As winter approaches ever so quickly, NOW is your time to make important nutritional changes that will give your training a boost through the winter.  There is no reason to wait until the New Year.  To get started, take an inventory of your goals for the winter, assess where you are (be realistic), and start building a plan to achieve those goals.  Give consideration to these questions:

  • Have my workouts changed?  
  • Do I work longer days?
  • Do I sleep more?
  • Do I enjoy eating more warm food?  

In addition to the above questions, there is typically a shift in the type of training that you do during the off-season.  Maybe you’re an avid skier, or maybe you take the winter to regroup for the spring (or you are leaning into the D3 Training-to-Train program).  Regardless of how you intend to spend your off-season, it’s a changing time and with that comes opportunity.  Change brings growth and that is what we are all looking for, right?  Okay, maybe not around our midsection!   

After you’ve done this self-assessment, it’s now time to work on the aspects of nutrition that will support you in achieving your goals.  One of my most powerful tips is encouraging you to plan ahead.  In the realm of nutrition, planning ahead is key, and important to your ability to make good nutritional choices.  The following are six examples of how you can support yourself nutritionally and give you the inspiration to plan ahead.

  1. Put aside daily downtime (even if it’s only 20 minutes).  A daily pause will give you a chance to reset and focus on good nutritional choices.  During your downtime, think about feeling your best and visualize it, make it a reality in your mind.  If you see it in your mind, you can achieve it.
  1. Plan some of your favorite comfort meals and make them a healthy version.  There are plenty of healthy comfort food options.  Crockpot meals are great for the winter as they take very little time to prepare and retain all their nutrients as you cook.  By using chicken or lean buffalo, kale, broth, carrots, and onions you can make a savory meal and not have to be home to cook it.  Add some fruit for dessert and you are all set.   
  1. Get a monthly subscription to a healthy magazine.  It will inspire you to gather ideas for desirable recipes. 
  1. If your training has shifted to less cardio and more weight training, adding more protein and decreasing some of your carbohydrates may be helpful.  This will help support lean muscle mass as well as provide satiety and energy throughout the day.  
  1. Consider adding more nutrients that will have immune-boosting benefits.  These include green leafy veggies, berries, turmeric (curcumin), vitamin C, zinc, B vitamins, lipoic acid, CoQ10, cinnamon, cloves, walnuts, ginger, pumpkin seed, nutmeg, olive oil, peppermint, tea, omega-3 fats, flax, krill oil, chia seed, quercitin, or hemp seed.
  1. Stress can be a large factor as the work nights get longer and/or “life” has its hurdles.  Some nutrients that provide a soothing effect are folate, B12, selenium, and antioxidants like the ones mentioned above.  A lot of B vitamins are found in meats, legumes, green vegetables, and whole grains.  Makes sense that when we are stressed and then eat a less than optimal meal, we actually feel worse.  Selenium, which raises serotonin levels, is found in high amounts in turkey.  Oysters carry a lot of zinc which helps fend off colds.  Garbanzo beans are high in folate and are a great addition to salads or pureed for a dip.  

The following are some of my favorite recipes for the fall.   You can exchange or remove pretty much any food item to make it your own.  Enjoy!

Chicken Soup

3 quarts filtered water
1 tbsp lemon juice
4-6 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium free-range organic whole chicken or turkey (change up the meats, grass-fed ideally for beef) (bone-in)
8 organic carrots, sliced
6 stalks of organic celery, sliced
4 organic zucchini, sliced
3 medium organic onions, peeled and diced
4 inches of ginger grated
2-4 tbsp Celtic sea salt or “real salt” (brand at health food store)
1-2 rutabaga or turnips
1 large bunch of parsley

Place water and all ingredients into the crockpot and turn on low to medium for 8-10 hours.  30 minutes before the soup is done add the parsley.  If using a whole chicken remove the chicken and take off the meat from the bone, put the meat back into the soup, and discard the bones. Put over rice or quinoa.

Seafood Chowder

1/4 pound prosciutto (optional)
1.5 lb of salmon fillets (skin and bones removed or use other white fish)
1 head of cauliflower chopped
1/2 pound scallops, shrimp, or clams
1 cup leeks, sliced
2 zucchinis chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
2 cups carrots, diced into small pieces
2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh or dried dill (or use Cherry Creek Seafood Seasoning from Savory Spice Shop)
lime juice to taste 3-4 tbsp
black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp nutmeg (if using extra dill skip this)
sea salt to taste

Steam cauliflower and put it in the blender with some of the coconut milk until smooth.

In a large, separate, soup pot, cook the chopped prosciutto until browned and crispy.  Add the leeks and garlic and continue to saute until the leeks are tender.  Add the carrots and cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, cauliflower mixture, dill, and black pepper and bring to a simmer for about 45 minutes or until carrots are tender.  Add the salmon filets and other seafood to the soup, make sure they are covered.  Let simmer until the seafood is no longer transparent and the salmon can break apart easily.  Stir well, breaking apart the salmon, and cook until all the pieces of salmon are tender.  Serves ~8.

Blueberry Crisp-Almond

1.5 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4th cup coconut oil
4-5 cups blueberries 
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp coconut flour 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl combine almond flour and salt.  Stir in ¼ cup applesauce and set aside.  Put fruit in a bowl with cinnamon, coconut flour, melted coconut oil; toss together until everything is coated.  Place this mixture into a casserole pan that is 8×8 inches.  Sprinkle the almond meal topping over the fruit.  Cover and bake for 20 minutes (uncover for the remaining 5 minutes).  It is done when blueberries are bubbling and the top is slightly browned.  

I can share endless information about the benefits of eating healthy and the effect it has on our mood, recovery, sleep, detoxification, energy, and performance, but without making the choice to change, it doesn’t really matter.  So, NOW is the time.  

ACTION SUMMARY:  

  • Write down 3 changes to your diet that you think would help you achieve your goals.  
  • Pick a time to go grocery shopping.
  • Make snack baggies for when you get busy. 
  • Cook some meals on the weekend.  

Choose your changes and start now.  Get excited for the new season and the new you!

Nutritionist Megan Dopp is a registered Dietician from Colorado State University.  Megan has over 14 years of experience in the nutrition field and has adapted to all of its changes with research and education. She is passionate about learning what is best for each person and focuses on finding the root cause of problems.  She specializes in Athletes, Wellness, Gastrointestinal distress, Autoimmune diseases, Heart disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Food Allergies, and Weight Imbalance.

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