2:45 pm

    Great, healthy suggestions! Thanks!!

  • Steve Oliver January 17, 2012, 8:40 pm

    I so disagree with the recommendation to keep homes between 18 and 21. My wife and I, and our adult children feel very cold even at times when the thermostat is set at 22. The second floor is always 2 degrees cooler as well and its too cold when getting into bed! We now set the thermostat at 22 but sometimes even at 23.

    Please stop telling people to set their homes any lower. It is just not realistic or comfortable for lounging around in.

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