Diet and Lifestyle Changes to Glow All Winter

By Rippan Sandhu

Sure, winter is sweater weather, hot drinks, filling stews, an excuse to build a fire and curl up cosy — but does anyone’s skin actually improve in the cold season? For many of us — even those of us who claim to hate summer — the heat can actually do wonders for our skin, as the increase of vitamin D and humidity encourages us to both drink more water and to sweat out toxins. Winter, however, has the opposite effect: the air is dry and cold, prompting us to crank up the heater and seek out hot drinks like tea and coffee, which can actually dehydrate us from within. Thus, your skin will likely freak out and develop issues you’ve never had to think twice about during the rest of the year. 

All this means is that you need to run diagnostics for your routine. In Ayurveda, everything works in cycles. There are cycles to the day, cycles to the year, and even cycles to your life. Each cycle, be it Pitta, Kapha or Vata, requires new routines and new commitments. That’s why — just like switching out your light duvet for down and your short sleeves for jumpers — your skin also needs new nourishment. This month, we’re highlighting the internal changes you need to make to your skin in order to keep it looking its best — if you find your lips peeling at a drastic rate, or the skin between your fingers literally cracking apart then chances are all the sugar scrubs and vitamin E cream in the world won’t fix the issue. External issues rarely have external roots — so read on to see what diet and lifestyle changes you can make to glow all winter! 


There’s an essential macronutrient that experts say is deficient from the diets of the majority of women: fat. And no small wonder — for decades, we’ve been peddled the low-fat diet. In actual fact, not only does good fat cut cholesterol and actually help with weight loss through increased satiation, it also does wonders for our hair, skin and nails, as healthy skin relies on good fatty acids to maintain moisture, especially in the winter. Track your food intake for a few days and take note of how much fat-dense food you’re eating; if your skin is unusually dry, you’re more likely than not consuming much less than the recommended amount — which is 15% of your daily diet for women. To boost your intake of healthy fats without loading up on density, simply stir a table spoon of sesame oil or ghee into your tea or coffee, or enjoy it in your morning oatmeal.


You may feel less thirsty in the winter, but that’s just a trick of your body in response to the cold. What’s actually happening is that your ‘thirst cues’ — those signals in the brain that alert you to your thirst — is doing the equivalent of throwing a message in a bottle into the Atlantic. You’re missing these vital cues that tell you to chug chug chug water, which you’d usually be sensitive to in the heat. This is a double-pronged issue, as your skin uses up more of your body’s moisture in the cold to maintain its suppleness, while you fail to keep replenishing the supply. At this time, it’s important to have an artificial ‘cue’ to remind you to chug — simply install an app on your phone to remind you to hydrate. If you’re old school, then create a new habit: every time you sit down to work, you must have a full bottle of water. Every time you get up for a break, a meal, or a trip to the bathroom, that bottle has to be empty.


ant to kill two birds with one stone? Lower your bills and look supple and moisturised all through the cold season? Simple: shower with lukewarm water. We know that sounds terrible — who wants to come in from the cold outside and hop into a shower that’s less than steaming? Sometimes all you want during a long, cold drive home from work is to hop into a scalding shower, but not only is this creature comfort doing damage to your skin by sapping it of its residual moisture, it also wreaks havoc on your hair. If you notice yourself shedding hair that looks like something the cat might hack up, then changes are it’s your steaming showers that’s doing the damage. Extreme changes in temperature — from icy cold to scalding — breaks down the collagen and keratin in our skin and hair, leaving it brittle and prone to breakage. It can also lead to broken capillaries in the surface of your skin — the cause of the redness in your cheeks which never seems to go away. Rather than hop into the shower to warm up, try to heat up your body internally — either with a glass of hot spiced milk, or some bodyweight exercises to get your blood pumping. This way, not only will the lukewarm shower be bearable, it’ll also rush you right off to sleep!


Here in New Zealand, we’re blessed to live in what is essentially a nation wide green space — not only do you likely have trees in your backyard, but you never have to drive more than an hour to be lost in an emerald oasis. In winter, however, we close our windows to the natural benefits that plants bestow on us, crank up our heater, and wallow in this stuffy warmth. That’s where houseplants come in — more than just an aesthetic upgrade to your living space, they’re also a natural and long term way to boost oxygen levels in your house, clear toxins from the air, and provide moisture for dry skin. Think of them as nature’s humidifiers — plants which have a high transpiration rate (the speed at which they lose moisture through their leaves) can help combat winter dryness. Adding a few of these plant babies to your bedroom is a low maintenance, high reward way to get your room and your skin looking great!

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