Winter Nutrition and Wellness

By Dietetic Intern: Haley Flambaum

Winter, Summer, Spring, Fall. Each season has unique nutrition recommendations, tips, and seasonal produce that can offer health benefits. At my rotation with the University of Maryland Campus Dining, my colleague, Rachel, and I were tasked to create a nutrition bulletin board to be displayed around the South Campus Dining facility. The board had to highlight nutrition tips, cooking/kitchen tips, a recipe, and a featured food.  After much collaborating and thinking we decided to create our board with a winter season theme. 

For our nutrition tips, we wanted to focus on elements of nutrition that can be lacking in the winter. So we addressed how it is more common to become deficient in vitamin D in the winter because sunlight is a major natural source of this vitamin. We emphasized the importance of incorporating good food sources of this vitamin such as salmon, tuna fish, eggs, and fortified milk in the diet. Vitamin D is needed to help build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. And it also plays a role in our nervous, musculoskeletal, and immune systems. 

For cooking/kitchen tips, we focused on stocking the pantry, utilizing soup as an easy meal, and adding more light to beat the winter blues. In the winter months, the market may not have as many fresh fruits and vegetables available. You can remedy this by stocking up on things like canned goods, frozen options, and dried lentils/legumes. These options can be used in soups, stews, or curries which offer a hearty meal on a cold winter night. When schedules get busy or you are feeling under the weather, soup can be a great option for an easy meal. Try prepping your soup in advance and packing it in the freezer for a quick meal on busy nights. 

For wellness and self-care tips, we discussed the importance of making a daily schedule for self-care activities such as regular physical activity and sleep. People tend to hibernate in the winter so this is a good time to catch up on sleep. While catching up on sleep, it is still important to have scheduled meal times and some regular physical activity. One tip we gave for increasing physical activity, despite the cold weather, was meeting up with family or friends and walking around your local mall. We also explained that YouTube can be a great resource for at-home workouts with little to no equipment required. Some people are negatively affected by the longer nights and reduced light of fall and winter. So another tip we focused on was how to get more light by adding string lights in your house to help beat the winter blues. 

Our featured food was winter squash. We talked about why it is called winter squash, provided nutrition facts, and reviewed the different types. The recipe we provided was for a Winter Squash Soup and you can see the recipe in the picture below. 

After finishing the board, we translated it into Spanish to reach a greater audience. We enjoyed making the bulletin board as it gave us creative freedom as well as an opportunity to share nutrition and wellness tips we have learned throughout our education. This experience helped me not only trust my creative ability but also helped me hone my skills to create content in a visually appealing way to educate my audience. Additionally, I learned the importance of staying on top of the latest evidence to provide helpful and accurate information. I look forward to using these skills as a future registered dietitian.        

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