By Sophie Buchan

Don’t be SAD

Feeling low or lethargic are signs you may be getting SAD (aka Seasonal Affective Disorder). Curing it may be as simple as going for a walk but if the weather is poor or you are struggling with fitness you can use a light therapy lamp. These simulate exposure to light and are recommended by the NHS and start around £35. These are made up of fluorescent bulbs installed in a box with a diffusing screen. According to SAD.org, sessions with the lamp can last from 15 minutes to three hours.

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Vitamin D

Vitamins are essential for our bodies to function but too many of us reach for the Quality Street rather than getting the nutrients we need. According to doctors, we don’t get enough Vitamin D between October and early March due to lack of sunlight. Food generally doesn’t contain high levels of Vitamin D but some can be found in eggs, butter and oily fish, especially salmon and mackerel. It also helps fight against cardiovascular disease and dementia. Traditional soups and stews, packed full of chunks of meat, fish and vegetables are a good source of nutrients.

Try a peasant stew

The Bollito is a typical peasant dish served in Italian homes in northern Italy. I love one-pot dishes, they are easy to prepare and nutritious. The resulting dish is aromatic and flavoursome. Tradition states it should be made with seven poor cuts of beef (flank, chuck, skirt, neck, shoulder, blade and shank) and seven supporting cuts (including oxtail, veal tongue, calf's head, trotter, and capon). The final dish is carved at the table and presented in separate dishes. It is served with spiced fruit chutney, salsa verde or mayonnaise.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

1kg boiling beef

3 litre water

0.5kg piece of marrowbone

15g coarse salt

Aromatics:

6 carrots

6 leeks, washed and trimmed

3 white onions, peeled and left whole

300g whole savoy cabbage

6 peppercorns

1 clove

Bouquet Garni: tie together a bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary

Salsa Verde:

Small bunch of chopped flat leaf parsley

2 salted anchovies, chopped

1 tbsp capers, chopped

1 hard boiled egg, chopped

1 slice of stale bread

60ml red wine vinegar

Method

1 Make the salsa verde. Soak the bread in vinegar for 5 minutes. Squeeze dry. Combine bread with all the other ingredients. Add olive oil and into pour into a bowl.

2 Wash all aromatics.

3 In a narrow pot just big enough to fit all the ingredients, boil the water with the aromatics.

4 When boiled, add salt along with the beef and marrowbone.

5 Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook slowly for approximately 3 hours.

6 Transfer meat and vegetables from the stock to a large plate.

7 Reduce stock for 10 minutes.

8 Add meat and veg to the reduction and bring back to a boil. Serve with the salsa verde.

Recipe from Giovanna Eusebi of Eusebi Deli in Glasgow, 152 Park Road, Glasgow, G4 9HB, visit eusebideli.com.

A Balanced Diet

As well as Vitamin D, we also need iron which can be found in eggs, beans, bread and dried fruit. Patricia Clark, an Edinburgh naturopathic nutritional therapist, recommends supplements such as Floradix liquid iron and Balanced Iron Complex (Viridian) if you suffer from an iron deficiency, which can lead to anaemia. Naturopathic therapy uses whole and organic foods as medicine.

She says: “What we eat has a big impact on our health, including our bones. If you are at risk of osteoporosis, there are vitamins and minerals to support healthy bones and minimise the risk of fracture.”

Dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, eggs, pulses and small fish all contain calcium which help maintain the structure of bones.

Magnesium is as important for bone health as calcium. Sources are almonds, barley, cashews, cod, eggs, figs, kelp, leafy green vegetables, legumes, parsnips, seeds, soybeans and wholegrain cereals.

Fruit and vegetables such as dates, raisins, avocado and chick peas can help arthritis and osteoporosis. Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day is easier said than done, so think about making yourself a smoothie the night before.

Banana and coconut crush – makes 4 glasses.

Ingredients

100ml coconut water

1 banana, coarsely chopped

30ml almond milk

30g honey, or to taste

1 tbsp cacao nibs

Juice of 1/4 lemon

½ tsp ground cinnamon, plus some for garnish

Method

Blend everything together. Serve in chilled glasses and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Recipe from Giovanna Eusebi of Eusebi Deli

Tea time

Medical herbalist Natalie Vert recommends these three teas which are great for bone density due to their minerals and iron.

Urtica Diocia (nettle leaf) - this has high silica content, lots of minerals including iron, calcium and magnesium.

Equisetum Arvense (horsetail) – contains high silica content and encourages absorption/use of calcium

Taraxacum Folia (dandelion leaf) - contains potassium, iron and magnesium.

Further information at napiers.net

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is practising meditation by focusing on your breathing. Slowly, you will feel more in control of your mind and body and begin to feel more positive. To make ourselves winter-proof, we need to feel good on the outside too. Research has shown those who practice mindfulness are less prone to stress and overreacting. There are apps, forums online and classes including Aberdeen (aberdeenpsychology.co.uk), Glasgow (mindfulnessglasgow.com) and Edinburgh (edinburghtherapy.co.uk).

Car Checklist

On cold mornings, it's not just the car's windows you need to keep clear – remove any snow and heavy ice from your registration plate, headlights and indicators or you could face a £60 fine and three penalty points. If your windows aren't cleared properly and you are in an accident your insurance company could be within their rights not to pay out. Similarly, if you leave snow on your roof and it slides off blocking your view you could be charged with using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition.

The AA recommends motorists carry an emergency pack, with a first aid kit, torch, blankets, spare clothing, small shovel, de-icer spray and scraper. Drivers, especially in rural areas, should also carry water and food, a phone and portable charger as the cold can drain your battery life faster.

Visit theaa.com

Keep moving

Cold temperatures can worsen arthritic joint pain. Wear loose clothing such as scarves, gloves and hats to retain body heat. We lose a lot of heat from our heads which lowers our immune system making us more susceptible to the cold and flu.

A lack of exercise can cause people to feel stiff and you can improve your health by walking 10 minutes each day to ease arthritic pain. Exercises such as weight-bearing and resistance can help strengthen bones. Avoid alcohol, carbonated drinks, caffeine, smoking and an intake of excess salt, especially if you are at risk of osteoporosis.

Skin deep

This winter is reportedly set to be the coldest in five years and if you haven’t yet noticed dry hands and cracked lips, you soon will. Our lips lose moisture fast and the skin becomes tight and is prone to splitting. Use a lip balm that contains beeswax or petroleum as it provides a barrier to lock in moisture. A good facial moisturiser will protect your skin, and older men should think about using one on their hands to avoid skin cracking.

Washing your hands before every meal is important as it helps combat bacteria which cause gastrointestinal infections, such as Salmonella, and viral respiratory infections, such as colds and flu which can cause serious complications, especially for the elderly.

Drinking at least eight glasses of water a day can help flush out toxins, you’ll also feel more refreshed. If you can get the recommended eight hours of sleep a night you will gradually see a difference in your energy levels.

Safety Checks

As the temperature drops below 8c the risk of heart attacks, hypothermia and strokes rises. If you suffer from heart disease, it’s recommended that you heat your home to at least 18c, draw the curtains and keep doors closed. If you’ve been with your energy provider for a while, there will probably be better deals if you switch. Try price comparison websites such as uswitch.com and gocompare.com. As the boiler powers both central heating and hot water, it should be checked annually by a qualified professional. You should also think about fitting a carbon monoxide alarm. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include difficulty breathing, stomach pains, dizziness, headaches and fatigue. It's hard to spot leaks as they are colourless and odourless.

See britishgas.co.uk for more tips.

Learn something new

It may be worth visiting elderly neighbours to ensure they are well and have enough food and medicine. They will appreciate that you’ve taken time to talk to them so boil the kettle, pour the tea and grab some biscuits.